Unions and bargaining

Unions support employees in the workplace. They bargain for collective employment agreements with employers and help employees with information and advice about work-related issues.


Employees can choose whether or not to join a union. Unions negotiate collective employment agreements and advocate on behalf of employees.

Collective agreements

Collective employment agreements are agreements between employers and registered unions that cover employees in the employer’s workplace.

Unable to agree

If parties can’t agree, they have several options to choose from. These include asking for help from Employment Mediation Services or the Employment Relations Authority (ERA).

Strikes and lockouts

Strikes and lockouts can be used as a tool by parties to collective bargaining or for health and safety reasons. Notice must be given of strikes and lockouts.

Work stoppages

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment compiles data annually about work stoppages.

Employment relations education

A union may allocate paid employment relations education (ERE) leave so members can attend approved courses in employment relations.

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