'Delaying tactics' adopted by some employers when workers contact the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) for statutory recognition has led to a drop in applications from 64 in 2007-08 to just 42 in 2008-09, the TUC has claimed.
The significant fall in applications over the past 12 months was unveiled in the CAC's annual report, though the committee put the figures partly down to the worsening economy.
Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC, explained: "Experience has shown that a small minority of poor employers will then try any number of delaying tactics in an attempt to avoid recognition. For this reason, unions will try wherever they can to get a deal sorted within the workplace."
Though according to one industrial relations expert, this drop in applications could also be attributed to 'nervousness' during a time when job cuts are commonplace across industries.
Ian Greenwood, lecturer in industrial relations and HR management at Leeds University, said: "The reduction in CAC claims could well reflect a nervousness from union members. The majority of recent recognition claims have been in the private and manufacturing sectors. It is this area of the economy that is being hardest hit by the recession."
HR could also be playing a role in the reduction of applications to CAC, with departments working harder to communicate the genuine need for pay cuts and gaining employee and union acceptance, Greenwood added.
"This reduction could also reflect an interest from firms in working more closely with unions to better sell to employees the necessity of pay reductions and lay-off arrangements," he said.