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Trade Unions & Works Councils

Our specialist Trade Union and Collective group advises employers on all aspects of their industrial relations, specialising in advising on managing their relationships with trade unions, European Work Councils and other collective issues. Our team is made up of lawyers recognised as leaders in the field and is headed by a former trade union official.

We work with employers in many different sectors but one thing that we always do for them is make sure our advice is tailored to their needs, taking into account not only the type of workforce they have but also the relationship they have with their union or any European works council they have. Advising in this area is not just a question of applying black letter law, it’s about having the experience of dealing with such issues before and recognising what works and what doesn’t.

Issues we advise employers on include:

  • industrial relations strategy
  • dealing with union recognition requests
  • avoiding and dealing with industrial action including picketing
  • dealing with other leverage tactics increasingly being used by unions
  • demonstrations, sit ins and protests; the ability to withhold pay and benefits
  • applications for injunctions
  • defending claims by trade union representatives of detrimental treatment and dismissal on the grounds of their status and involvement with the union
  • dealing with unwanted union requests for confidential information; drafting and amending collective agreements
  • defending claims of inducing employees to withdraw from having their terms determined by collective bargaining
  • establishing European and National Works Councils (including working with members of our international alliance in relation to the same when necessary) and
  • the management of all stages of the process to establish a European Works Council
  • ongoing compliance with and the renegotiation of existing European Works Council agreements
  • strategic planning for the future impact of Brexit on European Works Councils

Related items

Court of Appeal decides that unions do not have a veto during collective bargaining

17 June 2019

The Court of Appeal (“CA”) has ruled that offers made directly by an employer to its employees in relation to pay and working hours did not amount to an unlawful attempt to bypass collective bargaining contrary to section 145B of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (“TULRCA”). S.145B is only engaged if the employer’s purpose is to stop employees’ terms of employment from being determined by collective agreement on a permanent basis.

EU Commission confirms its views on EWCs and a “no-deal” Brexit

01 May 2019

The European Commission (“EC”) has recently revised its March 2018 guidance on the legal repercussions of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU for European Work’s Councils (“EWCs”), including the implications of a “no-deal” Brexit.

Outsourcing: TU recognition application against service provider and client thrown out

05 April 2019

The High Court has dismissed a judicial review of two decisions of the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) in relation to outsourced workers based at the University of London. The CAC had rejected applications by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) for recognition for collective bargaining.

European Works Councils under Irish Law

25 March 2019

European Works Councils are the only legally-mandated bodies for transnational information and consultation with employees in the world.

EAT rules in first UK appeal case on European Works Councils

20 March 2019

In the UK’s first ever appeal case on European Works Councils (“EWCs”), the Employment Appeal Tribunal (“EAT”) has ruled that a Special Negotiating Body (“SNB”) can continue to exist after the third anniversary of a request to establish a EWC.

Update on European Works Councils - will Brexit frustrate your EWC?

28 February 2019

The final form of Brexit remains uncertain, as does its impact on European Works Councils (“EWCs”) that are governed by UK law.

Brexit and European Works Councils - a status update and what you need to do next

29 January 2019

The final form of Brexit remains uncertain as does its impact on European Works Councils (“EWCs”), the area of employment law that it will most immediately and profoundly affect. This article guides you through the current state of play and suggests how best to prepare for what might happen to your existing UK law-governed EWC arrangements.

Employment Appeal Tribunal confirms that an employer’s attempt to bypass collective bargaining was unlawful

10 January 2018

A recent decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal (“EAT”) has confirmed that offers made directly by an employer to its employees risk amounting to unlawful attempts to bypass collective bargaining contrary to s145B of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992. This was a costly exercise for the employer as they were ordered to pay penalties of more than £400,000.

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