Collective Bargaining definition

Negotiations between employers and groups of employees in order to reach mutually-beneficial agreements that regulate working conditions. Employee interests will typically be represented by a trade union or several trade unions, while employers’ interests are likely to be represented by management figures (of a single company) or industry bodies/trade associations.

The aim of collective bargaining is to reach collective agreements – these form labour contracts and may be binding across a single company, multiple companies or industry-wide.  They typically lay down rules around salary scales, overtime policies, grievance procedures, working hours, workplace harassment and training stipulations. Collective agreements are also known as collective bargaining agreements (CBA) or collective employment agreements (CEA).

Collective bargaining is a crucial part of employment law and is recognised internationally as a human right, including by Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Item 2(a) of the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.

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