Trade unions definition

Trade unions aren’t as commonplace as they were. Perhaps that’s because general working conditions for UK employees is pretty good. We’re protected by a bunch of rules and regulations like health and safety and the country’s redundancy laws that make our working lives bearable and pretty comfortable, particularly when compared to other countries. A trade unions definition isn’t easy because each one tries to accomplish different goals, but we’ll give it a go.
    wikimedia commons

Dictionary definition

If you’re just after the dictionary definition, here goes. A trade union is an organised association of workers in a trade, group of trades, or profession, that’s formed to protect and further their rights and interests.

In practice

There’s a reason why not every type of work has a trade union. The basic reason is that most jobs don’t call for it so people in administration positions for example are rarely, if ever, in a union. People who work for the public sector though are often invited to participate in a union so nurses, teachers and civil servants have their own trade unions.


The health care trade union is called UNISON. It currently has something like half a million members, all of whom work in the NHS. UNISON offer counselling services, they fight the NHS for change in member’s remuneration packages and working conditions and they deal with the key issue of cuts in the workforce and the privatisation of parts of the NHS.


The teacher’s union is called NUT, or the National Union of Teachers. “Nut” is probably an unfortunate acronym for these guys, but putting that aside, this is a union that works very much in the same way as UNISON. Working life and pay rises are their primary concern.

Further reading

If you’d like more information on trade unions or if you’re interested in finding out if there’s one for your profession, why not head to tuc.org.uk, where you’ll find a list of trade unions covering a wide range of professions.

United Kingdom - Excite Network Copyright ©1995 - 2021