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Trade Union Recognition (Method of Collective Bargaining) Order (Northern Ireland) 2001

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Bargaining Procedure

15.  The JNB shall conduct these negotiations for each bargaining round according to the following staged procedure.

  • Step 1 – The union shall set out in writing, and send to the employer, its proposals (the “claim”) to vary the pay, hours and holidays, specifying which aspects it wants to change. In its claim, the union shall set out the reasons for its proposals, together with the main supporting evidence at its disposal at the time. In cases where there is no established annual date when the employer reviews the pay, hours and holidays of all the workers in the bargaining unit, the union shall put forward its first claim within three months of this method being imposed (and by the same date in subsequent rounds). Where such a common review date is established, the union shall submit its first claim at least a month in advance of that date (and by the same date in subsequent rounds). In either case, the employer and the union may agree a different date by which the claim should be submitted each year. If the union fails to submit its claim by this date, the procedure shall be ended for the bargaining round in question. Exceptionally, the union may submit a late claim without this penalty if its work on the claim was delayed while the Industrial Court considered a relevant complaint by the union of failure by the employer to disclose information for collective bargaining purposes.

  • Step 2 – Within ten working days of the Employer Side’s receipt of the union’s letter, a quorate meeting of the JNB shall be held to discuss the claim. At this meeting, the Union Side shall explain its claim and answer any reasonable questions arising to the best of its ability.

  • Step 3 –

    (a)

    Within fifteen working days immediately following the Step 2 meeting, the employer shall either accept the claim in full or write to the union responding to its claim. If the Employer Side requests it, a quorate meeting of the JNB shall be held within the fifteen day period to enable the employer to present this written response directly to the Union Side. In explaining the basis of his response, the employer shall set out in this written communication all relevant information in his possession. In particular, the written communication shall contain information costing each element of the claim and describing the business consequences, particularly any staffing implications, unless the employer is not required to disclose such information for any of the reasons specified in Article 40(1) of the Industrial Relations (Northern Ireland) Order 1992(1)(“the 1992 Order”). The basis of these estimated costs and effects, including the main assumptions that the employer has used, shall be set out in the communication. In determining what information is disclosed as relevant, the employer shall be under no greater obligation than he is under the general duty imposed on him by Articles 39 and 40 of the 1992 Order to disclose information for the purposes of collective bargaining.

    (b)

    If the response contains any counter-proposals, the written communication shall set out the reasons for making them, together with the supporting evidence. The letter shall provide information estimating the costs and staffing consequences of implementing each element of the counter proposals, unless the employer is not required to disclose such information for any of the reasons specified in Article 40(1) of the 1992 Order.

  • Step 4 – Within ten working days of the Union Side’s receipt of the employer’s written communication, a further quorate meeting of the JNB shall be held to discuss the employer’s response. At this meeting, the Employer Side shall explain its response and answer any reasonable questions arising to the best of its ability.

  • Step 5 – If no agreement is reached at the Step 4 meeting (or the last of such meetings if more than one is held at that stage in the procedure), another quorate meeting of the JNB shall be held within ten working days. The union may bring to this meeting a maximum of two other individuals employed by the union who are officials within the meaning of Article 2 of the 1995 Order. The employer may bring to the meeting a maximum of two other individuals who are employees or officials of an employer’s organisation to which the employer belongs. These additional persons shall be allowed to contribute to the meeting, as if they were JNB members.

  • Step 6 – If no agreement is reached at the Step 5 meeting (or the last of such meetings if more than one meeting is held at that stage in the procedure), within five working days the employer and the union shall consider, separately or jointly, consulting the Labour Relations Agency (“the LRA”) about the prospect of the LRA helping them to find a settlement of their differences through conciliation. In the event that both parties agree to invite the LRA to conciliate, both parties shall give such assistance to the LRA as is necessary to enable it to carry out the conciliation efficiently and effectively.

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