Joining a union

What is a trade union? 

A trade union is a group of employees who join together to improve and/or maintain their conditions of employment. 

Nearly seven million people in the UK belong to a trade union. 

Union members get together to talk about what’s going on – and any problems they are having. Common issues unions discuss are things like pay, unfair treatment, pensions, safety and more.   

How can a union help me?  

Unions can help with legal advice on employment matters.  

They can support and represent you if you are a victim of discrimination.  

They can attend meetings with management with you and represent you at an employment tribunal.  

Union members elect someone called a rep (or steward) who is usually a volunteer, to speak on their behalf. They help individuals, and take comments and concerns to management. 

How do I find a union? 

Ask colleagues if there is an existing union at your workplace and find out who the rep is.  

You can also use the TUC (Trades Union Congress) Union Finder Tool 

Do I have to pay?  

Your union will charge a union membership fee (‘membership sub’) to pay for the work of the union. This might be the same amount for all employees or based on how much you’re paid.