Collective Bargaining

Collective bargaining is a decision-making process through which union and management negotiators determine the terms and conditions of employment for a specific group of unionized workers.

The C98 Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining Convention of 1949 state;

1. Workers shall enjoy adequate protection against acts of anti-union discrimination in respect of their employment.

2. Such protection shall apply more particularly in respect of acts calculated to–

(a) Make the employment of a worker subject to the condition that he shall not join a union or shall relinquish trade union membership;

(b) Cause the dismissal of or otherwise prejudice a worker by reason of union membership or because of participation in union activities outside working hours or, with the consent of the employer, within working hours.

(c) Measures appropriate to national conditions shall be taken, where necessary, to encourage and promote the full development and utilization of machinery for voluntary negotiation between employers or employers’ organizations and workers’ organizations, with a view to the regulation of terms and conditions of employment by means of collective agreements

The essential characteristics of collective bargaining are that employees do not negotiate individually, but do so collectively through representatives. It can only exist and function by way of the following:

If employees identify a commonality of purpose, organise and act in concert.

Where management recognizes the workers’ organization and accepts a change in employment relationship which constrains them from dealing with individual employees.

Collective Bargaining serves three (3) distinct functions: 

1.    A market or economic function – outlines the substantive terms and conditions under which a worker will be employed in an organization.

2.    A governmental function – a body of rules and regulations (constitution) governing determined by management/union negotiations. Implementation (executive authority) rest with management and the grievance procedure serves as a judicial process.

3.    A decision-making function – where workers are allowed, through their unions, to participate in the determination of policies which affect the terms and conditions of their employment.

Functions of Collective Bargaining; 

Collective Bargaining brings into question the sanctity of the individual contract of employment and superimposes upon it a collective agreement.

However, the collective labour agreement does not replace but co-exists with the individual contract