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NWU CALLS ON UNIONS TO DISCUSS COURT JUDGEMENT ON RECOGNITION

posted 28 Feb 2018, 01:39 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 28 Feb 2018, 01:42 ]
Dave Smith, President of the National Workers Union, sent the following letter, dated February 24th 2018, to all unions. 

RBC FINANCIAL (CARIBBEAN) LIMITED V. THE REGISTRATION, RECOGNITION AND CERTIFICATION BOARD (JUDGEMENT - CV 2017-00827)


On 14th December 2017, the High Court handed down a judgement brought by RBC Financial (Caribbean) Limited against the Registration, Recognition and Certification Board on the question of the Certificate of Recognition issued by the RRCB to the Banking, Insurance and General Workers Union. This judgement quashed BIGWU’s Certification for the workers at RBC Financial (Caribbean) Limited and in the process dealt a major blow to the ability of unions to organise workers.

The judgement focused on three critical areas:

1. The application of Section 34(3)(b)(i) of Industrial Relations Act (IRA), which is about “member in good standing”;

2. Issuing Global Receipts and Good Accounting Practice;

3. The employers right to access to Union Records so that they can check membership  in good standing.

Essentially, this judgment requires unions to organise and collect union dues in the eight (8) weeks immediate prior to making a claim for recognition. This represents a major practical challenge to the ability of unions to organise - particularly in large bargaining units. In the face of these major obstacles to organising, it could well be argued that Trinidad and Tobago is now in breach of ILO Conventions 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise and 98 on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining .

This development opens up both a challenge and an opportunity:

● The challenge is how unions now respond to the immediate implications for organising posed by this judgment;

● The opportunity is that it raises the possibility (again!) of raising demands about amending the IRA. This means that the trade union movement will need to develop what it would want to see as an alternative to the current legislative arrangements for obtaining recognition.

In light of the above, the National Workers Union is calling for a meeting of all Trade Unions to discuss the issues raised by this judgment, and particular the two points referred to above.

This is an issue on which the three trade union Federations need to convene a joint meeting to discuss where this judgement leaves the trade union movement and its ability to effectively organise workers.

The National Workers Union therefore calls on all three Federations to take the initiative and convene a joint meeting of all trade unions to discuss the way forward as a matter of urgency.
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