I was gently stirred out of my deliberate, self-imposed intellectual and emotional isolation from the pervasive and increasingly despairing and cynical verbal torrent—as can be seen in the plethora of letters, articles and columns in the newspapers—about a perceived universal decline, breakdown and paralysis of public institutions, and consequent approaching—some say already existing—crisis in this country, when I recently took delivery of a letter from the Registration Recognition and Certification Board (RRCB)—the only institution in this country that has the absolute power to determine whether workers, as a group in an enterprise, may have a trade union of their choice to represent them—be their “bargaining agent”.

The letter that I received from the RRCB was a bit of a shock because, initially, for the life of me I could not remember what it was all about—and then, with the help of my computer and my records, it all came back. This is the story.

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Seven years and five months ago, in April 2012, a long-established trade union submitted to the RRCB an application to be certified as the recognised majority union and therefore the bargaining agent for all “hourly rated, fortnightly paid” workers at a company. Approximately three months later, in July 2012, the RRCB communicated with the company advising it of the union’s application, providing notices that the company was required to post on its noticeboards and instructing the company to submit to the board a completed Form B within seven days. (Form B is the company’s statement — in response to the union’s application.)