Over the years, there have been various discussions concerning the nature and importance of collective bargaining. Specifically, collective bargaining can be defined as a practice whereby industrial disputes between employer and employee can be settled through negotiation and discussion. The name collective has been derived from the fact that both conflicting parties will agree eventually to follow a decision which they arrive at after the process of discussion and negotiation. It is evident that collective bargaining is concerned with the relationships between employers or their representatives and unions representing employees. Indeed, collective bargaining involves the process of negotiation administration, employees’ union organization and the interpretation of collective agreements on hours of work, wages and other conditions argued by employees in concerted economic procedures if dispute settlement. According to (Brändle 2017), collective bargaining can be defined as a process in which labour organization’s representatives and the business organization representatives meet and try to negotiate an agreement or contract, which indicates the nature of the employee-employer union relationship. Through collective bargaining, the terms of employment can be fixed based on the discussions made. This study describes collective bargaining based on its importance in employment relationships and factors contributing to the decline of collective bargaining arrangements in the United Kingdom.
Description of Collective Bargaining
There are various forms of collective bargaining available in the United Kingdom. First, collective bargaining can occur between a single union representing employees and a single employer. This form of collective bargaining is known as single plant bargaining because it involves single parties in discussions or negotiations (Doellgast & Benassi 2020). The other form of collective bargaining is multiple plants bargaining, whereby negotiation is done between a single firm with various workers and plants. Under this form of collective bargaining, employees bargain with a single employer but through multiple union organizations. This means that employees are registered in different organisations’ plants in different unions. Therefore, multiple unions of different employees will be negotiating with a common employer. Lastly, multiple employers bargaining is another form of collective bargaining whereby all unions which belong to the same industry bargain with the federation of the industry with their federation. This form of collective bargaining is common at the regional and local levels in the United Kingdom. Therefore, industry-wide collective bargaining benefits both employees’ and employers’ social and economic interests.
There are various features of collective bargaining used in the United Kingdom. First, collective bargaining is not individual action but a group activity. This means that both parties involved in the negotiation are represented by specific groups (Visser 2016). For instance, employees are represented by their trade union, while employers are represented by their delegates. The other feature of collective bargaining is continuous and could not end with a single agreement. This is because collective bargaining provides a mechanism for an organized and continuing relationship between trade unions and management. This means can be a process which may go beyond one year. In addition, collective bargaining must contain two parties: employees and the employer. This means that in collective bargaining, there are no third-party interventions. The other feature is that collective bargaining is mobile and flexible. This indicates that there is no fast or hard rule guiding how an agreement will be reached at. Indeed, there is always a scope of compromise among the two parties to achieve the agreement. Lastly, collective bargaining is dynamic since it involves using new concepts (Gooberman et al., 2019). It is evident that collective bargaining in the United Kingdom is changing, expanding and growing from a sentimental, turbulent and emotional to a systematic, factual and scientific process. Therefore, features of collective bargaining are essential in understanding its importance in the employment relationship.
Importance of Collective Bargaining in Employment Relationships
There are various ways in which collective bargaining is important to employment relationships. First, collective bargaining improves employment relationships by giving workers a larger voice. According to (Doellgast & Benassi 2020), it may be difficult for individual workers to negotiate wage increases with their employers. However, collective bargaining involves various union workers who have a “leave it” or “take it” offer. If an employee fails to make an offer, an employer will employ someone else who accepts the offer. Through collective bargaining, workers can bond together, forming a larger group whose voice is louder. It is evident that employers can easily hear a louder voice, unlike an individual voice that is less loud within the organization and industry-wide. There will be mutual benefits that every employee will gain from the larger voice. Therefore, collective bargaining improves employment relationships by allowing employees’ larger voices to be heard by their employers.
