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Union recognitions stabilise

May 27 2005 - 179 union recognition agreements were achieved in 2004, according to a TUC report. This compares with 166 recognition deals in the previous year, suggesting that the five year old legal right to recognition is settling in.

The TUC Focus on recognition report shows a reduction in the level of deals since the 450 (2001) and 282 (2002) signed in the years immediately after the Employment Relations Act 1999 came into force in June 2000. But unions are still achieving twice as many recognition deals a year than they were before 1999. The survey only covered 71% of trade union members in 2004, compared with 91% in 2003 - so the latest recognition figures may be significantly underestimated.

Between 2002 - 2003 unions used the new recognition rights to win deals in large companies that had previously resisted unionisation. Some of those companies had as many as 90,000 staff. Recently, unions have concentrated on organising workers in smaller companies. Consequently, the total number of employees covered by new recognition deals in the 2004 survey has dropped to 17,871, compared with 57,107 in the previous year. The average number of employees covered by voluntary recognition deals was 154, compared to the 471 recorded in 2003 and 195 in 2002.

Recent recognition deals include: Madame Tussauds (GMB); Rolls Royce Motor Cars at Goodwood (Amicus); Barnardoís (Unison); City Screen Cinemas (BECTU); Friends of the Earth (TGWU); Avon Cosmetics (USDAW); Royal Pigeon Racing Association (GMB) and BBC Wildlife camera men and women (BECTU).

90% of deals covered collective bargaining over pay, hours and holidays - up from 80 per cent last year. 73% had collective representation on grievance and disciplinary issues, while 78% covered bargaining or consultation over training and learning. A growing percentage (42%) encompassed bargaining on pensions and more than half of the deals included the right for employees to be informed and consulted over an organisationís activities and economic situation.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:

'Last year thousands more employees won the right to be represented on and negotiated with over issues like pay, pensions, training and holidays. The fact that many of them work in small companies with no history of union involvement proves that union membership can benefit employees in any company, of any size.'


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