Independent Trade Union
Add a note hereKey points
Add a note hereThe expression independent trade union is the term used to describe a trade union that:
a.  Add a note hereis not under the domination or control of any one employer, or of a group of employers, or of one or more employers' associations; and
b.  Add a note hereis not liable to interference by an employer or any such group or association (arising out of the provision of financial or material support or by any other means whatsoever) tending towards such control;
Add a note hereand, in relation to a trade union, the word independent must be construed accordingly (section 5, Trade Union & Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992).
Add a note hereCertification as independent trade union
§  Add a note hereFurthermore, in order to take advantage of the statutory rights available to trade unionists (officials as well as members) under current industrial relations legislation, a trade union must apply to the Certification Officer (who fulfils the functions of the former Chief Registrar of Friendly Societies) for a certificate that it is 'independent' – which application must be accompanied by the prescribed fee (ibid. section 6).
§  Add a note hereThe Certification Officer will not come to a decision on the application before the end of the period of one month after it has been entered on the record. Before he does make a decision, he will make such enquiries as he thinks fit (taking into account 'any relevant information submitted to him by any person') (ibid. section 6(4)).
§  Add a note hereOnce issued, a certificate of independence will (for all purposes) be conclusive evidence that the recipient trade union is indeed independent. If the Certification Officer refuses to issue (or subsequently withdraws or cancels) a certificate of independence, the trade union in question may appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal to have that decision reversed. However, a trade union has no legal right to challenge a decision by the Certification Officer to issue a certificate of independence to another trade union (such as a staff association), however much it may disagree with that decision. See General & Municipal Workers Union v Certification Officer [1977] ICR 183.
Add a note hereRelevance of certificate of independence
§  Add a note hereA trade union that has been certified as independent by the Certification Officer has access to the statutory rights listed in the following paragraphs.
§  Add a note hereFor example, any term in a collective agreement, that purports to exclude or restrict the right of employees to engage in a strike or other form of industrial action, will be invalid and unenforceable unless each trade union party to that agreement is an independent trade union (ibid. section 180).
§  Add a note hereAn employer is not duty-bound to disclose information to a trade union for the purposes of collective bargaining (ie, information without which a representative of that union would be impeded to a material extent in negotiations with that employer) unless the trade union in question is an independent trade union (ibid. section 181).
§  Add a note hereA trade union representative has no legal right to be consulted in advance concerning proposed redundancies unless the trade union he or she represents is independent (ibid. section 188).
§  Add a note hereAn employee, who is victimised or otherwise discriminated against by his (or her) employer, with a view to preventing or deterring him from joining a trade union, or from taking part in the activities of a trade union, may apply to an employment tribunal for compensation, provided that the union in question is independent (ibid. section 146).
§  Add a note hereAn official of a trade union has no legal right to take paid time off work to carry out his functions, unless the trade union he or she represents is an independent trade union (ibid. section 168).
§  Add a note hereLikewise, the right of a member of a trade union to take time off work (albeit unpaid), in order to participate in the activities of that trade union, does not arise if the trade union in question is not independent (ibid. section 170).
§  Add a note hereThe dismissal of an employee for being or proposing to become a member of a trade union, or for taking part in trade union activities, is inadmissible (that is to say, automatically unfair) only if the trade union in question is an independent trade union (ibid. section 152).