Collective bargaining involves discussions and negotiations between two groups as to the terms and conditions of employment. It is called ‘collective’ because both the employer and the employee act as a group rather than as individuals. It is known as ‘bargaining’ because the method of reaching an agreement involves proposals and counter proposals, offers and counter offers and other negotiations.
Thus collective bargaining:
- is a collective process in which representatives of both the management and employees participate.
- is a continuous process which aims at establishing stable relationships between the parties involved.
- not only involves the bargaining agreement, but also involves the implementation of such an agreement.
- attempts in achieving discipline in the industry is a flexible approach, as the parties involved have to adopt a flexible attitude towards negotiations.
The main characteristics of collective bargaining are:
Collective Process: The representatives of both the management and the employees participate in it. Employer is represented by its delegates and , on the other side, employees are represented by their trade union. Both the groups sit together at the negotiating table and reach at some agreement acceptable to both.
Continuous Process : It is a continuous process. It does not commence with negotiations and end with an agreement. It establishes regular and stable relationship between the parties involved. It involves not only the negotiation of the contract, but also the administration or application of the contract also.It is a process that goes on for 365 days of the year.
Flexible and Mobile: It has fluidity. There is no hard and fast rule for reaching an agreement. There is ample scope for compromise. A spirit of give-and-take works unless final agreement acceptable to both the parties is reached.
Bipartite Process: Collective bargaining is a two party process. Both the parties—employers and employees—collectively take some action. There is no intervention of any third party. It is mutual give – and –take rather than a take-it-or-leave it method of arriving at the settlement of a dispute.
Dynamic: Collective bargaining is a dynamic process because the way agreements are arrived at, the way they are implemented, the mental make-up of parties involved keeps changing. As a result, the concept itself changes, grows and expands overtime. It is scientific, factual and systematic.
Industrial Democracy: It is based on the principle of industrial democracy where the labour union represents the workers in negotiations with the employer or employers. It is a joint formulation of company policy on all matters affecting the labour.
Complementary Process : Collective bargaining is essentially a complementary process, i.e., each party needs something which the other party has, namely, labour can put greater productive effort and management has the capacity to pay for that effort and to organize and guide it for achieving the organizational objectives.
It is an Art: Collective bargaining is an art , an advanced form of human relations.
Discipline in Industry: Collective bargaining is an attempt in achieving and maintaining discipline in the industry.
Industrial Juris prudence: It is an effective step in promoting industrial jurisprudence.