About Unions

Many workers don’t know a lot about unions these days. Some common questions are:

What do unions do?

Unions look after and promote the rights of workers and their interests at work – their pay and conditions of employment. Through unions, workers bargain collectively with their employer.

Unions are one of the few ways that workers can have a voice at their job and influence what happens in their community. When people come together with a common goal, they’re far more powerful than when they act as individuals.

Check out our video, With One Voice, to hear what union members have to say about whattheir union does.

What have unions achieved?

Through collective bargaining and lobbying the government, unions have won important work rights like:

What can the union do for me?

Unions are for people who want to work together to sort things out at their workplace. There’s plenty of international research which shows a unionised workforce can achieve a lot more – better wages, better conditions, and less inequality.

E tū can also offer legal advice and support in disciplinary meetings or redundancy situations.

Being able to join a union is a fundamental human right, protected in New Zealand and international law.

Aren’t unions just troublemakers?

Unions are organisations of workers who want a fair deal. Most workers want to have a good relationship with their boss and feel valued.

Unfortunately some employers don’t feel the same way, and in some circumstances, workers may choose as a group to take industrial action – like a ban on overtime. The end goal is always to get back on the job.

It wouldn’t make much sense for workers to put themselves out of business!

Why are you part of the Labour Party? 

E tū is affiliated to the New Zealand Labour Party. This reflects the historically strong relationship between Labour – the party of workers – and the union movement.

The decision to affiliate to the Labour Party was made by a vote of all E tū members.

E tū members can opt out of any part of their fees going towards political campaigns.

E tū conference delegates (who are normal workers elected by their peers) get to vote in Labour leadership elections.