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Statutory union recognition in the UK: a work in progress


  • Tor Brodtkorb is an Assistant Professor of Business Law and Ethics in the School of Business and Management, American University of Sharjah.

Tor Brodtkorb, School of Business and Management, American University of Sharjah, Sharjah 26666, United Arab Emirates; email:


The 1999 scheme for statutory union recognition has been criticised for being too complex, and for leaving important matters unclear, for doing too little for workers and unions and for requiring too much from employers. The similarity to the US system has also been criticised. There were fears that attempts to achieve statutory union recognition would redirect the energy of trade unions in the UK to fruitless limbs, forcing unions and employers into antagonistic litigation. Although some of these criticisms are tenable, legislation seldom satisfies all parties affected by it, and all new legislation is haunted by the spectre of unintended consequences. Nevertheless, the system of statutory union recognition adopted in the UK strikes a reasonable balance between the interests of the rival parties and appears to function efficiently and, for the most part, fairly.