'It's your choice' says IT union

IT workers have from this week the right to be represented in a workplace by a union.

IT workers can from this week be represented in a workplace by a union.

Employers must recognise unions under the Employment Relations Act, which comes into effect this week. The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union, which covers the IT sector, claims 50,000 members, backed by 120 officials, advocates and researchers. Its IT membership is mostly concentrated in telecomms.

National secretary Andrew Little says the union has no specific campaigns aimed at the IT sectors. Recruitment will be driven by members. "We will be rolling out a communication strategy saying the choice is yours," he says.

"One of the fears whipped up is that the unions are going to get the jackboots on and stamp around. [But] our job is about giving employees the choice [to join]."

As well as employers having few reasons to refuse union representation, workers can negotiate collective agreements.

Little says employers won't have dealt with unions before and will find them a different beast to what they have heard in older, "closed shop" times.

"Voluntary membership has made a difference. Unions have to represent their members, not [do] what union officials want."

The EPMU plans celebrations this week to mark the new act and has a 0800-1UNION phone line to help attract members.

Spokespeople from ITANZ and the Employers Federation were unavailable for comment.

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