COLLECTIVE RIGHTS FOR TRADE UNIONS – RECOGNITION
The only collective right that directly supports trade union bargaining is the right to the disclosure of information from an undertaking prior to negotiation on matters of collective bargaining.1 The other institutional rights – such as the right to information and consultation on redundancy, on the transfer of an undertaking, health and safety and pensions – indirectly reinforce freedom of association and collective bargaining by promoting trade union influence at the workplace. A major drawback for trade unions is that most of these rights are dependent upon the trade union being recognised by an employer. Furthermore, there is little incentive for workers to join a union which is unable to negotiate on behalf of its members for enhanced terms and conditions of employment. Thus, without recognition, a union is marginalised at the workplace and cannot function in any meaningful or effective way. For the past 20 years, the decision whether or not to recognise a trade union has been solely a matter for the employer. Now, as a consequence of reforms established by the Employment Relations Act 1999, a right to recognition for limited bargaining purposes has been introduced.