As we head towards the ASU Delegates Conference in October you may have wondered “what is the role of an ASU Delegate?”
A union delegate is another union member just like you. They have a job to do every day, and they answer to the same management that you do. The key difference is that a union delegate has training, tools and protections to help you and other members solve problems at work! In short, the job of a Delegate is to act as representative of the Union in the workplace. In conjunction with ASU officials, the duty of a Delegate is to advance and protect the interests of the Union and the wages, conditions and welfare of its members.
Some of the ways delegates do are:
- Promote the Union, its activities and the benefits of membership, including participation in induction sessions for new employees;
- Enroll new members into the ASU and maintain a high level of membership;
- Provide assistance to Union members requiring it, including assisting in resolving disputes;
- Promote and campaign for improved conditions of employment in the workplace and/or industry;
- Involvement in negotiating enterprise agreements including by preparing members’ claims, representing the Union during negotiations and communicating regularly with members and ASU officials;
- Encourage and promote the training of Delegates and of members in matters affecting their conditions of employment and participating in such training where appropriate;
- Deal with instances of a breach of any industrial instrument or Union policy or regulation applying at the workplace;
- Distribute and disseminate notices, newsletters, messages sent by the union office.
Delegates have rights under legislation, and during enterprise bargaining the ASU builds further on these, for example:
- Being a workplace delegate without detriment or discrimination in their employment
- Formal recognition by the employer that elected or appointed workplace delegates speak on behalf of their colleagues
- Be consulted with by the employer in relation to workplace changes
- Participate in negotiations, dispute resolution and organising protected industrial action
- Consult with colleagues during worktime in relation to a concern or dispute
In any workplace, regular delegates meetings are an important part of an effective delegate structure. This ensures that issues arising in the workplace can be nutted out early and communication is kept open between the union office and workplace delegates. It is so important to have a range of delegates that come from different departments, as this ensures that the issues can be identified easier and in most cases quicker, and that the delegate is representative of that area.
As you can see, delegates perform an invaluable role with workers, and their efforts undeniably lead to fairer and safer workplaces! Next time you walk past your union delegate at work don’t forget to thank them and say hi!