collective bargaining

What is collective bargaining?

In the advanced industrial economics, a large number of industrial disputes are resolved through collective bargaining and the legal frame work existing therein also supports and sustains it. But in India, the position is quite different due to a catena of reasons. Though the labourmovement in India has developed much consciousness of their rights in present years, yet the practice of collective bargaining has not taken deep roots owing to absence of supportive legal frame work, multiplicity of trade unions, inter and intra union rivalries, traditional mind-set of employers, overemphasis on mandatory adjudication by the state etc. Despite all this, the importance of collective
bargaining in promoting industrial peace and tranquility is recognised by one and all.

Meaning of collective bargaining

Collective Bargaining is a process of negotiated rule-making between a group of unionized workers and the management of one or more firms. In theory the system is one of voluntary accommodation between two private parties, but in reality much supporting legislation, and its vigorous enforcement, is essential to the health of this system.
The term ‘Collective Bargaining’ was coined by ‘Sydney and Beatrice Webb’. The term consists of two words, Viz, ‘Collective’ means a group action and ‘Bargaining’ means to negotiate. Thus collective bargaining means group action negotiation or collective negotiation. The expression “Collective bargaining” has been defined differently by various authorities on the subject.
According to Boone & Kurtz collective bargaining is “A process of negotiation between management and union representatives for the purpose of arriving at mutually acceptable wages and working conditions for employees”.
Harbison defines collective bargaining as “A process of accommodation between two institutes which have both common and conflicting interests.”
The Manual published by the International Labour office defines collective bargaining as “Negotiations about working conditions and terms of employment between an employer, a group of employers or one ormore employers” organizations on the one hand and one ormore representative workers organizations on the other with a view to reaching agreement.
The Encyclopedia of Britannica defines collective bargaining as a negotiation between an employer or group of employers and a group of work people to reach agreement on working conditions.

Objectives of collective bargaining

The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions has described collective bargaining as “A workers’ Bill of Rights”. According to it, collective bargaining has the following objectives:
i. To establish and promote union recognisition as an authority at the work place.
ii. To raise worker’s standard of living and claim a fair share in Industry’s Profits.
iii. To express in practical terms the workers’ desire to be treated with due respect and to achieve democratic participation in decisions affecting their working conditions.
iv. To establish orderly practice for sharing in these decisions and to settle disputes that may arise in day to day life of the company.
v. To achieve broad general objectives such as defending and promoting the workers’ interests through out the country.

The International Labour Organisation also declares that the object of collective bargaining is to reach agreement on wages and other conditions of employment about which the parties begin with divergent view points by trying to reach a compromise. When a bargain is struck then the  agreed terms are put into effect.
Thus, it is quite evident that the prime object of collective bargaining is to resolve the differences between the parties in respect of terms of employment and conditions of service of the members of the union.