The employment relationship is about an exchange of value. You provide intellectual and physical value to your employers business, in exchange for this you get paid. The employment contract is an agreement that says how this exchange of value should work, it describes how much money an employee will receive, how that value will be delivered, how much work should be done for that value, and the conditions under which you will deliver that value. This forms the terms of your contract. Ideally the agreement should be beneficial to both you and your employer, so that everyone is getting what they want out of the relationship. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way. There are some employers who want to squeeze as much as they can out of the employment relationship, and give very little back. There are some who change their minds after agreement, and others who make you think that you have something, and then deny you your rights under the contract or law when you want to claim it. The simple fact is that when you are negotiating as a single employee, you are at a huge disadvantage because the employer has more power and resources than you do.
This is where trade unions come in. Most of the rights that we take for granted in our employment contracts were originally negotiated by trade unions. This is what trade unions do so well. They negotiate your terms and conditions of employment into a collective agreement which applies to all their members. Then they make sure that your employer sticks to it.
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