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How to become a trade union official

Category: Trade Union

Almost seven million workers in the UK belong to a trade union. By collectively bargaining for better pay and conditions, trade unions improve the quality of employment standards. They negotiate agreements on pay, redundancy, disciplinaries, legal and financial problems.

Trade union officials are the representatives of union members and an essential part of maintaining employee rights within the workplace.

There are usually two types of trade union official – those at regional and national level. At regional level, officials:

  • advise on health and safety issues
  • recruit and train officials
  • promote education to local members.

At national level, the role involves developing national policy, research, PR and negotiating with employers and government.

Trade union officials can earn between £50,000 - £80,000 a year and tend to work between 33 to 35 hours per week.

How do I become a trade union official? 

There are no specific entry qualifications for this job. It’s possible to join a national head office straight from university. Relevant degrees, including social science, politics, economics and law, will make you a more competitive candidate.

As well as university, there are other routes to a trade union career. Employees in every sector can become unpaid part time union officials (also known as shop stewards or representatives). Local trade union members elect their representatives to pass on concerns and issues to the management of the company. This provides invaluable experience that can be transferred across to a full-time trade union official role.

Relevant voluntary experience is another great way to demonstrate your commitment to the cause. By getting involved in advice work, campaigning strategy, local politics or negotiation jobs, candidates can get the experience they need.

Candidates can also directly apply to role that they feel they are suited to, particularly if they have relevant knowledge, skills or experience.

What skills do trade union officials need?

Trade union officials need to demonstrate that they possess the applicable skills to carry out the job effectively. These skills include:

  • Patience
  • Problem solving
  • Communication skills
  • Analytical thinking
  • Attention to detail
  • Initiative
  • Understanding of HR and employment law

Are you considering a job as a trade union official? Search our database for current vacancies today. VERCIDA’s proud to work with over 100 employers who value diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email [email protected] for more information.

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