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Recognising a Trade Union

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[Thanks to Michael Reed Employment Legal Officer at the Free Representation Unit for preparing this case summary]

Was a history of consultation between an employer and a trade union sufficient to show that the union had been recognised for the purposes of collective bargaining?

No, concluded the EAT in Working Links v Public and Commercial Services Union.

PCSU brought a claim under the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 regarding failure to consult over collective redundancies. To succeed, they needed to establish that they were a recognised trade union for the purpose of collective bargaining.

There had been a history of discussion and consultation between Working Links and PCSU. But the EAT concluded this fell short of the clear evidence of recognition needed in the absence of a written agreement.

The EAT emphasised that recognition for the purposes of collective bargaining required involvement in the negotiation of collective agreements. Discussions in relation to other matters, such as redundancies, was not the same thing and was not enough to evidence recognition.