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March 5th, 2013:

Everything you ever wanted to know about union recognition (but were afraid to ask)








Support the campaign to recognise UCU at FX Plus by signing the petition at

Employers have a statutory duty to consult with employee representatives in many circumstances. For example, an employer wanting to make redundancies must engage in “meaningful consultation” with appropriate staff representatives about the reasons for them and the best ways of avoiding redundancies or mitigating the effects. An employer wanting to change contractual terms similarly cannot do it without the agreement of both “parties” and must also consult. If a union branch is established and recognised this the body that the employer must consult with.

In these cicumstances although negotiations of the changes may be done with a recognised trade union all staff will benefit from conditions won by the union whether they belong to the union or not.

Research shows that wages in workplaces that are unionised are higher than in those which are not. Once again these benefits are enjoyed by all employees.

Unions are experienced negotiators with expert advice legal advice “on tap”. It is not an exaggeration to say that all of the benefits enjoyed by staff in the modern workplace have been argued for and won by trade unions and none by those “going it alone”. So it is to the benefit of all employees then that a well-organised union branch exists in your workplace and that it is “recognised” for collective bargaining by the employer.

So how does a union get to be “recognised” by an employer?

Many employers, enlightened or not, accept that communicating and consulting with staff and negotiating changes to terms and conditions is most smoothly done by talking to professional and well trained union representative rather than by trying to address staff at the individual level. The vast majority of employers, therefore, recognise the relevant unions voluntarily.

Where this is not the case, the recognition status can be decided by a body called the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC).

The CAC will look at applications against a number of criteria, many of which relate to the strength of support for recognition among the workers in the bargaining unit.

Where less than 50 per cent of workers in a bargaining unit are trade union members, the CAC will hold a secret ballot to find out how much support the trade union has. The CAC will generally award recognition if 40 per cent of all the workers in the bargaining unit take part in the vote and a majority of those vote ‘yes’.

In brief

  • You are better off in a union
  • You are better off in a unionised workplace (even if you are not in the union)

Support the campaign to recognise UCU at FX Plus. Join UCU at

Sign the petition at

Download leaflets here:  FX Plus – Leaflet A5

If you want to know more about UCU email dotoole (at)