Unions cautious on recognition disputes

The first disputed cases of statutory union recognition have come at a
slower rate than expected, as unions exercise caution.

Sir Michael Burton, chairman of the Central Arbitration Committee, which
mediates in contested recognition cases, said it had had only 10 applications
in the four months of its new powers.

When the CAC came into force with the union recognition section of the
Employment Relations Act in June, it was planning for up to 150 cases in the
first year. The CAC has nine deputy chairmen and 32 members representing
employers and employees. There has been a major expansion of both committee
members and staff to take on the expected workload.

"We are delighted with this as it will ease us into our task less
frenetically then we had feared," said Burton. "Probably the reason
for it is the enormous number of voluntary agreements, probably into the

Unions are being cautious in the cases they bring to the CAC because the
process is complex and the three-year bar is a powerful incentive to unions to
get their application as well prepared as possible.

"Either way, I expect the pace to quicken through the autumn."

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