Collective bargaining is a process of negotiations between employers and group of employees aimed at reaching agreements in respect of the terms and conditions of employment of employees, such as wages, hours of work, working conditions and grievance procedures and about the rights and responsibilities of trade unions. The interests of the employees are commonly represented by representatives of trade union to which the employees belong. The collective agreements reached by these negotiations usually set out wage scales, working hours, training, health and safety, overtime, grievance mechanisms and rights to participate in workplace or company affairs.
Collective bargaining is an opportunity for an individual, as a company employee to actively play a role in making positive changes to protect and improve the wages, benefits and working conditions and one of their most important rights as an employee.
Features of Collective Bargaining:
- It is not equivalent to collective agreements because collective bargaining refers to the process or means and collective agreements to the possible result, of bargaining. Collective bargaining may not always lead to a collective agreement.
- It is a method used by trade unions to improve the terms and conditions of employment of their members.
- It seeks to restore the unequal bargaining position between employer and employee.
- Where it leads to an agreement, it modifies, rather than replaces, the individual contract of employment because it does not create the employer-employee relationship.
- The process of bipartite, but in some developing countries the states plays a role in the form of a conciliator where disagreements occur or where collective bargaining impinges on government policy.s
Advantages of Collective Bargaining:
- Collective bargaining has the advantage of settlement through dialogue and consensus rather than through conflict and confrontation.
- It is a form of participation also because it involves a sharing of rulemaking power between employers and unions in areas which in earlier times were regarded as a management prerogative.
- Collective bargaining agreements sometimes renounce or limit the settlement of disputes through trade union actions.
- Collective bargaining helps in establishing a partnership between organised employer institutions and organised labour institution.
- In societies, where there is a multiplicity of unions and shifting union loyalties, collective bargaining and consequent agreements tend to stabilise union membership.
- Collective bargaining usually has the effect of improving industrial relations.