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Support for your business

Trade Unions

We understand the importance of businesses having a symbiotic relationship with trade unions and their representatives, and therefore work with our clients to help them achieve this. In respect of  heavily unionised work environments like the medical, education, financial and manufacturing industries, good industrial relations are key to the smooth running of a business.

Employees have the right to join a trade union if they choose to and, as members, are entitled to legal protection to prevent unfair treatment on this basis, regardless of whether you as an employer recognise the trade union when committing to collective bargaining. This protection adds to the complexity of dealing with trade unions, as an employer and should be considered when entering into negotiations with staff.

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Trade Unions

The legislation behind trade industrial relations is multifaceted with the number of employees potentially involved, contributing to the complexity. The financial implications of the individuals involved can also have significant implications for a business in the event that things are not handled correctly.

If a business is going through a series of changes including restructuring, redundancies, a change in ownership and/or issues with paying salary, the relationship between the business and the trade union can become adversarial. It is for these reasons that having a strategy in place to deal with disputes and collective consultations is sensible and can be beneficial.

Our Employment Team has extensive experience in managing day to day relations with these trade unions; dealing with disputes and negotiating trade union collective agreements. We always work with clients to resolve industrial relations issues pragmatically, efficiently and effectively, making sure we assist in the minimising of disruption and the risk to your business.

Trade Unions are common, regardless of the industry, and provide workers with collective bargaining power when dealing with businesses. Because of this, a constructive relationship with staff and trade unions usually results in a far more productive approach to negotiating in respect of  industrial actions.

Recognition and Collective Agreements

Our Employment Team regularly advises clients on the drafting and interpretation of recognition and collective agreements with trade union representatives, who are a key liaison with trade unions. Recognition of a trade union requires two criteria to be met:

  1. The trade union is independent; and
  2. The employer, or in excess of two employers, recognises the trade union in respect of collective bargaining.

Collective agreements include issues such as terms and conditions in respect of salaries and agreed working hours. They also set the terms for:

  • Which employees will be recognised and protected by the agreement;
  • How negotiations will be organised; and
  • Who will work on behalf of the employees the agreement recognises.

Industrial Action

When disputes can’t be resolved between a business, the trade union representative and employees, a business may be faced with the prospect of industrial action. This can cause complicated issues and expert advice should be sought.

For example, you may seek to secure an injunction should a trade union and its members attempt to take unlawful industrial action. It is the decision of the court as to whether to grant the injunction, but it’s a useful preventative measure that can be applied for where appropriate, in order to minimise disruption.

Our Employment Team is also very experienced in dealing with collective disputes, with a range of experience, from injunctions to class actions in the Employment Tribunal. The team always provides commercially focused advice, keeping the requirements and objectives of your business at the forefront of our minds. Our Employment Team will represent you at the Employment Tribunal, should things get that far, with skill and pragmatism and always with the objective of minimising your exposure to risk, as our priority.

Get in touch

Talk to us about your legal challenges and discover how our expert, pragmatic legal advice and broad commercial acumen can help.