Trade Union Recognition Law

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Union Recognition

From the year 2000, there has been in existence a legal procedure by which unions could be forcing the employers to give them recognition and getting into bargaining about the amount of pay of the workers and the condition of working in the companies. The latest law, had been introduced as seen in Employment Relations Act of 1999, which is quite complex too. A very much central role will be played by the CAC which functions independently.

The CAC often requires considering the union recognition based claims sent to it. In this manner, a controlled kind of agreement will be reached between the concerned parties. If this is not established, the management is required to identify the union and then make a ballot of the particular workforce. This law is to be followed in all companies which employ at least 20 individuals.

The particular process is initiated by one union or a group of them who work together and make a claim of recognition for a particular bargaining group. The management can later on accept this kind of claim or directly reject it or enter into negotiations to secure a better deal. If it is deemed necessary, then people from the CAC panel can ask those belonging to the ACAS to make the parties agree in reaching a deal.

If all these processes fail to provide results, then hearings are done to announce the result. The CAC will of course be considering the test if the particular bargaining group is quite lucid in nature and will be including all those people who agree with proper management.

If it is shown that more than 50% of the workers are part of the bargaining group, belong to the unions bringing forward a claim, the CAC will tell to undertake the process of recognition. If there is evidence to show that a good number of members did not want the union to get recognized or if the members of the panel are convinced that it would serve the company best to organize a ballot first, then recognition would be halted for a while.

If a union show that more than 10% of the people of the bargaining group belong to the union, and evidence is brought forward to show that the ballot would serve the interest in the best way, then the CAC will of course order the ballot. You will see in most of the cases, the evidence which would be used would be a petition from the workers as said in the bargaining group.

The ballots which have been ordered by the people at the CAC panel are bought together with the money of the employer as well as the union. Everything is overseen by the scrutinizers. The different ballot papers are sent to the residential address of the employees, the handbills for campaigning can also be sent along with it. To win this kind of ballot election, the trade union needs to get a majority.

This would mean that at least 40% of the employees agree to the decision. The different workers hence have to show a great deal of support. The process will not be successful if only a small number of people cast their votes. If a ballot election is won by the union, then the CAC will give the order to recognition.

The employer has three years of time to get into bargaining with the people. After this period has passed, can people think about derecognition. If so happens, then another application is required to be provided to the CAC and another vote is needed to be held similarly.

UK has laws different from the usual ones and here collective agreements cannot be enforced upon people even in a legal manner. Hence these agreements are only honorable in nature and the breaching of agreement on one side may not result in the party taking some legal action and complaining about the breach. In countries of Europe as well as America, this does not happen.

The collective agreements in those countries are like actual contracts and are written in a language which is less confusing than that in the UK. Exceptions are of course made, such as for collective agreements, made according to the orders of the CAC. If a particular employer has been made to recognize a union in a forceful manner, the agreement which had been formed as a result of this goes up in the court of law. The employers can hence stop from recognizing a trade union in a forceful manner. 

Window on practice

When compulsory recognition was in place, the CAC had received 255 different applications from the various trade unions. Among these, 23 got recognition without any problems and 35 after conducting the ballot. These figures brought to light that the law of recognition was not having a very good impact. 124 applications had been withdrawn, as voluntary agreement had been done between the two parties.

For four years after this was announced, about 700 agreements regarding recognition got signed between the two parties. This showed a really amazing rise in the number of voluntary type agreements taking place. Such a phenomenon could be explained only by a procedure of forceful recognition. The employers realized that they may be actually forced to recognize a union with the coming of the new law. The terms for recognition might be decided upon by another party instead of the employers themselves. By going through the IDS you will come across lots of recognition agreements signed after the coming of this type of law. Amazingly, some of the employers themselves took up the process of organizing ballot, using the same set of rules as followed in CAC elections.


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