Winning for workers


Your right to belong to a union 

All workers have a legal entitlement to belong to a trade union. this is set out under Section 71 of the Industrial Relations Act 1972. These rights can be summarised as:
  • the right to be a member of any trade union or any number of trade unions
  • the right not to be a member of any trade union or other organisation of workers or to refuse to be a member of any particular trade union or other organisation of workers;
  • where he is a member of a trade union, the right (subject to certain limitations in the Act), to take part in the activities of the trade union (including any activities as, or with a view to becoming an official of the trade union) and (if appointed or elected) to hold office as such an official.

The law also protects workers were an employer tries to discriminate or victimise a worker for exercising their rights. Section 42 of the Industrial Relations can be summarised as:

  • an employer shall not dismiss a worker, or adversely affect his employment, or alter his position to his prejudice, only because the worker—
    • is an officer, delegate or member of a trade union;
    • has been absent from work without leave after he has made an application for leave for the purpose of carrying out his duties as an officer or delegate of a trade union and the leave has been unreasonably refused or withheld.
  • an employer shall not—
    • make employment subject to the condition that the workers shall not join a union or shall relinquish trade union membership;
    • dismiss or prejudice a worker because of union membership or because of participation in union activities outside working hours;
    • in an attempt to dissuade or prevent the worker from becoming such officer, delegate or member, threaten to dismiss a worker, or adversely affect the workers employment, or alter the workers position detrimentally
An extract of Sections 42 and 71 of the Act can be found here.

What if I have a problem at work?

  • Whether you are a member of a trade union or not when you have your problem, you can still join a trade union and that union can take up your problem.
  • If there is a recognised union where you are working, you must go to that union. 
  • Before a union can report a metter tothe Minister of Labour, you have to be a member of the Union for at least eight weeks.
  • A trade dispute should be reported to the Minister of Labour within six months of the date when it happned. - although it is possible to ask for an extension of time in which to report a matter.

What then?

  • once the union is dealing with your matter, we will contact the employer, either by phone or letter or both, to try and arrange a meeting to settle the matter
  • if that does not work, we report the matter to the Minister Labour (only a trade union can report trade disputes to the Minister of Labour)
  • if the problem cannot be settled at the Ministry of Labour, it can be reported to the Industrial Court


This is a list of the employers we are currently dealing with.

Ministry of Labour

For information on the procedures for reporting a matter to the Minister of Labour and a list of current matters at the Ministry check here. The Ministry has the role of undertaking conciliation

Industrial Court

Once a matter cannot be settled at the Ministry of Labour, it can be referred to the Industrial Court. Although the Industrial Court can also undertake conciliation, once a matter is dealt with in a full hearing then it is determined by arbitration..

We give a list of current matters the Union has before the Court.


For a list of the settlements achieved over the past few years see here.