Employers are likely to find it harder to defend union demands for
recognition following a decision from the Court of Appeal on the role of the
Central Arbitration Committee in disputes.
In a case involving union recognition at the London divisions of Kwik-Fit,
the Court of Appeal held that in cases disputing the appropriate bargaining
unit, everything turns upon the union’s request and the case it puts forward to
the CAC. The CAC’s duty is to consider whether the bargaining unit put forward
by the union is appropriate. In determining this, the CAC can consider
arguments put forward by the employer, but it is not obliged to take on a
balancing exercise to weigh up competing proposals.
The ruling overturned the High Court’s decision in the judicial review of
the CAC’s award of union recognition to the TGWU in the two London divisions of
Kwik-Fit. The High Court said that the CAC had wide discretion to decide the
most appropriate bargaining unit and that the union’s proposal need have no
more weight than any other proposals.
"This decision is all the more reason for employers to get it right in
the first place before the CAC," said David Morgan, employment solicitor
at McGrigor Donald.