What are your rights to join, and organise, a union? September 8, 2009Posted by tomcwu in Rights.
we will never stand in the way of any employee becoming a member of the CWU or any other unions and any such membership will never affect the way in which an employee is treated at the CPW.
– company briefing, 24th July 2009
So what are your legal rights to join the CWU and become active – by being a rep, for example? We asked an officer in the CWU’s legal department to give us the legal low down…
Under the Employment Rights Act 1996, there are various situations in which employees (and, in one or two instances, workers who are not ’employees’) have the legal right not to be subjected to any detriment by their employer for exercising (or presuming to exercise) their statutory rights:
Under the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, section 146 workers have the right not to be subjected to any detriment as individuals by any act, or any deliberate failure to act, by their employer if the act or failure takes place for the purpose of:
- preventing or deterring them from being or seeking to become members of an independent trade union, or penalising them for doing so;
- preventing or deterring them from taking part in the activities of an independent trade union at an appropriate time, or penalising them for doing so;
- preventing or deterring them from making use of trade union services at an appropriate time, or penalising them for doing so; or
- compelling them to be or become members of any trade union or of a particular trade union or of one of a number of particular trade unions.
The expression ‘an appropriate time’ in this context means a time outside a worker’s working hours or a time within his or her working hours at which, in accordance with arrangements agreed with, or consent given by, the employer, it is permissible for him or her to take part in the trade union activities or make use of trade union services.
‘Trade union services’ means services made available to a worker by an independent union because of his or her membership of that union, and making use of such services includes a worker’s consenting to a matter being raised on his or her behalf by the union.
Workers who have been subjected to a detriment in these circumstances may complain to an employment tribunal. If the tribunal finds a complaint to be well founded it will make a declaration to that effect and may award appropriate compensation (Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, section 149).
So, even ‘deterring’ someone from becoming active with the union during their own time – for instance, during lunch breaks – would make the company liable for a compensation claim at employment tribunal…