Voice & Privacy

Business does not comply with collective bargaining agreements


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.

Relevant Human Rights Instruments

Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, Article 23
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1966, Articles 7 and 8
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, 1965, Article 5(e)
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966, Article 22
Convention concerning the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise and to Bargain Collectively, 1948 (No. 87)
ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, 1998



SDG 8.8

Businesses that comply with collective bargaining agreements may contribute to SDG 8.8: Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment.