COLLECTIVE BARGAINING is a process of discussion and negotiation between employers and workers regarding terms of employment and working conditions. Workers are generally represented by trade unions with respect to expressing their grievances concerning service conditions and wages before the employer and the management. Refusing to bargain collectively in good faith with the employer is considered to be an unfair labour practice as per the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947
(“IDA”) . This is generally an effective system as it usually results in employers undertaking actions to resolve the issues of the workers. However, the legal procedure for pursuing collective bargaining in India is complicated.
Stages of Collective Bargaining in India
A. Charter of Demands
Typically, the trade union notifies the employer of a call for collective bargaining negotiations. However, in certain cases, the employer may also initiate the collective bargaining process by notifying the union(s). The representatives of the trade union draft a “charter of demands” through various discussions and consultations with union members. The charter typically contains issues relating to wages, bonuses, working hours, benefits, allowances, terms of employment, holidays, etc.
As a next step, negotiations begin after the submission of the charter of demands by the representatives of the trade union. In the negotiation process, the trade unions and the employer engage in debates and discussions pertaining to the demands made by the trade unions. In the event that such demands are rejected, the trade union may decide to engage in strikes.
C. Collective Bargaining Agreement
Next, a collective bargaining agreement will be drawn up and entered into between the employer and workmen represented by trade unions. These may be structured as bipartite agreements, memorandum of settlements or consent awards.