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Union recognition

Discussion in 'Governors' started by eastendgov, Sep 2, 2015.

  1. Dear Stephen,

    At the request of a number of staff our Headteacher has asked the GB to formally recognise a number of teaching and staff unions. Governors have been presented with a document to sign that sets out the relationship between the unions and the school. The GB doesn't oppose the recognition of unions but we feel unable to scrutinise the document presented to us since staff have a legal right to be represented by a union. Is there anything that the governors should be looking out for? Is there any room for manoeuvre or negotiation? Why would an academy have a Trade Union Recognition Agreement?

    I can't find any information about this elsewhere on The Key or internet.

  2. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    I'm surprised you didn't find any information on the internet eastendgov, I just searched for 'Trade Union Recognition Agreement academies' and it brought up pages of stuff.

    Might also be worth you posting this on the UK Governors Forum, a number of academy governors are regulars there and may have experience


    As this is being discussed just with you, the GB, I assume you are a standalone academy, not in a MAT? (Otherwise I'd expect unions to be discussing this with the MAT Academy Trusty.) Are you a converter academy? If so the right to have the union recognised might be a TUPE right. I can't say for sure but unions seem to think it is.

    The right of an individual to be in a union and the right of a union to be 'recognised' by the employer are two different things. Everyone has a right, as an individual, to be in a union. But unions don't have an automatic right to be 'recognised' - ie to have 'collective bargaining rights'. Employers can voluntarily agree to recognise unions - which is what you are being asked to do - and if employers refuse in some circumstances the union can by law force the employer to recognise them. See the GOV.UK explanation here


    As an LA school the LA entered into Trade Union Recognition Agreements on behalf of all LA maintained schools so individual GBs didn't have to get involved. Now you are an academy the Academy Trust is an independent employer and any previous LA agreements no longer include you. Hence why unions need to negotiate separate recognition agreements with each standalone academy or MAT.

    Right from the start the TUC produced a model Trade Union Recognition Agreement for academies and no doubt the agreement you have been presented with is based on this (or is identical to this!)



    At the time the heads' unions issued this comment on it (that was in 2011, things may have moved on since then)


    Like any other agreement you don't have to accept the terms drafted by the 'other side'. You'll probably feel steamrollered into accepting what's given to you, but don't be, you can negotiate until you are happy with the wording. You don't have to just accept whatever the unions are putting forward. There's lots of examples of the actual agreements signed by MATs and standalone academies online. I'd study some of those and see what changes they made to the union model wording.

    Were you recently an LA school? Are you still on good terms with your LA? Maybe they would be prepared to comment on the agreement presented to you, even if only to give you some informal comments over the phone? Or let you have a copy of the equivalent agreement the LA has.
  3. Thanks very much. Really useful information and links, just what I needed.

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