Members in the workplace have elected a shop steward to represent the trade union and its members in the workplace. The shop steward is elected from among the personnel for a fixed term. The shop steward’s position is based on laws and shop steward agreements. Changing the shop steward’s title into a gender neutral one has been discussed, but so far the legislation and collective labour agreements use the term shop steward.
Shop stewards have many duties. They look after the interest of the employees they represent and the compliance with the collective labour agreements and the laws and they negotiate with the employer on matters concerning the personnel. A shop steward makes sure that employees are treated equally, and gives advice and support to the members in working life, in its changes and in solving potential problems, if necessary.
Shop stewards are involved in developing the work community with the employer and the employees they represent. Although the shop steward primarily represents organised employees i.e. those belonging to a trade union in negotiations, they can, however, represent the whole personnel in co-determination talks.
If there is no shop steward at your workplace, you can contact the union experts to find out how a shop steward is elected. If it is not possible to elect a shop steward at the workplace, the employees can select a delegate from among themselves. The delegate’s duties and powers are defined in the Contracts of Employment Act and in other labour legislation. They are not as extensive as those of a shop steward.