The term collective bargaining was coined in 1891 by Beatrice Webb in her work cooperative move in industries.
The employment term according to her can be determined either unilaterally by the state, unilaterally by employees, unilaterally by workers and by the combined efforts of the employers and their organs, workers and their organs and the state representatives.
C.I.B study text (1982:258) observed that since the 1960s there have been certain developments in the system of collective bargaining. It explains that negotiating arrangements have been introduced in many organizations at local or plant level, i.e. in “domestic” bargaining. For example, a union might negotiate minimum wage rates at a national or company level and then separate negotiations at plant level might be concerned with extra payments for special arrangements, such as a productivity agreement in the plant.
Before the advent of collective bargaining, employees bargain individually, through the interview i.e. individual contract.
Collective bargaining is therefore collective in the sense of multi-party involvement in form of decision making concerning a broad range of issues that effect all parties in the industry.
Contrary to Webb’s definition of collective bargaining as a collective equivalent and alternative to individual bargaining. Alan Flanders (1975:253) says collective bargaining is primarily a political institution because it is a rule making process, which involves power relationship between organizations or organized interest groups.
Dunlop (1958:302) drew attention to the dynamic of collective bargaining processes, he observed that the major activities of collective bargaining involves the determination of priorities within each side in the bargaining process i.e. there are disagreement within each side. Constant discussions, disagreement and compromise and exists from time to time in these processes.
Collective bargaining is an important technique or mechanism in industrial relations meant for resolving goal conflict. It is a joint activity where each side recognizes the right of the other to be present in equal terms. I.e. when you talk of collective bargaining, it is a forum where the employers and employees are to be present. The employer do not tell the employees to leave the negotiating table, they both have fifty-fifty chance.
Employees and employers through their representative come to agreement on pay and condition of employment. The process of negotiating is often referred to as COLLECTIVE BARGAINING.
The development of Collective Bargaining
The C.I.B study text (1988: 355) observed that before the advent of collective bargaining, employers bargaining individually through the interview i.e. individual contract.
It is also observe that since the 1960s there have been certain developments in the system of collective bargaining. Some of these are:
Negotiating arrangement has been introduced in many organizations at level or plant level i.e. in “domestic” bargaining.
Another is that more matters are now brought within the sphere of collective bargaining arrangement because negotiation now might cover not only pay and condition of service or employment but also promotion, training, agreement, job demarcation etc.
Finally, collective bargaining has been extended to more group of employees.
Factors influencing Collective Bargaining
According to the N.U.T study circle materials (1992: 68), some of the factors that influence collective bargaining are itemized below:
(i) The ability to pay
(ii) The mandate of the employers representative
(iii) The relative strength of the union and management
(iv) The sensitive nature of the job and the importance society attaches to it.
(v) Strategies adopted by the union officials
(vi) The quality of work.
(vii) Influence of international financial institution e.g. I.M.F.
(viii) Statistics, which are generally economic in nature, collective, collated and interpreted by the union officials.
However, the C.I.B study text (1988: 355) stated that one final point to note is that there is a complex of factors within an without the organization which affect the bargaining relationship and that although there is an agreement to go through grievances or dispute procedures (in a constitutional way) the majority of conflict in this country are unconstitutional, that is in breach of procedure.
Standoher (1982: 217) defined Negotiation as the act of discussing, conferring in order to come to an agreement, arranged by discussion. He also defined bargaining as making a condition, or give up something in return for something else.
However, Yoder (1982: 471) wrote that the negotiating procedures consist essentially of advancing proposal, discussing them, receiving counter proposal and resolving differences. He asserted that it may involve elements of training, as concessions are granted bye ach of the parties.
Moreover, he stated that negotiation procedures are determined in part by the law, states and administrative board and courts decision regulate the particular issues that bargaining can decide. The law further requires that the parties negotiate their contract in good faith.
Formal negotiation according to yoder (1982: 471) creates the collective bargaining agreements. In formal negotiation, the parties met at predetermined times and places to exchange proposal, agreement and rebuttals. Informal negotiating he said is a continuing process arising out of the day-to-day interoperation, and application of the formal agreement. Representatives of the parties exchange ideas, and arrive at agreement with respect to the meaning of various clauses and appropriate programmed for putting them into effect.
