Union Rights

Joining a union
Employees have an absolute right:

  • to choose to join a union or to choose to not join a union
  • to join a particular union in preference to joining some other union
  • to resign from a union.

It is illegal for anyone to use "undue influence" to try to make another person join or not join a union or to resign from a union.

Undue influence may include:

  • an employer threatening to make life difficult for, or dismiss, someone unless he or she resigns from a union
  • union members engaging in actions to intimidate non-members, or vice versa.

Deciding to join a union
If there is a collective agreement covering your work you should be employed on these conditions for 30 days while you decide if you want to join the union and continue to be covered by it.

Your Employment Agreement must be in writing and you should always get a copy of the agreement.

By law your employer should tell you:

  • It is your right to get advice about the agreement before you agree to it.
  • You have the right to negotiate with your employer what's in your agreement.
  • If the other workers have a Collective Agreement.
  • If there is a union at your new work and how to contact a union representative.

How to Join
The relevant union can advise you what you need to do to join. If a union or unions are present in the workplace, you will be able to find out contact details from existing union members.

If not, the NZ Council of Trade Unions (CTU) has a Union Directory on their website listing the contact details of CTU-affiliated and non-affiliated unions, and a facility called Find Your Union which lists CTU-affiliated unions for specific industries or occupations.