Trades & Services

Trade Union Official

Trade union officials act on behalf of their union members to negotiate working conditions, wages and employment opportunities.

  • Entry-level education

    Junior secondary school certificate or equivalent

  • Job outlook

    1 2 3 4 5

What does a Trade Union Official do?

Trade union officials act on behalf of their union members to negotiate working conditions, wages and employment opportunities.

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Work activities

As a trade union official you would:

  • represent union members in negotiations or at conferences
  • visit union members at their place of work to check conditions
  • deal with industrial relation issues and complaints
  • ensure employers follow health and safety regulations
  • update union members on regulation updates, legal changes and union activities
  • recruit new members
  • check members are being paid correctly and lobby for wage increases.

Trade union officials either work full-time for a trade union as an official at a regional or national level, or part-time as a representative. Officials are employed by the trade union and representatives are elected by local trade union members.

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Key skills and interests

To become a trade union official, you would need:

  • good negotiation skills
  • a high level of communication
  • an interest in union activities and politics
  • self confidence and an assertive manner
  • an ability to speak in public
  • people skills
  • honesty and a sense of justice
  • problem-solving skills.
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Working hours and conditions

Working Hours

Trade union officials either work full-time as an official at a regional or national level, or part-time as a representative. In a full-time role, you would work a standard number of hours each week. You may be required to work or attend meetings on weekends or outside of standard business hours.

Conditions

As trade union official you would generally work from an office, with visits to union members and officials at their place of business, and to members' workplaces.

A current drivers' licence may be required.

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How to become an Trade Union Official?

Entry Level Education

No formal qualifications are required to become a trade union official. You would receive some some on-the job and formal training from your union.

Your employment prospects may be improved if you have a VET qualification in human resources management, industrial relations or occupational health and safety.

You can also become a trade union official by studying industrial relations, human resource management or occupational health and safety at university. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your senior secondary school certificate or equivalent. English and maths would be appropriate subjects to study prior to university.

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Job outlook

  • 1 2 3 4 5

Employment of trade union officials is projected to decline.

The number of workers represented by unions has declined steadily over the last 20 years, and a number of trade unions have merged their operations. This means there is less demand for the services of trade union officials.

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