What is a trade union?

A trade union is organisation that brings together working people to form a collective that protects and advances their rights, terms, pay and conditions.

Trade unions work to create a better world of work for their members, whether that be through negotiations with their employer, or through political campaigning.   

In places where a union is recognised, the union can negotiate on behalf of the workforce for better pay as well as terms and conditions like holidays or other workplace policies.  

Because of the collective strength that unions have as large membership organisations, they have a powerful voice to lobby and campaign on the things that matter to their members at work, in their communities and beyond. 

Find out more about our campaigns

On an individual level, trade unions can provide support to members who are facing difficulties at work such as bullying, redundancy, unfair dismissal, or poor treatment. You can find out more about the type of support we offer here.

For some, union membership is like an insurance policy – something they hope to never need but essential when things go wrong. We recommend that everybody joins a trade union, to be ready for those occasions when you need one.  

Common issues that unions deal with include: 

  • Allegations in the workplace. 
  • Workload issues. 
  • Target setting and appraisals. 
  • Bullying and harassment. 
  • Sickness and absence. 
  • Pay and contractual issues. 
  • Parental leave. 
  • Redundancy. 
  • Assault. 

Every single member’s case is unique, and we strive to ensure that our members receive bespoke support that is right for them.

Whatever the issue you may experience, it can be reassuring to know that help is only a phone call away. Our teams are on hand to leave you with the confidence and job security you deserve.

A union can also be a place of learning and development, as training well asand a space to network and build connections with others. Members volunteer and train to support their colleagues, they contribute through discussion groups to shape the views and policies of their union, and they influence the representations made on their behalf.  

Why should I join a trade union? 

Trades unions have a long history of working to improve health and safety, working conditions and pay. This includes:

  • The national minimum wage 
  • The two-day weekend 
  • Improved parental leave rights 
  • Protection for migrant workers 
  • Workplace equality legislation 
  • Abolition of child labour 
  • Improved safety procedures for workers 
  • Pension provisions 
  • Holiday and sickness entitlements 

Find out more about the history of Community

These union successes have benefited every worker in the UK. As the world of work changes, with the increased use of technology, health and safety concerns, and the transition to netzero, it is more important than ever to be in a union to ensure that you have someone in your corner.

In workplaces where the workforce are members of a union, they can benefit from the strength and security that comes from working together to tackle issues that arise at work. 

What are the benefits of being a member of a trade union? 

The benefits of being a member of a trade union are evident for all to see. If you are in a union, you are statistically proven to

How do trade unions work? 

Members pay subscription fee toward their union, similar to what you might pay to join a gym or use a streaming service. Then, if an issue arises in the workplace or you require advice, you can contact the union for support.  

Unfortunately, unions are unable to help (in most cases) with issues that arise prior to membership. That’s why its vital that you sign up to be a union member straight away rather than leaving it until  an issue arises and it is too late. 

What are my rights with joining a union? 

Individually, you have a right to: 

  • Choose to join or not join a specific union. 
  • Be a member of a union. 
  • Leave a union. 
  • Belong to the union you want to be a member of (even if it is not the one your employer negotiates with). 
  • Belong to multiple unions. 

Your employer (or a potential employer) is legally forbidden from: 

  • Insist you join or leave a specific union. 
  • Threaten or treat you unfairly for being part of a trade union. 
  • Refuse to employ you for being a member of a trade union. 
  • Dismiss or put you up for redundancy because of your union membership or for taking part in union activities. 
  • Refuse you opportunities because you are a member of a trade union. 

If you have any specific queries about being a member of Community or would like to discuss our membership benefits in more details, contact our team by filling out this form.