Employers remain positive about the relationship with trade unions despite some testing times during the recession, research has revealed.
The 2010 IRS survey on working with trade unions, published exclusively on XpertHR, examines the industrial relations climate in 113 organisations. Of the 95 organisations recognising one or more unions, eight in 10 (79%) described the relationship as “very good” or “good”.
Public sector employers are most positive about their relationship with their recognised trade unions, with 83% describing it as “very good” or “good”, compared to 79% of manufacturing and production employers and 64% of private sector services employers.
One-third (34%) of employers said they had been involved in a collective dispute with their trade union(s) in the past two years. Of these 32 employers, the dispute had led to a ballot for strike action in 17 (53%) organisations.
Even where there has been a collective dispute, a significant proportion of employers remain positive about the relationship with their recognised trade union(s). Of the 32 organisations that had experienced a dispute, two-thirds still described their relationship as “very good” or “good”.
“This is encouraging and shows that the collective employment relationship is not necessarily permanently damaged even where there is a dispute in the workplace,” said Rachel Suff, XpertHR author of the report.
Given the high-profile disputes and legal action to prevent strike action involving BA and Network Rail, the survey asked respondents whether or not their organisation had tried to secure an injunction to prevent industrial action going ahead. Of the 17 organisations where a collective dispute had led to a ballot for strike action, three organisations had turned to the courts to help settle the dispute in this way.
A further 15 organisations (16%) told IRS they would be willing to take legal action if faced with a ballot for strike action in the future.