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According to Edwin B. Fllipo, collective bargaining is a process in which representatives of two groups meet and attempt to negotiate an agreement that specifies the nature of future relationships between the two.
According to Flippo, subjects where bargaining is required by law the employer is no longer free to make and enforce unilateral decision. And on matters not so legally mandated, the employer is influenced by such risks as strikes, slowdown and with holding of co-operative efforts.
Processes of Collective Bargaining
The Pre-Negotiation Phase
This phase has to with the assemblage of data and facts and figures on wages, hours, pensions, and vacations for use in the negotiation of the next contract. Negotiation is defined as a process of solving conflict between two or more parties whereby the belligerent parties modify their demand to allow for a mutually acceptable compromise.
In industrial relations, negotiation takes place between the representatives of the means of production which is the management and the representative of the employees, the union member.
The negotiation process involves three basic elements. There are:
(a) Social relations between those individual and groups, which are a party to collective bargaining.
(b) The representatives and communication functions.
(c) The power relations between the parties to the negotiation.
In every negotiation, there is a negotiation continuum, which shows the range of bargaining of both union and management and the bargaining parameter. Normally, negotiations aim at a compromise within the bargaining parameter.
On the side of the employer, it is usual to have a team or a committee. This broadens the base of participation. It is also usual to have a legal representative. Normally the Chief Executive of the organization is usually not included in the negotiation team.
On the side of the union, they usually include high officers of the union, some employees of the organization and “representat ive of the international union”. Most of the union bargainers are full time specialists in the art of bargaining and negotiation with various management.
Strategy of Bargaining
Because of the considerable importance of the labour agreement, it is essential for management to plan its strategy and tactics carefully in preparation for the bargaining sessions. Strategy involves mapping out the plan and deciding on the policy which will guide the organization in the bargaining process. The union on its own part also does same, which is mapping out plans and deciding on guiding principles.
Before the management enters the conference room for bargaining its negotiators must agree on the maximum concessions that can be granted to the anticipated demands of the union. Often the union files its demands in a advance of the meeting. The company must know the points, above which it will not, prefer to risk a strike instead.
In collective bargaining, organizational strategic plan could include the following:
– Avoidance of mutual agreement clauses that would prevent management action. Management should retain the right to manage the firm, subject to challenges by the union under contract.
– Keep one’s eyes on the entire package. A work procedure concession may eventually cost more than a substantive pay.
– Keep the company personnel informed of the progress of bargaining sessions. Supervisors must be involved and union members are also employees.
– Develop agreements where the union leaders can always maintain that they “won”. Union leaders have to win for red uction on their record and management can move frequently afford the appearance of having “lost”.
Determine the point at which the organization is willing for the union to go on strike. Management must adopt a basic attitude of not being afraid of strike.
Union Bargaining Pressures
Labour unions have strategies and tactics which they employ in extracting greater concessions from management.
These are strikes, picketing, boycotts etc:
This is a concerted and temporary withholding of employee services from the employer for the purpose of exacting greater concessions in the employment relationship than the employer is willing to grant at the bargaining table.
There are various types of strikes
– Recognition Strike: This is meant to enforce the employer torecognize and deal with the union.
– Economic Strike: this is based on the demand for increasedwages.
– Wild Cat Strike: this is the quick, sudden and unauthorizedtypes of work stoppages. Such strikes are not approved by union leadership and are contrary to labour agreement. This is a form of fractional bargaining.
Sit-Down Strike: This is when the employees strike but remainsin their jobs in the organization such strikes are illegal strike. They constitute an invasion of private property.
Picketing is the patrolling of strikers in front of the entrance of an organization’s premises inorder to ensure total work stoppage.
This is a form of work stoppage that may involve many organizations in the same line of business to force the concerned organization to concede to the demands of the union.
An example is influence of Company B, and C, to refuse to deal with Company A.
Source National Open University of Nigeria
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