Additionally, collective bargaining promotes employment relationships by improving employees’ quality of life. According to (Hayter et al., 2011), collective bargaining, in most cases, is an increased level of workers’ pay. It is evident that workers are paid well and can afford basic security and social needs. It is evident from the hierarchy of needs that human beings must satisfy one level of needs before moving to the other. When workers can satisfy the first three levels of needs, their quality of life is likely to improve. It is evident that an organization can motivate its employees by providing good wages, which help satisfy their basic needs. This is because the quality of life entails good physical and mental health, improved social life and general well-being of workers. However, if the safety and working conditions are not improved, there are high chances they will be improved in future because of the collective bargaining. When the worker’s quality of life is improved, there are likely to be motivated to work towards achieving the organizational objectives. Therefore, employers will enjoy improved organizational performance and profitability following employees’ motivations that result from collective bargaining.
Furthermore, collective bargaining promotes employment relationships between employees and employers by encouraging cooperation. According to (Ilesanmi 2017), most of the jurisdictions in collective bargaining require that discussions between the two parties be done in good faith. This means during negotiations in collective bargaining, both employers’ representatives and employee union representatives are compelled to compromise their demands. Compromising in collective bargaining allows both parties to reach a conclusive decision. This means that employers and employees, through their labour unions, will be required to cooperate in giving a lasting solution to the existing problem. Through this cooperation, the employers and employers will maintain the remaining period of employment. It is evident that employees cooperate with their employers because they expect to benefit from good pay. On the other hand, employers maintain good cooperation with the employees because they expect consistent productivity and increased revenues to have a positive going concern. Therefore, this mutual benefit is only achieved through continuous cooperation between employers and employers within the industry.
In addition, collective bargaining promotes employment relationships by creating binding results. According to (Marginson & Galetto 2016), in collective bargaining, both employee unions and employers’ representatives are bound to a collective negotiating agreement. It is evident that an agreement made in collective bargaining is a legal standard that either party can use as a legal defence. This means that the agreement reached after negotiation between labour unions representing employees and employers’ delegates are protected by law. This indicates that if one party fails to perform their duties and responsibilities as per the stipulations made in the agreement, they will be held liable for the damages caused to the injured party. For instance, if the employers in an industry fail to pay wages to employees as per the stipulations made during collective bargaining, then labour unions who represent employees may sue the employing companies for breach of contract. Similarly, if employees of the company fail to undertake their duties and responsibilities as per the agreements made during collective bargaining, employing companies have the right to sue such employees through their specific labour unions (Gooberman et al., 2019). This indicates that collective bargaining builds respect and accountability between employers and employees. Since every side wants to avoid legal issues that may lead to civil liability, they decide to comply with all the collective agreements. Therefore, collective bargaining promotes an employment relationship by giving extra security for both employers and employees to defend their positions.
Moreover, collective bargaining develops interpersonal relationships among individual members of both sides. According to (Moore et al., 2019), labour unions bring together members from different parts of the society. This means that the bargaining team will comprise people from different backgrounds. This indicates that collective bargaining is essential in the management of diverse employees. It is evident that during collective bargaining that, both sides are required to create lines of communication among different members of the unions. It is evident that labour unions must involve all members in decision making. In most cases, open lines of communication within the organizations promote transparency and interpersonal relationship between employers and their employees. Improved interpersonal relationships within the organization increase the chances of effective implementation of strategies within the organization. This is because organizational leaders who may be employers may consider employee involvement in decision making (Valizade et al., 2021). It is evident that involved employees are more motivated than employees who are not involved in decision making. This means that there will be less or no resistance against formulated strategies because every employee will have relevant knowledge about the strategies formulated by their organizational leaders. Indeed, collective bargaining promotes interpersonal relationships between employees and employers, successfully implementing organisational strategies.
In addition, collective bargaining promotes employment relationships by promoting changes in the deal. According to (Ilesanmi 2017), the contract can be changed when the deal is not made correctly in collective bargaining. In most cases, the agreements made through collective bargaining between employers and union representatives have end dates. This means that the contract is subject to changes in future, provided all the rules and policies guiding the agreement are followed. In some situations, the contract terms can be changed before the end period, provided the two parties agree. However, if one party initiates changes with a conflict of interest, changes will be considered bull and void. There must be strict compliance with the provisions of the previous agreement when new changes are to be made. This indicates that the employment relationship can be improved through mutual agreement to change unfair terms. Therefore, collective bargaining is essential in promoting employment relationships between employers and employers with their specific trade unions.
