How to become a Trade Union Official

Trade Union Official

Trade union officials work to maintain and improve the wages, conditions and employment opportunities of workers in particular occupations or industries. In some unions, trade union officials are elected from the union's membership, but in others they are appointed to paid positions. Officials with training in fields such as law, journalism, economics, accountancy and welfare may be appointed to specialist positions (such as legal officer or media officer). Research officers generally have tertiary qualifications that may be in a broad range of disciplines from arts to science.

Personal requirements for a Trade Union Official

  • Interested in trade union activities
  • Good negotiation and communication skills
  • Able to deal with employers and workers at all levels
  • Able to stay calm in difficult situations and handle controversial and emotional issues objectively and analytically

Education & Training for a Trade Union Official

There are no specific educational requirements to become a trade union official. Unions provide on-the-job and formal training. People often enter this occupation after experience in industry. Entry to this occupation may be improved if you have qualifications. You may like to consider a VET qualification. As subjects and prerequisites can vary between institutions, you should contact your chosen institution for further information. You can also become a trade union official by studying industrial relations, human resource management or occupational health and safety at university. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English and mathematics are normally required. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.


Duties & Tasks of a Trade Union Official

Trade union officials:

  • Represent members in negotiations with management over workplace issues
  • Visit places of work where members of the union are employed to check on working conditions and to identify other industrial relations issues
  • Handle complaints and disputes on the job
  • Check employees' time and wage records (kept by employers) to ensure employees are being paid the correct wages
  • Ensure safety rules and regulations are observed in the workplace and advise employers of possible breaches
  • Recruit new members and make sure that current members are up to date with payment of their union fees and kept informed of union activities
  • Draft applications for award variations and, through research and inspections, collect evidence and prepare submissions in support of claims
  • Represent the union at conferences and in negotiations (may include acting as the union's representative or advocate before industrial courts or tribunals)
  • Assist with managing the finances of the union.

Tasks

  • Providing information on current job vacancies in the organisation to employers and job seekers.
  • Overseeing the formation and conduct of workplace consultative committees and employee participation initiatives.
  • Providing advice and information to management on workplace relations policies and procedures, staff performance and disciplinary matters.
  • Receiving and recording job vacancy information from employers such as details about job description, wages and conditions of employment.
  • Studying and interpreting legislation, awards, collective agreements and employment contracts, wage payment systems and dispute settlement procedures.
  • Developing, planning and formulating enterprise agreements or collective contracts such as productivity-based wage adjustment procedures, workplace relations policies and programs, and procedures for their implementation.
  • Arranging the induction of staff and providing information on conditions of service, salaries and promotional opportunities.
  • Maintaining personnel records and associated human resource information systems.
  • Undertaking negotiations on terms and conditions of employment, and examining and resolving disputes and grievances.
  • Arranging for advertising of job vacancies, interviewing and testing of applicants, and selection of staff.

Employment Opportunities for a Trade Union Official

Although there is no formal career structure within trade unions, opportunities exist to move from base-level trade union official positions up to president. Skills and experience gained are transferable to other areas of work, such as industrial relations or politics. The demand for trade union officials is affected by membership numbers, union involvement in enterprise bargaining agreements and amalgamations. The rules of each union determine the number of paid positions available.


Specializations

Trade Union Official

Trade union officials work to maintain and improve the wages, conditions and employment opportunities of workers in particular occupations or industries. In some unions, trade union officials are elected from the union's membership, but in others they are appointed to paid positions. Officials with training in fields such as law, journalism, economics, accountancy and welfare may be appointed to specialist positions (such as legal officer or media officer). Research officers generally have tertiary qualifications that may be in a broad range of disciplines from arts to science.

  • Average age
    Average age
    37 years
  • Future Growth
    Future Growth
    Strong
  • Gender Share
    Gender Share
    72% female
  • Average full-time
    Average full-time
    42 hours
  • Weekly Pay
    Weekly Pay
    $1,662
  • Skill level rating
    Skill level rating
    Very high skill
  • Unemployment
    Unemployment
    Average unemployment
  • Full-Time Share
    Full-Time Share
    81% Full-Time
  • Employment Size
    Employment Size
    63,900 workers
  • Employment Size
    Employment by state
    ACT: 3.3%
    NSW: 33.0%
    NT: 1.2%
    QLD: 18.5%
    SA: 6.0%
    TAS: 1.6%
    VIC: 25.4%
    WA: 11.0%
  • Employment Size
    Age brackets
    15-19: 0.3%
    20-24: 6.7%
    25-34: 36%
    35-44: 27.5%
    45-54: 18.1%
    55-59: 5.9%
    60-64: 3.6%
    65 and Over: 1.8%
  • Employment Size
    Education level
    Advanced Diploma/Diploma: 16.1%
    Bachelor degree: 35.9%
    Below Year 10: 0%
    Certificate III/IV: 12.3%
    Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 14.3%
    Year 10 and below: 3.9%
    Year 11: 2.4%
    Year 12: 15.1%
    Years 11 & 10: 6.2%
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