Are Unions Still Useful?

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Are unions in New Zealand (NZ) still useful is a debated issue. Logic suggests that they provide the necessary balance in power between employers and employees so will always be regarded as helpful. Conversely, changes over time mean they are not as valued as NZ’s representational avenues have changed to cope with new characteristics appearing in the workforce. This essay will explain the ideology behind this theory, illustrate evidence that supports it, but also state arguments against it by showing unions changing roles, unionisation levels, and reasons affecting decisions to join or not. It will show that although time has altered aspects of unions that unions in NZ today remain useful to employees in hearing and representing their …show more content…

Overall membership for women is 56.6% with the highest number in Education and Health and Community Services. For men it’s mining, Construction and Trade Services, Electricity, Gas and Water Services, and Transport and Storage, with overall membership of 43.1% (Department of Labour, 2004). Some unions still prove to be useful in broadcasting views. This is due to the fact that these organisations have large amounts of people so have a large union presence, as unions have to work with large economies of scale to be effective. But even with declining members 43.2% of unions have provided returns with less than 100 members (Department of Labour, 2004). As NZCTU (2010) explains everyone deserves respectful and effective work conditions that offer choice, fairness, and protection. But employee rights are vulnerable to the whims of government and employers. People seek and join unions primarily to improve a problematic situation at work. The collective benefits provided such as support, enhanced pay and conditions, training and education, legal advice and monetary services are another (Tolich & Harcourt, 1999). As well as unions providing these benefits, people are more likely to join if their ideology is left wing oriented (Deery & De Cieri, 1991, as cited in Tolich & Harcourt, 1999). Evidence of this can be seen in Waddington and Whitson (1997) and Tolich and Harcourt’s (1999) studies which looked into why people join unions, with the general reason being, ‘support if I

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