Bargaining is the process of cajoling, debating, discussing and even threatening so as to arrive at an amicable agreement for those being represented. Collective bargaining is a procedure by which the terms and conditions of workers are regulated by agreements between their bargaining agents and employers. The basic objective of collective bargaining is to arrive at an agreement on wages and other conditions of employment. Both the employer and the employees may begin the process with divergent views but ultimately try to reach a compromise, making some sacrifices. As soon as a compromise is reached, the terms of agreement are put into operation. The underlying idea of collective bargaining is that the employer and employee relations should not be decided unilaterally or with the intervention of any third party. Both
parties must reconcile their differences voluntarily through negotiations, yielding some concessions and making sacrifices in the process. Both should bargain from a position
of strength; there should be no attempt to exploit the weaknesses or vulnerability of one party. With the growth of union movement all over the globe and the emergence of employers’ associations, the collective bargaining process has undergone significant changes. Both parties have, more or less, realised the importance of peaceful co-existence for their mutual benefit and continued progress.
It is collective in two ways. One is that all the workers collectively bargain for their common interests and benefits. The other is that workers and management jointly arrive at an amicable solution through negotiations.
Across the table, both parties bargain from a position of equal strength. In collective bargaining, the bargaining strength of both parties is equal. It is industrial democracy at work.
It is a group action where representatives of workers and management expend energies in order to arrive at a consensus. It has sufficient flexibility, since no party can afford to be inflexible and rigid in such situations. The unique feature of collective bargaining is that usually the parties concerned start negotiations with entirely divergent views but finally reach a middle point acceptable to both. It is therefore not a one-way street but a give and take process.
Both workers and management come to the negotiating table voluntarily in order to have a meaning ful dialogue on various troubling issues. They try to probe each other’s views thoroughly before arriving at an acceptable solution. The implementation of the agreement reached is also a voluntary process.
Collective bargaining is a continuous process. It does not commence with negotiations and end with an agreement. The agreement is only a beginning of collective bargaining. It is a continuous process which includes implementation of the agreement and also further negotiations.
Collective bargaining is a dynamic process because the way agreements are arrived at, the way they are implemented, the mental make-up of parties involved keeps changing. As a result, the concept itself changes, grows and expands over time.
Power relationship
Workers want to gain the maximum from management, and management wants to extract the maximum from workers by offering as little as possible. To reach a consensus, both have to retreat from such positions and accept less than what is asked for and give more than what is on offer. By doing so management tries to retain its control on workplace matters and unions attempt to strengthen their hold over workers without any serious dilution of their powers.
The chief participants in collective bargaining do not act for themselves. They represent the claims of labour and management while trying to reach an agreement. In collective bargaining the employer does not deal directly with workers. He carries out negotiations with representatives of unions who are authorised to bargain with the employer on work-related matters.

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