What happens if an independent union makes a formal written request for recognition?

Where an independent union makes a formal written request for recognition, if the employer agrees within 10 days that the union will be recognised to conduct collective bargaining on behalf of the bargaining unit, no further action is required provided that a method of collective bargaining is also agreed.

If the employer does not accept the request but is willing to negotiate then the parties have a further period in which to agree. Either party may ask the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service to help conduct negotiations. If no agreement is reached, the union may apply to the Central Arbitration Committee for compulsory recognition.

The Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) becomes involved if the employer fails to respond to the original request for recognition or refuses the request without indicating a willingness to negotiate, or if negotiations fail. The CAC will intervene only if the union's application is valid and admissible.

If the Central Arbitration Committee is satisfied that a majority of the workers in the bargaining unit are members of the union, it must issue a declaration that the union is recognised to conduct collective bargaining unless it believes that a ballot should be held in the interests of good industrial relations, or it believes that a significant number of the union members do not want the union to conduct collective bargaining on their behalf. In either of these cases a secret ballot will be held.