Union recognition: the CAC’s role

It is the CAC’s job to adjudicate on recognition disputes between unions and employers. Unions can apply to the CAC for recognition if an employer refuses to grant it. The CAC will decide whether or not the union has a case under the Employment Relations Act. Its aim is to firstly act as a mediator to try and get the two groups to agree, if this fails, it can impose a decision that both sides have to abide by.

The first thing to decide is to which staff the request for recognition applies. If those staff are already represented by another union that has been recognised by the employer, as in the Premier Prison Services case, the second union cannot apply for recognition.

Assuming another union has not been recognised, the union must show that it can work effectively with management and that a majority of staff in the group are in favour before recognition will be granted.

Both sides must then agree on a procedure for collective bargaining; if they cannot, the CAC will decide.

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