A trade union is an organisation of members/ employees who represent the collective voice of those members.

One of a trade union’s main aims is to protect and advance the interests of its members in the work- place.
Most trade unions are independent of any employer.

However, trade unions try to develop close working relationships with employers to deal with common interests and objectives.

The CWU is the Communication Workers Union and mainly look after workers in the Telecoms and Postal Industries. Most of our members work for BT/Openreach/EE, Royal Mail or the Post-Office.

Employers which ‘recognise’ a union, agree to negotiate with the union over members’ pay and conditions.

This is known as ‘Collective Bargaining’.
Team Members working in BT enjoy the benefits of a longstanding collaborative recognition agreement between BT and CWU.

Part of the agreement includes local, regional, and national structures of employee representatives that act as ‘the Union’ within BT.

Trade Unions undertake many roles including:

Negotiate with employers on pay, terms and conditions and any major changes such as business transformations

  • Discuss local concerns with employers with the intention of resolving issues before they turn into disputes

  • Accompany and support members in disciplinary and grievance meetings

  • Provide support and informal advice on a totally confidential basis, including employment related legal advice

  • Provide education opportunities and other benefits such as discounted insurance and wider legal advice and services

  • Run campaigns and political lobbying on wider employment matters, social and political aspirations of its members

Workers join a trade union for all sorts of reasons.

This might be to insure yourself against the unexpected at work. You may never go through performance or disciplinary action, but we all suffer unexpected sick absence and other family matters like changes in childcare arrangements or caring responsibilities which interfere with work for which you might appreciate some help with. Joining the union might just offer the peace of mind that there’s someone in the background who you can turn to if you ever need it.

Some people join because being part of the union is a normal part of having a job. They join to support their colleagues as much as themselves. There is strength in numbers and nowhere is that more true than in a workplace.

They also join because unions can:

  • negotiate better pay than non-unionised workplaces
  • negotiate to protect or improve working conditions, like more holidays or improved health and safety
  • give general advice, support and representation

Union members have the legal right to be accompanied to a discipline or grievance hearing by a trade union representative.

Although unions can set a qualifying period before they are obliged to provide this. In your local Union Branch this is 3 months membership (unless you are new to the job). Unions will not normally help with problems which pre-date your membership. This is aimed at stopping people joining and leaving the union when they run into trouble.

Being represented in a formal hearing means your representative will normally:

  • Help you understand what’s happening. They can talk you through the Absence, Grievance or Disciplinary Processes.
  • Discuss the issues in complete confidence and agree the best way to present your case.
  • Speak on your behalf (though they cannot answer questions put directly to you)
  • Help clarify misunderstandings and diffuse confrontational situations
  • Address procedural issues on your behalf and challenge the business if it looks like there might be a breach of policy or process
  • Review any outcome decision with you, help you understand the consequences and your options to appeal against. Up to and including helping you take your case to an Employment Tribunal (the external legal body that deals with disputes between employers and employees)

Union members have legal protection against unfair treatment for being a union member or seeking their support. Despite this many people think going to the union will be frowned upon by their managers.

The simple truth is your local reps work hard to maintain a positive and collaborative relationship assisting member and manager towards handing issues in a non-confrontational way and as a result, many managers will recommend their employees contact their union, not just because you’re already paying for the service anyway, but because meetings often go more smoothly with the support of a representative.

If you don’t believe us, ask your local Centre Manager and see what they think.

If you want to join the CWU, you can join: online, in person, over the phone using the contact details below.

0331 663 6757

The easiest way to do it is through your local site representatives. If you don’t know who that is, your colleagues, or your manager are likely to be able to provide you with their contact details.

Membership fees depend on how many hours you work per week (currently it’s just £15.79 per month for full-time employees, less for part-timers). Your membership subscription comes direct from your wages so you’ll see it on your payslip, and you can stop at any time.

The Communication Workers Union offer several other benefits over and above what you might expect.

A Range of Legal Services
The union, together with the GMB Union set up Unionline to provide a broad range of legal services. These include:

  • Personal Injury Claims Management
  • Will writing
  • Legal Advice on work and non-work related issues


Access to Further Education
The union works with partner education organisations to provide access to accredited and non-accredited adult education across a wide range of topics. These include online courses on improving your basic educational needs and more non-vocational course for your personal development.

Discounted Products and Services
The CWU use the buying power of members to negotiate various discount deals on goods and services. The portfolio of opportunities is in regular review and are subject to change. See the CWUs main website for the most updated list.