At the recent ROLWA meeting, we discussed the topic of worker union’s and how being involved in a union can improve both the social and cultural aspect of having a positive work culture.
The role of a union is to protect and advocate your rights at work, and as the worker; to feel more secure at work. However, a recent survey into unionisation in Australia has found that union membership across the nation’s workforce is now down to seventeen percent. It also revealed that union members don’t necessarily feel more secure in their job than non-union members, begging the question whether this is the reason as to why less people – and especially young workers – are joining unions.
Australian unions were once among the strongest in the world, but now only 20% of the workforce is aligned with one. The claims of corruption and cronyism at the top levels of the Health Services Union can only harm public perception of the broader union movement, yet having said this is there any room left for unions in Australia, particularly for us young workers?
Unions are a significant aspect to positive work culture, however we believe that they need to respond to the needs and challenges of the contemporary worker and workplace.
Why Join a Union?
ABC ‘Life Matters’ radio segment held a discussion titled ‘Why Join a Union’ last Wednesday (22/7) which is worth a listen:
Young Workers and Unions
The recent story on the young worker who was unfairly dismissed from her job at Grill’d also gave us a reason why joining and having the support of a union can be beneficial in protecting your rights at work.
Along with other Christian groups, Catholic support for unions proved important in the fight for a more fair and just Australia.
In ‘Social Justice – Fuller Life in a Fairer World‘, author Bruce Duncan says that unions provide important mechanisms for the social participation of working people: “not only wage bargaining but providing a range of services, education and skill formation, especially in public speaking and leadership training, which greatly contributes to political and social life.”
“Everyone must consider his every neighbour without exception as another self, taking into account first of all his life and the means necessary to living with dignity, so as not to imitate the rich man who had no concerns for the poor man” – The Second Vatican Council, The Church in the Modern World
Unionism and the Young Christian Workers
Born in 1882, the founder of the YCW, Joseph Cardijn, began to organise young workers in the industrial suburbs of Brussels from 1912. Originally known as the Trades Union Youth, Cardijn’s movement adopted the name Young Christian Workers in 1924.
Pope Francis: “Let Workers Unionize”
Pope Francis has deplored “unfair economic structures that create huge inequalities,” and President Obama has called inequality “the defining issue of our time.”
Our Catholic faith teaches that addressing inequality must include just wages and working conditions for those in the labor force. As long ago as 1891, Pope Leo XIII affirmed the right of workers to form associations or unions to seek justice and fair wages. In 1981, St. John Paul II asserted the fundamental “priority of labor over capital” and called for “new movements of solidarity of the workers and with the workers.” And more recently, Pope Francis called on the faithful “to fight for social benefits, a dignified retirement, holidays, rest, and freedom for trade unions. All of these issues create social justice.”
In keeping with the principles of Catholic teachings and the spiritual teachings of our founder Joseph Cardijn, fighting for social benefits, including retirement, holidays, more time off, and the freedom to participate in trade unions will benefit all workers, especially in a time of declining employment and instability in the workforce.
How to Join a Union
Australian Unions provides a great database to help you decide which union would be right for you, should you wish to join.
No matter what your job is or what business you work for, there’s a union for you.
Check out Which Union is Best for You