Joining an union in Canada

Canada is known for its almost 1,000 different unions and their many members. The choice to join is up to each individual employee, but there are factors to consider and understand before making your decision.

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Unions offer many benefits to workers, and Canada currently has more than four million union members across the country. Canada’s unions are the strongest in industries such as manufacturing and transport, and are relatively low-key in professions such as services and finance.

What exactly is an union?

Under the Labour Code of Canada, all employees have the right to form unions. They are a group of like-minded individuals or workers who come together to better bargain against company management in regards to issues like wages, hours of work and terms of employment, representing the workers’ best interests. Though many places are almost completely unionised, you do have the right to choose not to be a part of the union.

Certain types of employees, such as farm workers, domestic employees of families and managers, cannot be a part of a union or collective bargaining system. In these cases, should a dispute arise, other measures must be followed to try and come to a settlement.

Advantages of unions

For a tax-deductible fee, union members are generally better protected when disputes in wage, hours and terms of employment arise. You have better negotiating power than that of a single person. Some unions also have incentives like medical and dental benefits or will rally against a company for the right to such benefits.

Unions also pay their workers a percentage of their daily pay even when the workers do not work because of a strike. If you are out on the picket line with the rest of the union, you will receive a prorated amount of your wage. This can offset the financial strain that a strike or labour dispute can cause.

Disadvantages of unions

If the union strikes, you are a part of the strike. You may not always agree with what they decide upon, as only an 80% yes vote is required to carry out various actions within the union. As part of an union you may be unable to work other places that are not unionised.

Unions can work both for and against the worker. Dependent on the profession you are in, you should fully research the unions associated with it before deciding whether or not a union is something you should belong to.


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