Trade Union Official

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Trade union officials are elected by members to be representatives and advocates for them in discussions or negotiations with employers. They may deal with issues relating to pay and conditions, occupational health and safety, disciplinary actions and disputes over dismissal. Professionals in this field essentially use their industry, legislative and legal knowledge as well as communication and negotiation skills to try to protect the working rights of members.

They may be active at a branch, regional, state or national level and their tasks and duties vary accordingly. Those active at the local levels may:

  • Recruit and train other union officials
  • Consult, provide advice and act on local disputes and issues
  • Promote particular initiatives to members Tasks at a state or national level may include:
  • Developing and advising on policies
  • Negotiating with employer organizations, government bodies and political parties
  • Conducting research and designing education programmes
  • Handling media enquiries

Union officials often have professional expertise in the sector that they represent or have completed university studies in relevant areas such as policy and law. They often work long and irregular hours and are often not particularly well-paid.