Unions have reported a surge in the number of voluntary agreements in the run up to the statutory recognition law.
The TUC said this week that there are now “more voluntary deals than ever before”. And most go further than the pay, hours and holiday bargaining required by the law.
According to the TUC’s latest Trade Union Trends report, unions have won 75 deals, covering 21,366 workers in 10 months. In the previous survey covering a nine month period there were 34 deals.
Eight out of 10 of the new deals cover information sharing and consultation over company performance and strategy. Training was included in three quarters.
Martin Warren, employment partner at law firm Eversheds, said he has drafted between eight and 10 deals for clients in the past three months. “Before the law became an issue I would have been involved in one or two in that time,” he said.
“People are getting in ahead of the game because it gives them a chance to agree something much more wide-ranging, that will benefit both sides.”
The AEEU, which signed a deal covering 1,200 cabin crew at Monarch Airlines last week, said it has noticed an upturn since last year. General secretary Sir Ken Jackson stressed that the deals have not been struck overnight. He said they represent the fruition of months of work promoting partnership.
“Companies saw the employment relations act coming two years ago and they have used that time to think about partnership and what they can get out of it,” said Jackson.
TUC general secretary John Monks said: “Only a small minority of employers are now hostile to unions in principle, most of them recognise that modern unions want partnership and not needless conflict.”