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Union Recognition Deals Tougher to Secure

April 28 2006 - Today's annual TUC Trade Union Trends 'Focus on Recognition' survey shows that the number of agreements signed with employers has fallen despite a trebling of the number of trade union campaigns for recognition deals.

A total of 61 deals were recorded between November 2004 and October 2005, covering 12,000 employees compared with 179 (covering 20,000 workers) in the previous year and 166 in the year to October 2003. Meanwhile, the latest survey shows that 13 unions were running a total of 46 campaigns for recognition compared with 7 unions running 16 campaigns in the previous year. Workers covered by new recognition agreements in this year's survey included 7000 employees at NCH - Action for Children and staff at MUTV, AOL, online discount story Bargain Crazy and the Cathay Dim Sum Chinese restaurant in Manchester.

More tha 1,100 deals, covering over 310,000 employees have been signed since the right to recognition came into force in 2000 (Employment Relations Act 1999).

According to TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber:

"It was always expected that following an initial surge in deals, unblocked by the new legal right to recognition, unions were going to face a tough task in securing new agreements. The dramatic increase in campaigns for recognition, many in areas where few employees have ever had the benefit of union representation, shows that unions are taking on this challenge.

"But unions are facing an increasingly uphill battle. Employers are becoming more and more resistant, though welcome new protection against the worst kind of union busting will now limit this.

"A further boost would come if the law gave unions negotiating rights over pensions where they are recognised. The employer retreat from pensions provision is a key cause of the looming pensions crisis. Too many employees do not have the protection of a union when they face pensions cuts.

"This will be one campaign we highlight on the May Day march for workplace justice in London on May 1."

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