Trade Union Certification

This section sets out the process by which a trade union seeks to become certified, including the role played by the Labour Relations Section.

Trade unions primarily regulate the relationship between workers and employers.

A collective agreement between an employer and the members of a trade union sets out the terms and conditions of employment and forms part of a contract of employment.

The relevant legislation is The Trade Union Act 1965.

Certification Process


Step 1: Submission of Application

A union claiming to have at least 35 per cent of workers in a proposed bargaining unit as members in good standing may make application to the Director of Workforce Development (Director) to be certified in respect of that bargaining unit.

The application must be in writing and served on the employer and include the following:

  • A description of the proposed bargaining unit; and
  • A statement of the facts upon which the union relies as showing that 35 per cent or more of the workers in that unit wish to have the union as their exclusive bargaining agent.

The employer has 14 days to respond to the application stating whether he agrees with the application, in which case the Director will certify the union once satisfied that more than 50 per cent of the workers are in support -- or that he opposes it, in which case the LRO will conduct a ballot. 

Step 2: The Bargaining Unit

On receipt of the application, the Labour Relations Officer (LRO) will assist the union and the employer to determine the bargaining unit.

If the parties are unable to agree on the composition of the bargaining unit, the Minister shall constitute a Tribunal consisting of three members to resolve the bargaining unit dispute. 

Step 3: Grant or Refusal of Certification

Within three months of the application the Director shall determine either

(a) That he certifies the union; or
(b) That he refuses to do so.

A refusal shall be expressed on the grounds that he is not satisfied that more than 50 per cent of the workers in the bargaining unit support the certification of the union.

The order shall be in writing, signed by the Director and dated, and addressed to the union and the employer.