Trade Union Recognition

On the 9th December 2016, a new law on recognition of trade unions came into force. This is a new development as previously, recognition was not regulated by law.

In terms of the Recognition of Trade Unions Regulations (SL452.112), the verification exercise which determines who must be granted recognition by the employer is carried out by the Director of Industrial and Employment Relations. The following are the main rules established by the regulations;

(a)    The verification process has to be completed within 28 days.

(b)   Once recognition is granted, no one can request recognition for a period of one year from the date on which recognition is granted. Moreover, no claims can be made during the period starting three months before the expiry of a collective agreement up to three months after expiry.

(c)    A request for recognition has to be made by a union to the employer, always copying the director of industrial and employment relations.

(d)   The Director, upon receiving a copy of the request as stated above, shall request the following lists –

From the union –

Union members including proof of membership through a presentation of records and up to date records of payment

From the employer –

List of employees and in case of check off, the relevant list of employees

(e)   All the information has to be transmitted within 48 hours

(f)     The Regulations contemplate three scenarios -

Scenario 1 –

Where there is no recognized union and a union seeks to be recognized –

If the requesting union fails to send lists above within 48 hours, union is deemed not to have more than 50% of employees as its members.

If the requesting union sends lists but has less than 50% of employees as its members, verification is complete, union does not enjoy recognition and parties are informed.

If the union does have more than 50% of employees as its members, director is to inform the parties and the union starts to enjoy recognition.

Scenario 2 –

Where there is a recognized union and another union seeks to be recognized.

If the requesting union fails to send lists above within 48 hours, union is deemed not to have more than 50% of employees as its members.

If the requesting union sends lists but has less than 50% of employees as its members, verification is complete, union does not enjoy recognition and the parties are informed.

If requesting union has more than 50% of employees as its members, a ballot is triggered. In that case, recognized union has to send lists and all information within 48 hours.

Scenario 3 –

Where there is no recognized union and two unions or more make a request for recognition.

If requesting unions do not send documents within 48 hours OR if neither has more than 50% of employees as their members, verification is complete and recognition is not granted.

If only one has more than 50% of employees as its members, recognition is granted to the latter.

If both enjoy more than 50% of employees as members, a ballot is held.

(g)    The ballot –

 The Director  is responsible for the logistics, date. Every party must cooperate.

 Only members of unions concerned (who are employees) can participate.

 Ballot based on the majority of valid votes cast.

 Ballot paper is to be done in prescribed format.

 The ballot shall be based on a free and secret vote.

 The Director and the representatives from each union shall be the only persons present.

 The result is communicated by the Director to unions, employers and the employer has to publish the   result at the workplace.

(h)   Top management can be excluded from lists/ballot according to article 67 of EIRA. The employer who excludes top management must inform the Director within one week from the request for recognition.