Guidance

Complain about unfair practice during a recognition or derecognition ballot

How employers and unions can complain to the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) about an unfair practice in the union recognition or derecognition process.

Once the CAC has told the employer and union the arrangements for a ballot, neither party should use an unfair practice.

An unfair practice is one or more of the actions listed in the Definition of an unfair practice (PDF, 6.94KB, 1 page) .

The Code of Practice (PDF, 229KB, 33 pages) explains how employers and unions can avoid difficulties during a ballot.

Make a complaint

An employer or union which wishes to make a complaint should fill in the Unfair practice application form (MS Word Document, 107KB) and send it to the case manager.

A complaint must be made on or before the first working day after the date of the ballot. If votes are cast over several days, for example in a postal ballot, it is the last of those days. If a complaint is made after these deadlines, the CAC cannot consider it.

The CAC will send a copy of the complaint to the other party and invite them to respond to it.

What happens next

The CAC has 10 days to decide if the complaint should be upheld. It has to decide 3 issues:

  • whether the employer or union has used an unfair practice
  • if it was done to influence the result of the ballot
  • if it changed, or was likely to change, the way a worker intended to vote

The case manager will tell you whether the panel will decide the matter on paper or at a hearing. The panel can postpone the ballot if necessary.

CAC’s decision

There will be a formal decision as to whether the complaint is upheld. If it is, the CAC can do one, or both, of the following:

  • issue a remedial order telling the party what steps it must take, and by when, to mitigate the effect of the unfair practice
  • order a new ballot

If the CAC issues a remedial order and the party concerned doesn’t comply with it, or commits a second unfair practice, the CAC can:

  • if the employer is at fault, declare the union recognised
  • if the union is at fault, declare that the union isn’t recognised

The CAC can also do this if the unfair practice included:

  • the use of violence
  • the dismissal of a union official

Order a new ballot

If the CAC orders a new ballot, or declares a union to be recognised or not recognised, it will cancel the result of the first ballot. The case manager will tell you the arrangements for any new ballot and the panel will decide what proportion of the cost each party will have to meet.

Published 23 October 2014