Collective Employment Issues

Collective Employment Issues

Recognising a trade union

An independent trade union that wishes to be recognised as entitled to conduct collective bargaining on behalf of a group of workers (referred to as the bargaining unit) will usually seek recognition by negotiation with the employer in question. However, if agreement cannot be reached it may seek statutory recognition by following a statutory procedure.

Collective bargaining resulting from the statutory recognition procedure covers only negotiations on pay, hours and holidays. However, the union and employer are technically free to agree to include whatever additional matters they want.

The statutory procedure is started by the union making a written request for recognition direct to the employer. If that is unsuccessful the union must submit an application for recognition to the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC).

Once a union has started the statutory recognition process (by making a valid request for recognition to the employer), the employer and union may agree that the union is recognised as entitled to conduct collective bargaining on behalf of a group of workers employed by the employer.

Otherwise, once the CAC has received an application for recognition from a union, the main issues that the CAC will decide are:

The CAC must be satisfied that at least 10% of the workers in the union's proposed bargaining unit are members of the union and that a majority of those in the bargaining unit are likely to support recognition of the union.

Whether the bargaining unit proposed by the union is appropriate and, if it is not, what the bargaining unit should be.

The level of support for the union in the bargaining unit. If the CAC is not satisfied that a majority of workers in the bargaining unit are members of the union it will arrange for a secret ballot to be held.

What the method of collective bargaining should be if the union and employer are unable to agree a method between themselves.

Once the CAC has accepted a union's application for recognition in respect of a particular bargaining unit, no matter what the outcome, no further application can be accepted from that union in respect of that bargaining unit, or a substantially similar bargaining unit, for another three years. However, the union and the employer are still able to agree that the union is recognised any time for the CAC’s final decision.

To discuss collective issues further, contact us at employment@berrysmith.com or on 029 2034 5511.

Share This Content