What is a union?
If young people don’t join and the union fades in twenty years this generation will be looking back and saying “in the old days they had a union and they had deputies and they had rights” and all those things will have been lost. We can’t allow that to happen. Brenda Blethyn
A trade union is formed when workers join together to pursue policies and goals beneficial to one and all. In other words, a union is you and your fellow workers, acting together to better your everyday working conditions.
Unions are democratic organisations representing a group of individuals who are workers in a particular industry or industries. Equity, like any other union aims to improve the working lives of its members and represent their interests at a range of levels. To achieve these aims unions may, for example: negotiate with employers, organise industrial action, set minimum pay levels, lobby government departments and ministers, take up legal claims and provide a range of services to their members.
Workers have the right enshrined in the European Convention of Human Rights to belong to a trade union and being in a union helps balance the power that employers have over individual employees
Unions are independent from employers’ groups. Unions may apply to the Certification Officer, a government appointed person, for a certificate of independence. This is granted where the union is considered not to be under the control or domination of an employer or employers association. Equity is an independent trade union.
If a trade union is “recognised” by an employer then that means that the employer acknowledges that the union represents the employees in that company and will negotiate with the union on relevant matters. Equity has recognition rights with a wide range of employers and employers’ bodies across the entertainment industry. This means we have the right to receive certain information, to be consulted on various matters and to negotiate for our members.
The relationship between a union and its members is set down in the union’s rule book. This governs how the democratic structure of the union works and lays out its objectives.
Equity, in line with most trade unions is affiliated to the Trades Union Congress which is the body that co-ordinates the work of trade unions in Britain.