Why people join the ETU

Better pay

We joined the union, because we wanted more money. We got the latest EBA and a great wage increase. They're the best wages in the whole industry and ETU members are leading the crowd. There's no way we could have gotten the pay rise on our own. Being in the union gave us the power to get it. It's as simple as that.

Mark, ETU member

If you're in the union you're better paid. That's a fact. Non-unionised workers are paid less than you because without the support, strength and skills of the ETU, they cannot negotiate the pay and conditions that union members win.

Workers who aren't unionised find out they're being ripped off, but often don't know how to go about fixing the problem. That's because, as most of us know through experience, workers don't have much power on their own.

We understand that through organising together and supporting each other we can receive good wages and conditions. Through Enterprise Agreements the ETU are succeeding in getting pay rises that are second to none.

Whatever you can get on your own, we can do better together.

Don't risk your health

You have the right to work in a safe and healthy environment. That means Occupational Health and Safety is one of the ETU's most important issues.

Every year in Australia more people die through work related injuries than road accidents. Non-union jobs are a nightmare as they ignore safety requirements in an attempt to save a dollar, by putting you at risk.

The ETU has been at the forefront of raising Occupational Health and Safety issues to ensure that you work in a safe environment. Years of struggle and protest by union members means that there are established rules and practices in areas like:

  • Electro-magnetic radiation
  • Wiring regulations
  • Asbestos
  • Chemicals
  • Ergonomic equipment

The Occupational Health and Safety Act specifies that it is the responsibility of the employer to provide a safe working environment and safety equipment. If you are unsure about the safety of anything you are required to do, DON'T DO IT. You have the right to refuse until the problem is fixed.

Speak to the Health and Safety Representative on the job. If there isn't one, speak to your Organiser or the shop steward about getting one elected urgently!

The ETU has successfully negotiated many agreements regarding Health and Safety on the job in many workplaces. We provide advice and information on all the issues.

We are there when you need us and we don't put your life on the line.

I was under pressure from the company and ended up injuring myself. Two months later I called upon the union, because things got complicated. The union helped me get free legal advice and representation at a hearing. The union's been there with me all the way.

Nick, ETU member


We are entitled to compensation if we suffer a work related injury because the ETU alongside other unions fought for many years to get decent compensation for workers if they were injured at work.

However, the state government has made it harder for workers to get fair access to compensation and easier for insurance companies to get out of paying. That's why you should never go through the system on your own.

Your union ticket is all you need to ensure that if you have an accident, you are well looked after through professional legal advice and representation.

The union has access to a law firm with years of experience and expertise in dealing with cases in this field. We recommend that you don't seek advice elsewhere as the legislation in the Workers' Compensation area is complex and constantly changing.

We understand that being on compensation is difficult for many workers. We may not be able to fix the pain, but we're here to make sure you're not ripped off in any way.

At your service

I thought I wasn't being paid right. The Steward and I had a chat, and she agreed. It was a classification thing, I should have been paid at a higher level for the work. The boss said he would look into it, which didn't give us much satisfaction, so we rang our Organiser who came down a few days later and sorted it out. I got back pay as well.

Carmen, ETU Member

Every day the industrial staff at the ETU are making regular workplace visits to resolve disputes, answer queries, offer advice, check on health and safety and a myriad of other tasks which is part of an Organiser's job.

Most workplaces have a Shop Steward who is elected by the ETU members who work there. If your workplace doesn't have one you should talk to your Organiser about electing one.

The Shop Steward is the Union contact at your workplace.

The Union provides extensive training for Shop Stewards and they are often able to resolve a problem on the job without requiring the assistance of an Organiser. The other Union representative at the workplace is the elected Health and Safety Representatives. Under the law a Health and Safety Representative can decide whether something is unsafe and they have the right to demand that it be corrected.

Both the Shop Steward and the Health and Safety Representative call on the Organiser if a problem or a dispute cannot be resolved at the workplace level. The Organiser will then visit the workplace to negotiate with the employer for a satisfactory outcome.

Unions are democratic. If members have a problem it is up to them to decide how to fix it. The Organiser offers support, advice and representation. And we are with you all the way, striving for improvements we can only get by standing together.

Why Unions?

If you've ever had a problem at work, you'll understand why unions exist. If you don't have problems at work, it's because unions exist. It's because others have fought to ensure that your have many of the things we take for granted in our working life today. But those things are not necessarily there forever if we don't keep up the fight.

I wish I was rich, but I'm not. I have to work because I have to work, I have to fight. Because if I don't fight, I will be stepped on. That's the way it is for working people. We have to fight for everything we get. That's why we're in unions. People who aren't in unions, it's like they don't know the facts of life. Because no-one ever gives us anything without a fight.

Mario, ETU member

The ETU is made up of groups of workers who have organised themselves into the union to solve problems that they can't solve on their own. We know that as a group, we have more power than individuals and with that power we can put pressure on employers to respond to the issues that concern us in our working lives.

The ETU is made up of workers like you, who want to defend and improve their working conditions and play their role in maintaining a good standard of living for themselves, their families and our community as a whole.

We need your participation so that we can be strong and successful in order to have dignity as working people. Everyday, our way of life is threatened by governments and hostile employers who want to keep us down while their profits go up.

They would like to see us out of our unions and be like those exploited, underpaid non-unionised workers who are ignorant of their rights and suffer more workplace injuries than us. Some of us know what it's like because we've been there. And we sure as hell don't want to go back.

We're proud to be in the union because we know through the hard times we've had, that whatever we can achieve on our own, we can always do better together. And we do.

If you're not a member, join. If you are a member get involved. And let's do it better together.