In political life democratic countries have established systems of discussion through representative assemblies for determining the laws by which they shall be governed. In International relationships we have gone only some way along this road. Meanwhile in the world of industry and commerce a process has been evolving in the past century for the negotiation between management and employees on terms and conditions of service and the establishment of peaceful, orderly relations at the place of work through mutual settlement of difference and the cooperation of all those engaged in the enterprise. The process is know as Collective Bargaining.

            The development of collective bargaining has been closely associated with the growth of trade unions in all countries and sometimes with the growth of employers association also. However, the webs did not consider that the collective bargaining depend on or necessary had its origin in the trade unions. In fact they pointed that it could and did take place in British industries through committees set up to settle  specific issue but they added that .it was the trade union alone which can provide the machinery for any but its most casual and limited application. Thus, trade unions could provide machinery for the settlement of any dispute through collective bargaining i.e, through negotiation and mutual settlement.

            It generally began with craft unions of skilled workers organized to protect their skill by preventing employers from under cutting, jobs rates. The craft unions discovered that it was only by strengthening their organisation and forcing the issues at district and national level that genuine standards could be achieved. It was only at the end of nineteenth century that general unions began to develop in Britain and to bargain at all levels of employees.

            A bargain is an agreement, and it takes at least two to make a bargain. But collective bargaining as opposite of individual bargaining which takes place between management and a worker, as an individual, apart from his fellow employees.

            A collective bargain is an agreement made by or an behalf of a group, and collective bargaining is, therefore, the method by which a group agreement is reached between the representatives of employers and the employees. Thus, collective bargaining is method of fixing the terms of employment by means of bargaining between an organized body of employees and an employer or association of employers, usually acting through duly authorized agents. The essential thing is that collective bargaining intends to put the workers on a footing of equality with employers at the occasion of a bargaining in regard to the terms of employment. It should, however, be noted that collective bargaining is a bargain between interested parties not a decree from outside parties.

            Beatrice Webb, famous socialist writer and speaker, is credited with the coinage of the term “Collective Bargaining.” Accordingly, collective bargaining takes place when a number of work-people enter into negotiation as bargaining unit with an agreement on conditions of employment for the work people concerned.

            Collective bargaining has been defined in the Encylopaedia of Social Sciences as “a process of discussion and negotiation between two parties, one or both of whom is group of persons acting in concert. The resulting bargaining is an understanding as to the terms or conditions under which a continuing service is to be performed………More specially, collective bargaining is the procedure by which an employer or employers and a group of employees agree upon the conditions of work.”

            Collective bargaining has also been defined as “the process of employer-union negotiation for the purpose of reaching agreement as to the terms and conditions of employment for a specified period.”

            The national Association of Manufactures has stated that “in its simplest definition, the process of collective bargaining is a method by which management and labour may explore each others problems and view points, and develop a framework of employment relations within which both may carry on their mutual benefit.”

            In a workers education manual issued by the International Labour Office collective bargaining is defined as “negotiations about working conditions and terms of employment between as employer, a group of employers or one or more employers organisations, on one hand, and one or more representative workers organisations on the other, with a view to reaching agreement”, and it is stated that “the terms of an agreement serve as a code defining the rights and obligations of each party in their employment relations one another ; it fixes a large number of detailed conditions of employment ; and during its validity none of the matters it deals with care in normal circumstances give grounds or a dispute concerning or industrial worker.”

            Whatever, definition may be accepted, the essence of collective bargaining, however, lies in the readiness of the parties and the attitude of mutual acceptance. Bargaining includes give and take, the offers and counter-offers which may precede any agreement. Collective bargaining deals with the emotions of people as well as with the logic of their interest. Collective bargaining, thus, becomes a medium to give expression to pent up emotions.”

Nature of Collective Bargaining:

            Collective Bargaining is a continuous process. Even after an agreement is reached a number, of reached a number, of aspects remain incomplete, for new situations always crop up. Thus situations require negotiations, interpretations and get-together. Local, industry-wide and nation-wide labour relations and developments affect the agreements once reached. Since negotiations for a new agreement are under way collective bargaining, maintains a continuity as a process.

            Collective bargaining is an institutional process of representations. The chief participants in collective bargaining do not act for themselves. They are representations of their respective institutions. Thus, collective bargaining as an institution unfolds a device for safeguarding interests of employees and employers and strengthen their organisations. It involves the maintenance of labour unions with certain objectives and group interests to act as a bargaining agent. Employers or their groups or association also develop an organisation, working rules, regulations and a common discipline. Hence, in collective bargaining the employer does not deal directly with his workers. He deals with an institution (may be representatives of the unions) authorized to represent the workers purposes of negotiating and administering the terms and conditions of employment. This representative nature of the organized union-management relationship applies to contract administration as well as to negotiation.

Objects of unions in Collective Bargaining

            The central focus of union activity is collective bargaining, the process of arriving at compromises which settle disputes between an employer and an organisation of his employees, as a group, select representatives to meet and discuss differences with the employer.

            The unions objects in Collective Bargaining may be the following :

  1. To establish and build up union recognition as an authority in the work place.
  2. To raise workers standards of living and win a better share in company’s profits.
  3. 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.