Unfair Labour Practices: Trade Union Recognition and Employer Resistance

Submitted by treena on Wed, 01/10/2003 - 15:16

By Keith Ewing, Sian Moore and Stephen Wood

Published in October 2003

On 6th June 2000 a new statutory recognition procedure came into force. The stated aim of the legislation was to ensure that where a trade union has the support of more than 50 per cent of the workforce, it should be recognised by the employer. Three years on, the Institute of Employment Rights has analysed the case-work of the Central Arbitration Committee – the body overseeing the procedure – and examined the extent to which the procedure has delivered on the recognition promise.

The report begins by outlining in some detail how the statutory recognition procedure operates and highlights the degree to which unions have been successful in winning recognition claims in the first three years. But the authors also raise concerns about the anti-union strategies used by employers to prevent unionisation. After detailing examples of such strategies, the authors warn that the changes to procedure expected to be made following the government’s Review of the Employment Relations Act are not radical enough to ensure that the recognition promise is delivered in the future.

The report ends with a series of policy recommendations, the main one being that an Unfair Labour Practices Clause should be added to the legislation to protect against employer interference in union recruitment and organising activities. This is a timely, authoritative and useful insight into the lessons to be learnt from the first three years of the statutory recognition procedures.

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