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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Resolving problems with trade unions

If you are thinking of making a complaint about a trade union then you may be able to make a complaint to the Certification Officer. Find out about the Certification Officer and their role in handling complaints.

The Certification Officer

The Certification Officer is an independent person who has various statutory (legal) roles in relation to trade unions. Their role includes looking into and resolving problems with trade unions.

Complaints to the Certification Officer

You can make a complaint to the Certification Officer if your trade union has:

  • senior officers and/or members of its executive who have been convicted within the last five or ten years of certain trade union law offences
  • not kept an accurate register of members
  • held an election of its senior officers and/or members of its executive that does not meet the statutory requirements
  • breached rules approved by the Certification Officer governing the holding of a political fund ballot or the administration of its political fund
  • held a political fund ballot without rules approved by the Certification Officer
  • not met a request from a member for access to its accounting records
  • failed to ensure that a ballot on a proposed merger has been conducted in accordance with statutory requirements or certain trade union rules
  • spent money on ‘political objects’ without having a political fund or without approved political fund rules

You can also make a complaint to the Certification Officer if a trade union has broken, or threatened to break, its rules about:

  • the appointment, election, or removal of a person to or from any office
  • disciplinary proceedings by the trade union, including expelling you from the trade union
  • balloting members on anything other than industrial action
  • the constitution (structure) or proceedings of any executive committee or of any decision-making meetings

If you have concerns about the way your trade union is handling financial affairs, let the Certification Officer know as soon as possible. However, this is dealt with under other powers.

Who can make a complaint?

You can make a complaint to the Certification Officer if you were a member of the trade union when the event you are complaining about happened.

If you were not a member, you might still have the right to complain to the Certification Officer. For example, if you were a candidate in a national election and the complaint is about that election.

In some cases, the Certification Officer may not accept your complaint unless you have tried to use the trade union's internal complaints procedure.

Time limits for complaints

You should make any complaints within a specific time limit. The time limit may depend on whether you have used the trade union’s internal complaints procedure first. You can contact the Certification Officer for information on the time limits for your complaint.

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