Most union recognition drives are a response to circumstances rather than planned events, a study of trade unions has found.
Campaigns are usually sparked when a union member joins a non-unionised workplace or when a group of staff approach a union with a grievance, the study by independent trade union organisation the Labour Research Department found.
They are rarely the result of a regional or national strategy.
“This can make life difficult for union officials who may end up running more campaigns than they want at any time, but means they have a clearer focus around which to rally workers,” a Labour Research spokesman said.
The study of full-time union officials, involved in 30 recognition drives between them, found that most union officials are sceptical about targeting workplaces unless they have first been approached by staff.
The only time they are likely to plan a campaign is if the organisation is part of a large company with union representation in other locations.
The study, published in the September issue of Labour Research magazine, also found that employers’ attitudes have little effect on whether a union decides to go for recognition.
Officials said membership size is the most significant factor, not employer attitude.