Recognition deals fall as unions meet resistance

The number of union recognition deals across the UK has dipped as it gets
tougher to sign up employees.

The TUC’s annual survey of recognition claims agreements with the more
receptive employers have been made, and unions are now dealing with more
resistant and obstructive employers.

According to the report Focus on Recognition, there were just under 300
recognition deals last year, compared to 450 the previous year.

The study attributes the significant reduction in recognition deals to the
fact that in 2001, the unions were able to achieve ‘easy-wins’ in workplaces
with union members in the wake of the changed atmosphere that followed the passing
of union recognition laws. The majority of new recognitions are achieved
through voluntary agreements with employers.

Well-known companies and organisations with new recognition deals in this
year’s report – which covers the 12 months up to October 2002 – include
American Airlines, Boots, Meridian TV, the Church of Scotland, the Kwik-Fit
group, Greenpeace and Air New Zealand.

Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary elect, said: "Once again, this
report shows the dire warnings that recognition rights would lead to
difficulties were wrong. The majority of new deals are coming about through
voluntary agreement, and the deals are increasingly covering more than the
basics of pay and conditions, including issues such as pensions and
training."

The number of workers covered by deals made since the Employment Relations
Act 1999 came into force is now around 200,000.

The TUC is calling for changes to the recognition rules in a review of
Employment Relations Act due this week.

It wants to see rights extended to those working for small employers and the
voting system changed.

By Quentin Reade

New union deals

Period                         number of new deals

July 95 – Dec 95           54
Jan 96 – June 96           54
July 96 – Dec 96           56
Jan 97 – June 97           26
July 97 – Feb 98           55
Mar 98 – Nov 98         34
Dec 98 – Oct 99           75
Nov 99 – Oct 00          159
Nov 00 – Oct 01          450
(+20 through the CAC* scheme)
Nov 01 – Oct 02          282
(+24 through the CAC scheme)

* compulsory arbitration scheme

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