“Unity!–and want sins are committed in the name of unity!” When militancy was the dominating factor in trade union movement, many sins were committed by appealing to worker’s unity. Most of the trade unions often profess that welfare of the workers is their sole concern. In reality, they are affiliated to one party or the other, and subscribe to political philosophies, and frame the action programs, like strikes etc. to further the cause accordingly. Collective bargaining is the weapon at the hands of the working class.
Used properly, it is a magnificent tool to increase the output of the workers as well as to improve their living conditions. Workers can build an organization; and if it breaks, to a great extent, the militant attitude of the workers must share the responsibility. Workers need to be basically sound and industrious and also basic conditions need to be created for the workers to become basically sound and industrious! This is the intrinsic strength behind the principle of true collective bargaining.
Collective Bargaining – “All negotiations between employers (or employers’ organizations) and workers organizations, for the purposes of determining terms and conditions of employment and/or regulating relations between them”. (International Labor Organization)
History of Collective Bargaining -Gone is the era, when the trade unions take the stand that the management is the permanent enemy, and the trade unions need to be at war with it always. Globalization of production and the internet revolution have strongly impacted the concepts governing trade union movement and presently decentralization of collective bargaining dominates the scene. Damage to the national economy can be averted with proper functioning of the machinery for collective bargaining. The current trend is decentralization towards collective bargaining, which is good for an individual establishment, and such an arrangement has an advantage of the enterprise level bargaining, tailored to the economic conditions of the organization, like its capacity to pay, market conditions and objectives.
The effects of globalization and international competition have hastened the trend towards greater decentralization of collective bargaining from sector to company level.
The growth of collective bargaining is due to gradual erosion in the power of unions since 1980s and 1990s.The preference of management is for decentralization of bargaining whereas unions prefer centralization. Collective bargaining is conducive to industrial democracy and for building up peaceful social conditions. The best bet for decentralization of collective bargaining is– the agreements guarantee industrial peace for the duration of agreements and that will have salutary effect on productivity.
Impact of globalization on trade union movement
At the highest level, the effects of the globalization have benefited the humankind. But it has created a scare amongst the competing production units and the trade unions on the issue of employment. More advanced technology means less requirement of man-power. The issue of collective bargaining on employment has occupied the center-stage.
Of late, in many European countries, collective bargaining has explicitly attended to the issue of creating and preserving employment. Many national, regional, sector-wise tripartite or bipartite pacts to company-specific agreements between trade unions and employers are forthcoming and doing well.
Fresh water is gushing in the area of decentralization of collective bargaining on account of the compulsion of the circumstances. A new responsibility rests on the leadership of trade unions. If they try to evade or manipulate, they will do so at the peril of the workforce that forms their membership.
Decentralization of collective bargaining has come to stay
Hegemony of the trade union leaders began to diminish and they were helpless to control the impact of the technological innovations that engulfed the commercial world. The workers and the management both realized the new demands of the changed situation. With the breaking up of Russia, and China opting for economic reforms on the capitalist lines, leftist unions lost much of their sheen and the fountains of their sources of inspiration began to dry. Things have changed much.
Trade Union movement has become enlightened and the workers have realized that for any organization to establish in the business world, higher productivity and better management are the proper answers. The unions have become more responsive to constructive dynamism, and growth of the organization for which they are working for, and have accepted the philosophy of decentralization of collective bargaining.