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The Central Arbitration Committee (CAC), the body which will make decisions on claims for union recognition, opens its doors today (Tuesday) as trade unions report a climate of more voluntary deals than ever before.

date: 1 June 2000

embargo: 00.01hrs Tuesday 6 June 2000

Attention: news and industrial correspondents

2 pages

Central Arbitration Committee opens its doors

The Central Arbitration Committee (CAC), the body which will make decisions on claims for union recognition, opens its doors today (Tuesday) as trade unions report a climate of more voluntary deals than ever before. And new TUC analysis of recent deals shows most go far in advance of the legal minimum.

From today, unions who have majority support in a workplace will be able to claim union recognition. Majority support means either demonstrating there are 50% plus 1 members in a bargaining unit or winning a `yes' vote from 40% of the workforce (or bargaining unit) in a ballot. The newly formed CAC will assess whether or not a union passes either of these tests. Unions will be able to take claims to the CAC where they have 10% membership and where they can demonstrate that they would be likely to win in a ballot (i.e. through a petition).

The new law comes into force as unions report more voluntary recognition deals than ever before. The TUC's recent Trade Union Trends: focus on recognition report shows unions winning 75 new deals, covering 21,366 workers in only 10 months - almost all of these new deals are for full recognition. New analysis of these agreements shows that most of them cover more than the minimum requirement of the Employment Relations Act (pay, hours and holidays). Eight out of ten included information sharing and consultation over company performance and strategy and 76% included training.

TUC General Secretary John Monks said: "The main effect of this new law is to encourage more voluntary deals. Only a small minority of employers are now hostile to unions in principle, most recognise that modern unions want partnership, not needless conflict. But this law is needed to deal with those employers stuck in the 1980s or trying to bring US-style union busting to Britain."

New recognition deals

    · 87% of Barclaycall staff voted in favour of union recognition in a recent ballot and the company signed a partnership agreement with finance union, Unifi in April. The agreement covers 2,500 call centre workers at Barclays and includes pay, hours and holidays as well as a commitment to information and consultation with the workforce.

    · The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has been talking to several major newspaper groups about securing voluntary recognition agreements where membership is strong. The US-owned Newsquest Group has just agreed recognition following a ballot of the workforce where, on an almost 100% turnout, 84% voted for recognition. The ballot results at the Oxford Mail, also owned by Newsquest, will be released today (6 June).

    · 4,500 support workers at NCH Action for Children are looking forward to a new recognition agreement with white collar union, MSF, and public sector union, UNISON, after a 79% `yes' vote in a ballot, the results of which were announced last Friday (26 May). NCH Action for Children's Chief Executive, Deryk Mead said: "We are pleased to have a clear result. Staff have voiced their preference and we have listened - it's clear they want union recognition and we look forward to forging a partnership with MSF and UNISON reflecting the aims and values of the organisation. The continuing development of a good working partnership with our staff is vital to the effective delivery of our services to vulnerable children, young people and their families."

Campaigns for recognition

    · Banking union, BIFU (now Unifi), lost recognition for managers at HSBC (formerly Midland) Bank in July 1996, arguing that union membership was not appropriate for bank managers. Despite a four year campaign to win back recognition, HSBC has not conceded.

    · Several international banks will be asked for union recognition agreements by Unifi in the coming weeks. These include United Bank Limited, Banca del Lavoro, Bank of Ceylon, and the Union Bank of Nigeria - all of whom have union membership of at least 85%.

Notes to Editors:

Details of other recent recognition deals are available.

All TUC press releases can be found at

A series of TUC rights leaflets are available on the know your rights line 0870 600 4 882. Lines are open every day from 8am-10pm. Calls are charged at the national rate.


Media enquiries: Stephanie Power 020 7467 1310 or Liz Chinchen on 020 7467 1248 or 076 99 744115 (pager)

Other contacts: Barclaycall/Unifi - Dai Davies 0208 879 4259, Newsquest/NUJ - Tim Gopsill 0207 843 3701, NCH Action for Children/MSF - Richard O'Brien 0207 505 3067.

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