From Wikipedia: Collective bargaining is a process of negotiations between employers and the representatives of a unit of employees aimed at reaching agreements which regulate working conditions. Collective agreements usually set out wage scales, working hours, training, health and safety, overtime, grievance mechanisms and rights to participate in workplace or company affairs.
The union may negotiate with a single employer (who is typically representing a company’s shareholders) or may negotiate with a group of businesses, depending on the country, to reach an industry wide agreement. A collective agreement functions as a labor contract between an employer and one or more unions. Collective bargaining consists of the process of negotiation between representatives of a union and employers (generally represented by management, in some countries[which?] by an employers’ organization) in respect of the terms and conditions of employment of employees, such as wages, hours of work, working conditions and grievance-procedures, and about the rights and responsibilities of trade unions. The parties often refer to the result of the negotiation as a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) or as a collective employment agreement (CEA).
The nature of the problem influences the whole process. Whether the problem is very important and needs to be discussed immediately or it can be postponed for some other convenient time, whether the problem is a minor one so that it can be solved with the other party’s acceptance on its presentation and does not involve a long process of collective bargaining etc. It also influences a selection of representatives their size, period of negotiations and period of agreement that is reached ultimately. As such it is important for both the parties to be clear about the problem before entering into the negotiation.
Both labour and management initially spend considerable time collecting relevant data relating to grievances, disciplinary actions, transfers and promotions , lay-offs , overtime, former agreements covering wages, benefits, working conditions (internal sources) and current economic forecasts, cost of living trends, wage rates in a region across various occupations, competitive terms offered by rivals in the field etc.
The success of collective bargaining depends on the skills and knowledge of the negotiators. Considerable time should, therefore be devoted to the selection of negotiators with requisite qualifications. Generally, speaking, effective negotiators should have a working knowledge of trade unions principles, operations, economies, psychology, and labour laws. They should be good judge of human nature and be able to get along with people easily. They must know when to listen, when to speak, when to stand their ground, when to concede when to horse trade, and when to make counter proposals. Timing is important. Effective speaking and debating skills are essential.
The strategy is the plan and the policies that will be pursued at the bargaining table. Tactics are the specific action plans taken in the bargaining sessions. It is important to spell out the strategy and tactics in black and white broadly covering the following aspects:
Generally each side tries to find out how far the other side is willing to go in terms of concessions and the minimum levels each one is willing to accept.
Successful negotiations, after all, are contingent upon each side remaining flexible. Each party should be willing to conceded up to a certain extent depending on one’s own compulsions and pressures, with a view to win over the other party. If neither party is willing to concede a little bit, negotiations reach a deadlock, which can eventually result in a strike on the part of the union or a lockout on the part of the management.