Amicable end to over half of union disputes

Half the number of disputed union recognition cases taken by employers and unions to the advisory service Acas were settled amicably last year.

Before 1998, agreement of full trade union recognition was the outcome in only around one-third of cases.

Acas was asked to assist in 260 union recognition disputes, double the number on average during the 1990s, which is a result of the introduction of the statutory right to union recognition.

Brian Towers, professor of industrial relations at Nottingham Business School, said, “While membership (of unions) is highly unlikely to reach the 1979 heyday of 12 million, there is now clear evidence of a modest, but encouraging revival.”

Towers urged unions to seek voluntary agreements because enforced recognition “holds risks for both sides”.

“For employers and employees, workplace relations could be strained. Losing a few high-profile ballots could damage a union’s reputation and the perception of union recognition as a whole.”

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