What they do
Trade union officials represent the interests of workers from a particular industry or occupation in discussions, negotiations or disputes with employers. They work to maintain and improve wages, working conditions and workplace safety. They may visit members' workplaces to ensure that conditions are met, advising employers of any possible breaches which need addressing. Trade union officials also organise meetings and rallies, where they may address union members, the media and other interested parties about union issues. They represent both their entire union membership in industry wide issues, and individual members who are in dispute with their own employer.
In some unions, trade union officials are elected members, while in others they are employed in full-time, paid positions. Many Western Australian trade unions have a head office in the Perth metropolitan region, with some also having regional offices throughout the state. Trade union officials are usually based in these offices, though they may regularly visit the workplaces of their members, which will vary depending on the types of workers they represent. They have a high level of contact with people from a variety of backgrounds and professions, including other union members, employers, lawyers and politicians. At times they may also liaise with the media. Trade union officials generally work standard business hours, however, they may be required to work evenings and on weekends.
Tools and technologies
Trade union officials use standard office equipment, such as computers, photocopiers and telephone systems. They will also need to maintain a current knowledge of politics and laws, technologies and other factors impacting their members. Updating this knowledge may involve monitoring the media and subscribing to industry journals and newsletters and maintaining a network of professional contacts in relevant positions. Trade union officials should also be familiar with the equipment, technologies and common work practices of the industry and workers they represent.
How do I become one?
Education and training
There is no specific pathway to becoming a trade union official. People often enter this occupation after experience working in the relevant industry.
Your employment prospects may be improved with a VET qualification or degree in a field such as human resources, industrial relations, or occupational health and safety.
Courses in these areas are widely available through universities, TAFE Colleges and registered training organisations throughout Western Australia. Contact the institution of your choice for more information.