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Employment Law Roundup: Union's application for recognition could proceed owing to Article 11 of the European Convention on Hum

The CAC (Central Arbitration Committee) has held that a trade union (the PDAU) could proceed with its application for statutory recognition in respect of a group of Boots pharmacists, even though Boots had already entered into an agreement with a different trade union (the BPA) covering members of the bargaining unit identified.

Boots' existing agreement with the BPA was a "collective agreement" within the meaning of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, even though it did not provide for collective bargaining in respect of pay, hours or holidays. It satisfied the relevant definition because it covered facilities for union officials and the machinery for negotiation or consultation. Given this, on the plain wording of paragraph 35 of Schedule A1 to TULRCA, the CAC should not have accepted PDAU's application for statutory recognition.

However, the CAC emphasised that the TULRCA statutory recognition scheme must be construed in the light of Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights (which sets out the right to form and join trade unions). In its view, prohibiting an independent union from seeking statutory recognition where no other union has collective bargaining rights for pay, hours and holidays in respect of the group of workers would infringe Article 11. The CAC felt able to add words into paragraph 35 providing that a union's application for statutory recognition will only be thwarted by that paragraph where another union is already entitled to conduct collective bargaining in respect of those matters. (Pharmacists' Defence Association Union v Boots Management Services Ltd TUR1/823/2012 (CAC).)

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