Statutory collective bargaining: a duty of fair representation?

24 Jul 2013

Introduction:An issue that has received little attention in our law is the nature of a union's duty vis-à-vis its membership in the course of collective bargaining and the consequences of breach of such duty. This is, in the first instance, a practical question of law and industrial relations which may determine the enforceability of disputed collective agreements. Over and above this it is a question of democracy. Trade unions are widely regarded as a means whereby individually powerless employees can gain a degree of control over their working lives and moreover, in today's political climate, over socio-economic policy and labour legislation. But such control can only be meaningful if the union itself is subject to democratic control by its members.