All workers have a right to freedom of association, which includes the right to join trade unions and take collective action. Collective bargaining is where employees join together to negotiate fair wages and working conditions with their employers through a trade union (subject to national law qualifications). Issues that are typically subject to collective bargaining include wages, leave entitlements, working hours, safety and equal treatment.
Employees (particularly in certain industries) may join a trade union, which will negotiate and advocate workplace rights on behalf of its members. Labour laws exist to protect workers as there can often be an unequal level of negotiating power between employers and employees. There may be different qualifications under national laws regarding the scope and power of trade unions, and businesses must comply with any such laws.
Effective and ongoing communication between employer and employee is important to ensure that terms and conditions agreed upon in a collective bargaining agreement are applied consistently across the workplace. Training and support may be required by business management to ensure staff at all levels have the knowledge and capacity to uphold what was agreed.
Failure to engage with trade unions to reach, or comply with, a collective bargaining agreement can lead to legal and industrial action, including strikes, that can lead to significant disruption within a business.