26 January 2018
As we predicted the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) has rejected an application by a trade union for statutory recognition to negotiate directly with the University of London on behalf of a group of workers who work at the university but who are employed by Cordant Security, a facilities management company.
The union described the university as the “de facto employer” and claimed that UK law, if it prevents these workers from collectively bargaining directly with the university, is in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The CAC did not rule on the point.
It did however consider that UK law on collective bargaining requires there to be a contract between the workers and the employer, but there was no such contract between these workers and the university. For this reason, the CAC found that the university could not be their employer for collective bargaining purposes and thus the application failed.
The CAC found that allowing the application to proceed would be a "recipe for chaotic workplace relationships" because two unions could then have the right to negotiate with two employers on behalf of the same group of workers. This would go against the CAC's statutory duty to promote "fair and efficient practices and arrangements in the workplace".
The CAC’s view was that any such decision to expand the scope of statutory recognition could only be taken by parliament, and the question of compatibility with ECHR would be a matter for the High Court.
The CAC also rejected the union’s application against Cordant because the company already had a recognition agreement with Unison.