After a lifetime of work, all workers deserve a comfortable retirement. For most people their superannuation will play an crucial part in helping them secure a dignified retirement.

Today almost every worker has the right to superannuation but that right would not exist without the campaigns won by union members in the 1970s and 1980s. Prior to this, superannuation was deeply unfair with less than one in four women and blue-collar workers having an account. High income earners such as permanent public servants and full-time white-collar workers were more likely to have access to superannuation.

Thanks to the campaigning and hard work of unions, a system of compulsory superannuation was introduced in 1992. 

Unions agreed to forgo a national 3% pay increase which would be put into the new superannuation system for all employees in Australia and from 1992 to 2002, the level of compulsory super (the Superannuation Guarantee) rose to 9%. 

Under the Coalition government of John Howard, there was no further increase in the Superannuation Guarantee. 

As a result of campaigning by unions and their members, the Superannuation Guarantee is being increased to 12% by 2025. This will deliver a big increase to workers’ savings for when they retire. 

You can see other current and proposed changes to superannuation at Industry Super Australia

Unions played a leading role in establishing Industry Super Funds — these are profit-to-member superannuation funds dedicated to putting the interests of members first. 

Today, millions of Australian workers are members of Industry Super Funds.

Industry Super Funds have a unique structure:

  • They are run only to benefit members with all profits returned to members, not to shareholders 
  • They are governed by trustee boards representing employees and employers appointed by unions and employer associations
  • They have high-return and responsible investment strategies, which include long-term investment in Australian infrastructure 
  • These differentiating factors have contributed to the impressive performance of Industry Super Funds 

Here is a list of Industry Super Funds. See if you would be better off with an Industry Super Fund by using the Compare the Pair tool.

Helping union members

Unions help members make the most out of your super and savings. 

Unions help ensure that employees have enough super and that it is paid regularly by your employer, preferably into a profit-to-member Industry Super Fund. 

To find out more about the great range of benefits and financial services for union members, and to join your union, go to

The ACTU Network

Australian Unions

Whether you want to join a union, take action in campaigns, or make the most of the benefits of being a union member, Australian Unions is the place to go for information and resources.
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Mind Your Head

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Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA is the overseas aid and development agency of the ACTU. Our work aims to build self-reliance through support to educational and training projects for workers and their organisations in the developing world.
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ACTU National Union Directory

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Australian Council of Trade Unions

Representing Australian workers and their families.