He also observed that informal negotiation can be regarded as part of the total process of contract administration. It is highly important in the relationship established by collective bargaining: the degree to which informal negotiation takes place and how the parties adapt themselves to resulting changes may well be a measure of their maturity and effectiveness as collective bargainers.
Yoder stressed that the formal process of negotiating begins in several ways. If the parties are bargaining for the first time, sessions may follow union recognition by management or certification by federal or state agencies. If the parties have already negotiated one or more agreements, the timing of the negotiation process may be prescribe by existing agreement. It may call for formal, advance announcement by either party if changes are to be sought in a new agreement. The process may begin by an exchange of letters between the parties. Or one party may announce to become news. Negotiation continues until differences are resolved or until the parties find that they cannot arrive at a satisfactory agreement without assistance. Conciliation and mediation services may help in settling their differences. Certain unsettled issues may be submitted to arbitration. If agreement is not achieved in negotiation, employees may strike, in which case, settlement of the strike involves further negotiation.
They may, on the other hand, continue working without agreement while negotiation goes on.
Preparation for Negotiation
Yoder (1982: 472 observed that although the extent of advance preparation by both managers and unions differ, many of them spend month in getting ready for negotiation, unions study the experience with existing agreements in the investigate the financial condition of employers. Union members may be polled to determine their preferences.
He noted that many management undertake similar preparation for the negotiating process. They seek information on the nature of settlement made by other employers in the same or related industries. They study the operation of the present agreement to discover section in which they desire changes.
Moreover, he asserted that they forecast financial prospect and secure information on the labour markets in which they must shop. They try to anticipate union demands and have at the argument they may use in opposition to demands they regard as unreasonable.
Experience is reviewed to provide a basis for further negotiation.
Both management and union need fact as well as philosophy and policy to guide them in actual negotiation. Representatives know the basic policies of the organization they represent. They should be well informed on current practice in the industry and locality and on recent changes in practice. Both parties may require extensive statistical and other information with respect to their experience and that of other firms and unions.
Yoder finally noted an important objective in preparing for negotiations is determining the cost of changes in contract provision.
Strategy and tactics
According to Yoder (1982: 471), strategy refers to the overall plan of how to proceed at the bargaining table to achieve objectives. Examples would be to take a “hard time” or to be con-operative, tactics include the individual method that a party utilizes to implement its strategy. Example would be to table round, bluff or trade-off issues. The behavioral approach of Walton and Mckersie, outlined, lends itself to analysis of strategy and tactics. Strategically, most managers and union leaders view negotiation as a contest in which the “smart player” wins.
This comports with the fact that since most negotiations is distributive in nature, the parties are competing in an “win-loss” situation on individually bargaining items. Thus, negotiation is seen primarily as an adversary relationship.
Yoder (1982: 495) stressed that in applying tactics to distributive issues, both sides typically adopt extreme positions. The unions present a “laundry list” asking for the “sun, moon and stars”, and management typically, offers very little at the onset. He further asserted that both parties recognize the need to bluff.
They may make dire threat with no serious though of carrying them out. Negotiators sometimes fell a need to impress their constituencies that they have fought hard and avoided a catastrophe.
Bluffing may help to create this impression.
However, Standoher noted that one effective position for management may be to make demand of its own in bargaining. Underlying this is the adage that “the best defense is a good offence”. In recent years, management has sought to ease restrictive work rules, and ahs even proposed “take away” lowering or eliminating benefits that existed under the previous contract.
Strike and trade disputes
The C.I.B study text (1988: 380) defined strike as a temporary stoppage of wok in the pursuance of a grievance or demand. It explains that strikes are the most common form of industrial conflict and there are a wide variety of issues that can result into strike and mis-understanding in an organization.
The trade dispute Act, section 37 defines a trade dispute as “any dispute between employers and workers or between workers and workers which is connected with the employment or non-employment or the term of employment and physical conditions of work of any person.