Union Recognition Still Rising
28 April 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.
27 May 2005 - 179 union recognition agreements were achieved in 2004, according to a TUC report.
February 24 2003 -
Trade union recognition is still rising across the UK, according to the TUC's annual
survey, Focus on Recognition, but the going is getting tougher as unions are left with smaller, more resistant
and obstructive employers to deal with.
There were more than 300 recognition deals in the 12 months up to October 2002,
according to the report. This compares with 159 in the 2000 report, which included deals reached before recognition laws came into force.
But last year's figure is slightly less than the previous year's when unions achieved some 'easy-wins' in workplaces
with union members, as a result of a more favourable atmosphere following the passing of
union recognition laws. More than 90% of new recognitions were achieved through voluntary
agreement with employers.
Organizations with new recognition deals covered by the latest report include American Airlines, Boots,
Meridian TV, Church of Scotland, Kwik-Fit, Greenpeace and Air New Zealand.
The report confirms the link between the legal right for unions to win recognition and the
big increase in recognition deals. In the two years following the introduction of
statutory recognition there were 50% more recognition deals (770) than the total number
of deals made in the previous five years (513). However, there are signs that anti-union
employers are increasingly exploiting loopholes in the recognition law to deny staff
recognition of their union.
Brendan Barber, TUC General Secretary Elect, said: "Once again this report shows the dire
warnings that recognition rights would lead to difficulties were wrong. The vast majority
of new deals are coming about through voluntary agreement, and the deals are increasingly
covering more than the basics of pay and conditions, covering issues such as pensions and
"The survey also nails the lie that unions only have a role in big businesses. We are much
encouraged that so many small to medium businesses are signing voluntary agreements. This
provides strong backing for our call to end the exclusion of employees of firms employing
fewer than 20 - disproportionately women and from ethnic minorities - from the right to
have their voice heard.
"But it can be tough going out there. There is still a small minority of employers who
are desperate to avoid working with trade unions and now are using intimidation and unfair
labour practices to deny staff a voice at work. That is why the government should change
the Employment Relations Act to outlaw unfair practices and bullying.
"Yet these difficulties should not overshadow the very real advances that unions are
making, and the growth of partnership relations at work."
Key findings from the report include:
The vast majority of voluntary agreements were for recognition covering at
least pay, hours and holidays. 91% also covered representation at
grievance and disciplinary hearings. There were significant increases in the number of agreements
covering training (62%, 44% in 2001), information and consultation (59%, 41% in 2001), equal
rights (53%), and pensions (36%, 23% in 2001).
The agreement covering the largest number of workers was between Kwik-Fit and the
T&G. As a result 574 workers won recognition following a CAC ballot in which
92.2% voted in favour. Following the CAC ruling, a voluntary agreement was concluded
covering 3,200 workers in over 600 auto centres across the UK (the statutory agreement
only covered workers in London). NUJ recognition at the Bristol Evening Post was a crucial
breakthrough in the Northcliffe Newspapers chain, a regional subsidiary of the Daily Mail
Group. The deal covers 90 journalists.
At board manufacturing company Norcor, the GPMU won recognition in February 2002 for 160
production workers after a 12 year campaign. Amicus secured recognition for 6,000 staff
employed by financial company AMP UK across the country. UNISON achieved recognition for
200 domestics employed by ISS Mediclean in South Durham in July.
Trends in recognition 1995 - 2002
July 95 - Dec 95
Jan 96 - June 96
July 96 - Dec 96
Jan 97 - June 97
July 97 - Feb 98
Mar 98 - Nov 98
Dec 98 - Oct 99
Nov 99 - Oct 00
Nov 00 - Oct 01
Nov 01 - Oct 02
Number of new deals
450 (plus 20 through the CAC)
282 (plus 24 through the CAC)