In Summary - Trade Union Official
The Work - Trade Union Official
Trade Union officials give advice when members have a problem at work, and represent them in negotiations with their employer. They circulate information between employers and employees, deal with legal and safety matters, disputes and pay claims and represent members in difficulty, for example in cases of injury and unfair dismissal.
Union members usually elect someone to speak on their behalf - this could be a shop steward or office representative. These representatives pass on their views to the management and to full-time union officials. Most unions have branches to support local organisations. In larger organisations, there may be a union branch on the premises, staffed by elected or recruited officers (depending on the union). Very large organisations may have full-time officials on the premises.
Most full-time officials are field officers working in branch and district offices. They cover an industry or area, helping elected office or workplace representatives, and often taking part in negotiations themselves.
Field officers organise, support and advise workplace representatives. Many will also supervise teams of clerical support staff. Other typical duties include attending and organising meetings, rallies and conferences.
National officials work in head offices alongside specialists in trade union affairs, including accountants, lawyers, researchers, and press and information officers. Duties include recruiting members to the union, managing union funds, public relations, general administration and dealing with the media. Head office officials help to plan and put into practice union policy. The job involves dealing with people, analysing information and organising time effectively.
Most commonly reported Work Tasks
- Advise management on matters related to the administration of contracts or employee discipline or grievance procedures.
- Call or meet with union, company, government, or other interested parties to discuss labor relations matters, such as contract negotiations or grievances.
- Draft contract proposals or counter-proposals for collective bargaining or other labor negotiations.
- Draft rules or regulations to govern collective bargaining activities in collaboration with company, government, or employee representatives.
- Identify alternatives to proposals of unions, employees, companies, or government agencies.
- Interpret contractual agreements for employers and employees engaged in collective bargaining or other labor relations processes.
- Investigate and evaluate union complaints or arguments to determine viability.
- Mediate discussions between employer and employee representatives in attempt to reconcile differences.
- Monitor company or workforce adherence to labor agreements.
- Negotiate collective bargaining agreements.
Interests - Trade Union Official
This occupation is typically suited for people with the following Career Interests:
Enterprising people like situations that involve using resources for personal or corporate economic gain. Such people may have an opportunistic frame of mind, and are drawn to commerce, trade and making deals. Some pursue sales and marketing occupations. Many will eventually end up owning their own business, or in management roles in larger organisations. They tend to be very goal-oriented and work best when focused on a target. Some have an entrepreneurial inclination.
Administrative people are interested in work that offers security and a sense of being part of a larger process. They may be at their most productive under supervisors who give clear guidelines and while performing routine tasks in a methodical and reliable way.
They tend to enjoy clerical and most forms of office work, where they perform essential administrative duties. They often form the backbone of large and small organisations alike. They may enjoy being in charge of office filing systems, and using computers and other office equipment to keep things running smoothly. They usually like routine work hours and prefer comfortable indoor workplaces.
As a Trade Union official, you should have a thorough knowledge of industrial legislation and an understanding of management techniques. Good communication skills are very important. You should have strong powers of reasoning and analysis, and be capable of motivating, advising and training workplace officials.
A confident, outgoing nature is important. Good negotiating skills are required, in addition to administrative and organisational abilities. You should enjoy being involved in problem solving situations.
You should be passionate about wanting to help and support people at work, and be committed to protecting their interests. You should have an understanding of the important part that unions play and have played in making our working lives fair, safe and properly rewarded. You should also keep up-to-date with current employment issues, for example, new legislation to prevent discrimination against people with disabilities in the workplace.
Entry Requirements - Trade Union Official
Pay & Salary - Trade Union Official
Salary Range (thousands per year)* 18k - 50k
Last Updated: March, 2017
* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.