Factors Responsible for the Collective Bargaining Arrangements in the United Kingdom
Various factors have contributed to the decline of collective bargaining arrangements in the United Kingdom. First, public policy is the primary factor contributing to the decline in collective bargaining in the United Kingdom (Gooberman et al., 2019). Specifically, public policy was against collective bargaining because there were increased hostile movements by the unions. It is evident that most unions in the United Kingdom have arranged hostile movements against employers for dues payments from the employers. During these hostile movements, the company and workers were incurring different costs. Employers were losing their productivity because most of the time was used to discuss different issues affecting employees. In some cases, some employees may not get their pay for the period of strikes. Reduced production from the company contributes to less income and profits. When companies earn less income due to reduced productivity, the general Gross Domestic Income of the country is reduced hence deteriorating the national economy. Therefore, to avoid a reduced GDP of the country, the government of the United Kingdom initiated a public policy which discourages collective bargaining.
Additionally, collective bargaining in the United Kingdom has declined because the government has increased price fixation. According to (Valizade et al., 2021), the government of the United Kingdom has been involved in labour price fixation. This has increased because the government wanted to avoid increased workers’ strikes in the labour market. However, where the government has fixed the prices, the employing company may not be able to meet all the demands of the employees. This is because some prices fixed by the government may increase the cost of producing the products leaving a minimum margin of profits for the company. This is because the increased cost of production may not be transferred to the consumers since the prices of supplies are also fixed by the government. It is evident that 75% of the decline in collective bargaining in the United Kingdom can be associated with the government’s fixation on prices. This is because the increased cost of production with a reduced profit margin leads to the closure of the business organizations. Closure of business entities is not in the interest of both employers and employees. Therefore, the government should put measures that ensure a reentry of collective bargaining in the labour market to increase job satisfaction.
Furthermore, the multiplicity of the trade unions in the United Kingdom is another factor which has contributed to the decline of collective bargaining arrangements. According to (Moore et al., 2019), there have been increased situations of multiple trade unions in the labour market of the United Kingdom. Different labour unions represent different employees within the same industry. Research indicates that there is one labour union in five employees, which indicates numerous labour unions in large organisations. Increased multiple union situations resulted in inter-union rivalries hence confusion during discussions. Indeed, employers are likely to be confused when many labour unions are used to represent few employees. To avoid confusion between employees and employers in the United Kingdom, collective bargaining arrangements were avoided by different workers. Therefore, the multiplicity of trade unions resulted in to decline in collective bargaining arrangements in the United Kingdom.
Moreover, increased outside leadership is another factor which has contributed to the decline in collective bargaining arrangements. According to (Marginson & Galetto 2016), most of the labour unions in the United Kingdom are led by outsiders who, in most cases, are not employees of the concerned organizations. It is evident that the interest of the outside leaders has not been the same as those of the employees. Regardless of the leadership skills and experience these outside leaders may have, they cannot have good communication and understanding when speaking on behalf of the employees. This indicates that most of the employees in the United Kingdom lost confidence in the union leaders. In modern society, labour unions may not be able to bargain successfully with strong employers because union leaders have less knowledge about employees’ situations. As a result, most the employees in the United Kingdom have preferred individual bargaining with their employers instead of collective bargaining arrangements. Therefore, increased outside leaders of unions contributed greatly to the decline of collective bargaining arrangements.
In conclusion, collective bargaining is essential in promoting employment relationships in the United Kingdom. In collective bargaining, both the representatives of employee unions and employers representatives are bound to a collective negotiating agreement. It is evident that an agreement made in collective bargaining is a legal standard that either party can use as a legal defence. Labour unions bring together members from different parts of society. This means that the bargaining team will comprise people from different backgrounds. This indicates that collective bargaining is essential in the management of diverse employees. However, collective bargaining has declined in the United Kingdom because of public policy, increased multiple unions, and increased outside union leaders. Therefore, the United Kingdom government should develop policies that guide labour unions to promote employment relationships.
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