Look back to 1970s for law guidance

Managers should look back to the 1970s to prepare for negotiations with
unions over pay and conditions, lawyers have warned.

Employment law firm Eversheds says few managers have the experience to
negotiate effectively. It is urging organisations to draw on the past to help
them cope when the Employment Relations Act is implemented later this year.

Under the Act organisations will be forced to recognise unions if sufficient
staff are in favour.

A consultation document on the legislation was published in February and the
consultation period ended on 20 March.

Elaine Aarons, head of employment law at Eversheds, London, said there is a
danger of organisations concentrating their efforts on the first phase of union
recognition and failing to plan for the process of negotiation.

She said, "At the moment everyone is concentrating on the wording of
the recognition agreement, but what a lot of organisations will not be prepared
for is what comes next, which is substantive negotiations over pay, hours and
holidays.

"More employers need to develop a total strategy now, learning lessons
from the 1970s. They must not leave it until unions make a formal claim, but
ensure that they are well prepared to secure the best outcome."

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