The power to campaign is one of the great strengths of the union movement – we only need to think about the recent class size debate. But, when it comes to broader work-related issues, the problem with our campaigning power is that only 2 out of 10 employees in New Zealand actually belong to a union.
Now the PPTA, in partnership with the other CTU unions, is trying to do something about that. It’s called Together and it is a new union set up to offer a new type of union membership to people who cannot join an existing union.
We know that people who belong to a union, on average, enjoy higher wages and better terms and conditions of employment. That begs the question, “Why doesn’t everyone join?” The simple answer is that many more people would like to, but find themselves in workplaces which are beyond the reach of present union organising resources.
Membership of Together is intentionally set a low rate of $1 per week. “These people face many of the same issues as people who work in bigger, unionised industries, but don’t have the same support available to them. Together will provide support and advice when they need help with workplace issues - like bullying, sick leave, holiday pay, employment agreements or sexual harassment - and it will join them to the wider union movement” says CTU President Helen Kelly.