Freedom of Association

Recognition Agreements

A recognition agreement is an agreement between a union and management allowing a union on site to organise represent and bargain collectively for its members. Without a recognition agreement, all a union is legally allowed to do on site is represent members in disciplinary and grievance hearings.

A recognition agreement is normally drawn up at the beginning of a union/management relationship to set out the terms and scope of negotiations. A typical agreement might include:

  • Recognition by the company of the union having the right to represent members.

  • The definition of what "the bargaining unit is” – scope of workforce covered by the agreement.

  • Agreement that membership is not a condition of employment by both parties.

  • The company will often provide "check-off" facilities for the deduction of union subscriptions at source (directly from the pay packet).

  • A statement of principle e.g. that the parties intend to maintain good industrial relations as there is a common aim in ensuring the prosperity of the company for the benefit of both shareholders and its employees.

  • Company formally recognises the union's responsibility for representing its members' interests in particular to communicate and consult with employees on matters concerned with their employment.

  • The union will typically acknowledge the management's right to plan, organise and manage operations and its responsibility to communicate and consult with its staff in relation to their employment.

A trade union may seek recognition in an organisation by voluntary or statutory means.

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