Where we stand‎ > ‎News & Comment‎ > ‎


posted 6 Nov 2013, 18:22 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 8 Nov 2013, 07:55 ]


On Monday November 11th, in keeping with a decision taken by the National Executive Committee of the National Workers Union (NWU) on August 11th, the Registration, Recognition and Certification Board (RRCB) will be picketed on Monday 11th November 2013, beginning at 1:00 pm.

The picket, while initiated by the NWU, has the formal support of the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) and is conceived as the beginning of a campaign of pickets and other activities to pressure the Board into changing its oppressive practice towards workers and unions.

The NWU wrote to the Recognition Board on 19th October 2012 seeking a meeting to air our views on the recognition procedures. General Secretary, Dave Smith, met with Board Secretary Brendon Taitt on 4th February 2013, where the issues were discussed. Since then there has been no movement.

The picket was delayed because the JTUM was actively seeking to have a meeting with the Bard, but after months of trying, the Board has not found it fit to meet with the JTUM.

The practice of the Board in assessing recognition claims has long been
a source of frustration for trade unions and workers who wish to exercise their right to be organised. The Board takes an amazingly long time to determine whether an application for recognition as the Recognised Majority Union for a group of workers is determined. Years pass, while the Board fiddles with issuing a recognition certificate and union organisers and supporters on the workplace are persecuted and dismissed by managements for daring to exercise their right to join a union of their choice.

Instead of expediting the process of workers exercising their constitutional right to join a union of their choice, the Board becomes an active agent of the employers in trying to avoid unionisation and in terrorising workers who wish to do so.

The Board is charged by the Industrial Relations Act (itself in need of repeal or radical overhaul) to determine whether the workers for whom the claim is being made comprise more than fifty percent of the workforce; whether they are members in good standing in the union, meaning that they have to be members of the union for at least eight weeks. The Board also determines the shape of the bargaining units. What is so difficult about this?

The law talks about members being “in good standing”. The criteria can be summarised thus: the union has to follow sound accounting procedures and practices; the worker must have paid an entrance fee and at least eight weeks contributions or contributions for not less than two years; the funds of the union have not been used to pay the members contributions; the question of membership in good standing must be determined “having regard to good industrial relations practice.” How, in heaven’s name can following these procedures take years?

The NWU’s position is that there should be joint meetings with the union, employer and board to discuss and agree to the composition of bargaining units;

there should be time limits on employers: requiring them to respond to Board enquiries or the matter should proceed on the basis of the Union's application (the Industrial Court operates on this basis);

an interpretation of the community of interests to allow for unions to organise departments or small units within an employer. Trying to organise an employer with many outlets and turnover of workers is virtually impossible (Rituals, Catwalk, KFC, etc. fall into this category);

interim recognition certificates as provided for in Section 37(3) of the Act should be granted;

recognition claims should be determined within three (3) months at the most.

It is in the interest of all trade unions to support the campaign of picketing of the Recognition Board!