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Collective bargaining

Collective bargaining is the process of negotiation between trade unions (or labor unions, as they are called in the USA) and employers (represented by management) in respect of the terms and conditions of employment of employees, such as wages, hours, working conditions and grievance procedures, and about the rights and responsibilities of trade unions. The term is reputed to have been coined by the British Academic Beatrice Webb in the late nineteenth century to describe a process alternative to that of individual bargaining between employer and individual employees. Other writers have emphasised the conflict-resolution aspects of collective bargaining, but in Britain the most important refinement was that made by Allan Flanders, who defined it as a process of rule-making, leading to joint regulation in industry. The term is usually seen as necessarily containing an element of negotiation and hence as distinct from processes of consultation, from which negotiation is absent, and where outcomes are determined unilaterally by the employer. In Britain collective bargaining for many years has been, and been endorsed as, the dominant and most appropriate means of regulating workers' terms and conditions of employment, in line with ILO Convention No. 84. However, the importance of collective bargaining in Britain and elswhere has been declining considerably since the early 1980s.

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