Union structure

Unions are democratic organisations, which means that all members have an equal say in who is elected to represent them. Most unions have a national office with branches in each state.

National level

Unions are governed by a national council and the national committee of management who are elected by members of the union.

Branch level

As well as a national office, unions have state branches. The members of each branch elect a committee of management to manage the business of that branch.

Full-time officials

Many unions also have full-time employees.

  • The president of a union is often the official spokesperson of the union. They represent and argue the unions’ views in public forums and in the media.
  • The secretary is responsible for the overall management and development of the union. The secretary is elected directly by all members of the union every four years. Then there is the assistant secretary, organisers and industrial officers, health and safety officers, officers, education officers, and research officers.

Workplace level

In workplaces union members elect union delegates and members of local workplace union committees.


Union delegates act on behalf of the union in matters and to act as a link between the union’s central office and the members in the workplace.

Relevant Resources

About Unions
Union achievements
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About Unions
Sally McManus, ACTU Secretary
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About Unions
Michele O’Neil, ACTU President
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