A Trade Union does not have an automatic right of access to an employer’s premises as there are certain criteria which must first be fulfilled in terms of the Labour Relations Act.
Chapter 3 Part A of the said Act sets out the requirements a Trade Union must fulfill before it may demand certain statutory organisational rights.
Firstly a Trade Union must be registered with the Registrar and also be sufficiently represented in the particular workplace before it becomes entitled to organisational rights.
Secondly, the Trade Union is obliged to furnish the Employer with a notice requesting a meeting to discuss its entitlement to the statutory organisational rights, should it believe it has sufficient membership.
The notice must be accompanied by:
- Proof of Registration;
- The organisational rights which the Union wishes to exercise;
- Proof of its members in the workplace.
Should the Union be sufficiently represented, and such representativeness acknowledged by the Employer, it will become entitled to:
- access the workplace (Section 12)
- deductions of member’s fees from the Employer (Section 13) and / or;
- request leave of its members in order to attend union activities (Section 15).
A Trade Union is only entitled to appoint Trade Union representatives (Section 14) and demand access to Company information (Section 16) once the majority of the employees are members.
Section 19 however creates an automatic right to minority unions to exercise their rights in terms of Section 12 and Section 13 above.
These rights are however subject to the minority union being party to a bargaining or statutory council.
Where a Union has proven its representativeness in the workplace, an Employer may not prevent it from exercising its rights, however it may regulate the process by implementing a proper union recognition agreement.
Ian Mc Laren