Here is a list of some Frequently Asked Questions that may give you the answer you are looking for. Please ring the USU Support team on 1300 136 604 or talk to your local USU Delegate or Organiser for more information.
What industries does the United Services Union cover?
The USU is one of the largest unions in NSW and the ACT, with our members working in local government, energy, airlines and the clerical and administrative sector.
How can the union help me?
With our extensive network of delegates, union organisers and industrial officers across NSW and the ACT the USU is always by your side. Assistance is also available through our USU Support Team on 1300 136 604, so when you have a problem at work we can help you.
Why does the union campaign?
The USU plays a pivotal role in major campaigns to protect our industries, jobs and working conditions. Campaigns are run at workplaces and in local communities to improve the working lives of our members. Campaigns also influence the development and implementation of public policy and industrial legislation.
How does the union help deliver better wages and conditions?
As the union in key industries, the USU leads collective wage campaigns to secure better wages and conditions for workers across New South Wales and, through our Federal Branch, in the ACT. Whether it be campaigning for a local council agreement, or securing a major State-wide award increase, the USU takes action by bringing together our network of members, delegates and organisers who, with guidance from our team of legal and industrial experts, work together to get results.
Collective bargaining initiatives include:
Energy sector agreements
Reduced working hours
Flexible working hours arrangements, for example – Nine Day Fortnights
Private sector collective agreements
Increase Paid Parental Leave entitlements
Workforce Health & Safety
Family Violence Leave
How can the union help me if I have a problem at work?
Individual advice and representation is available should you have problems at work. Our officials understand workplace complexities and have the experience and skills to address and resolve workplace issues.
Drawing on extensive experience and industry knowledge the USU can assist with issues relating to:
Contracts & agreements
Salary system disputes
Negotiating flexible working arrangements
Individual Industrial issues are addressed at the local level in the first instance with assistance from a union delegate or with help from the USU Support Team on 1300 136 604.
Where the issue cannot be resolved at the local level, in consultation with your local delegate, an organiser may make arrangements for the issue to be reviewed by an Industrial Officer. Industrial referrals are assessed on their merits, prospect of success and availability of resources with priority given to collective campaigns. After assessing your grievance the union may provide assistance by way of advice, negotiation, the development of a local campaign or the Union may initiate Court, Commission or Tribunal proceedings upon your behalf, which could include conciliation and/or arbitration.
What if I have a legal problem at work?
The Legal & Industrial Team operates out of our offices in Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong and the ACT. Team members regularly attend regional areas. Our staff of skilled advocates and negotiators have the ability and know-how to consider and review industrial concerns. Where an issue is found to have a major impact, a collective campaign may be initiated. The Legal & Industrial Team provides representation in industrial tribunals for both collective and individual industrial issues subject to Union policy.
Carroll & O’Dea Solicitors
Legal referrals are also available (Subject to Union Policy) to Carroll & O’Dea solicitors. Carroll & O’Dea have over 100 years of legal experience in providing professional advice. Carroll & O’Dea offer the services of law society accredited specialists in a range of areas of legal practice.
A free initial consultation is available for USU members, with a range of legal services being provided without charge.
Our solicitors can also provide legal services including:
Workers Compensation claims
Probate, contested estates and wills
Conveyancing and property matters
A free legal drop in service operates at the Union’s head office in Pitt St, Sydney on Monday and Friday mornings between 9.30am to 12.30pm and at Newcastle on Friday mornings (by appointment – conditions apply). Country itineraries take the union solicitors to regional locations on a regular basis. For more information contact the USU Support Team on 1300 136 604 for visits in your region.
What about health and safety issues?
Having a safe and secure workplace is a basic human right. Unfortunately such rights cannot be taken for granted. At the USU safety issues are treated as important industrial concerns for management and employees. Where there is a real likelihood of danger, action will be taken by the Union to protect the interests of employees and the community.
Our workplace delegates also play an important role in the maintenance of workplace safety through our work with local safety committees. The USU can provide information and advice concerning key safety and health concerns.
