5 steps to forming a Union

No matter what industry you work in, the process for forming a Union is similar.

Step 1. Discreetly talk to colleagues about their issues

If you want to form a union in your workplace, make sure your colleagues are on board first.

Instead of directly asking if they’re interested in joining a union, listen carefully to their concerns and what they want to see change before introducing the idea of a union. Is there a big issue that matters to a lot of people?

Everyone has the right to form a union.

However, if management learns of the plan early on, they may start to push back and make the process more difficult than it needs to be. So, it’s important to keep these early conversations with your co-workers discreet.

Step 2: Contact SIPTU to discuss the next steps

Once you have support from your colleagues to form a union, the next step is to contact SIPTU.

Experienced Union organisers can guide you on what steps you need to take and assess if starting a union is the right choice for you and your colleagues.

While the decision to start a union is ultimately up to you and your colleagues, contacting a union organiser is a great way to get started.

You can speak to a union organiser on our confidential helpline on 01 8586367

Step 3: Create an Organising Committee

Now that you have support from your colleagues and a union, it’s time to set up your organising committee.

This committee will be responsible for identifying the big issues in your workplace that need to be addressed (such as pay or conditions).

It will also be responsible for talking to other employees and building support for a union.

It is important that this committee is as representative as possible of the entire workplace. For example, each department or shift should be represented by at least one committee member.

Once the organising committee is formed, they are responsible for developing a plan of action and executing it. This may include holding information meetings, handing out flyers, conducting surveys and other activities to raise awareness about the union.

The organising committee is an essential part of forming a union.

Step 4: Building a Strong Union

At this stage you know the big issues that people care about; now it is time to build a strong union to change things for the better.

This involves getting everyone to join the union.

The stronger the union, the harder it is for management to ignore you, so you should aim to have a strong majority of your colleagues in the union.

Step 5: Meeting with Management

Once your union is strong enough, it is time to approach management and start negotiations.

Instead of individual deals, you want to negotiate better pay and conditions as a group, or ‘collectively’.  This is how we level the playing field between management and workers.

This can be a big change for management, and they might be resistant.

However, if you have a big membership and strong committee, it will be very difficult for management to ignore you.

There are independent third parties that can help in these situations, but your aim should always be to negotiate directly with management. This is how to get the deal done.