The USU has led successful campaigns addressing health concerns in the workplace. Should you have a Health and Safety concern at work contact the USU Support Team on 1300 136 604.
I don't live in the city - can I still get help?
The USU is a state-wide Union, with delegates located in all metropolitan, rural and regional centres across NSW and the ACT. The strength of our rural, regional and metropolitan membership empowers the USU to speak on behalf of communities across NSW and the ACT and ensures that our voice is heard concerning public policy issues. Apart from our Pitt Street head office the union has major offices in both Newcastle & Wollongong. Branch offices are located at Bathurst, Wagga Wagga, Armidale, Dubbo, Grafton, Port Macquarie, Hay and the ACT.
If I become a delegate will I get training?
The United Services Union recognises the contribution and commitment of our workplace Union delegates as the face of the Union in the workplace. Our delegates play a variety of important roles including representing and assisting members with workplace grievances and disputes, as well as representing members’ views at Joint Consultative Committees and other key workplace forums.
Another important role of delegates is to recruit new members and to assist the Union in our various local and sometimes state-wide campaigns. The USU’s wide-spread network of Union delegates across the Local Government, Energy, Airlines and Private Sectors offers vital assistance to the Union’s Organisers and Industrial staff in protecting and enhancing working conditions and ensuring safe workplaces.
To support and upskill Union delegates in the workplace our delegate training program has recently had its biggest overhaul since it was introduced in the early 2000’s. The product of a partnership with the GMB (General Municipal and Boilermakers Union) in the UK, the training is called USU@WORK and has been developed for the Australian context specifically, by USU officials for USU Delegates.
The philosophy behind USU@WORK is that an organised workplace is more than just a group of members who happen to share the same employer. An organised workplace is one where strength is built through good communication and a commitment to fairness and workers’ rights. We can do this by ensuring there are enough well-trained Union delegates to make sure that members have extensive representation throughout the entire workplace.
USU@WORK has been accredited through our RTO, the ACTU and Level 1 training is two units of competency from the Certificate IV Unionism and Industrial Relations, they are:
Develop and implement an organising plan; and
Communicate with workers
Health and Safety Representative (HSR) Training
The United Services Union is also committed to taking a constructive role in promoting improvements in work health and safety practices, and assisting persons conducting businesses or undertakings and workers to achieve a healthier and safer working environment, and promoting the provision of advice, information, education and training in relation to work health and safety. (Part 1, Division 2, 3. Object (1) (c) and (d), WHS Act 2011, No. 10).
We have notified our members and their employers that the Union will commence delivery of Health and Safety Representative training. Our trainers have recently gained WorkCover approved training provider status. The USU’s training is very cost effective and can be delivered in our training rooms in metropolitan Sydney or in regional areas if required.
For further information about any training provided by the USU, please contact one of our trainers on (02) 9265 8211 or firstname.lastname@example.org
How does my Branch work?
The USU is a democratic organisation. Larger workplaces elect local delegates and all USU members are represented by an elected branch committee and by executive members.
Branches hold quarterly meetings to discuss topical issues, receive information and provide feedback to the Executive via their Divisional Managers.
Members can become directly involved in the development of union policy by participating in their local branch.
Branch AGMs are held annually. Elected conference delegates meet annually to discuss and formulate union policy.
Elections for all branch and executive positions are held every four years through the Australian Electoral Commission.
Am I also a member of the Australian Services Union?
On joining the USU you will also become a member of one of Australia’s largest unions, the Australian Services Union.
Through our national union and our union’s Federal Branch, the USU is active in pursuing our members’ interests in national based campaigns and policy initiatives, particularly in the private sector and airlines.
A range of additional benefits are available to USU members as part of their membership of the ASU. Check out the national website at www.asu.asn.au
How can I stay active after I retire?
Many long-standing members facing retirement from the workforce want the opportunity to keep in touch with what is happening in the USU and in the union movement. This service is available through the Retired Members Club.
The Retired Members Club offers you many of the services available to USU members and enables the Union to have the benefits of your experience. For a one-off fee of $30, membership provides a range of services.
Call the Union on 1300 136 604 for more details or for an application form.