Collective Bargaining in the Workplace: How to Get Better Benefits for Yourself and Your Coworkers

by Ominigbo Ovie Jeffery

Are you dissatisfied with how you and your coworkers are treated at your workplace? Have you ever felt like you’re not getting the benefits you deserve? Or maybe you and your coworkers should be getting better salaries, more vacation time, or better health benefits.

Do you want to make some changes? If yes, you might want to learn how to make that change. One of the ways to get the change you desire at your workplace is through “collective bargaining.”

In this article, we will explore how you can use collective bargaining to get more benefits for yourself and your coworkers. You’ll learn everything from the basics of collective bargaining to practical tips for starting the process in your workplace. So if you’re ready to take control of your working life and get the benefits you deserve, let’s get started!

What is Collective Bargaining?

Collective bargaining is the process by which representatives of an organized group of employees (usually a labour union) and representatives of an employer negotiate the terms and conditions of employment, such as wages, benefits, working hours, and workplace rules.

The ultimate goal of collective bargaining is to reach a mutually beneficial agreement that addresses the needs and concerns of both parties. It’s common in Nigeria among public and civil servants but you may not find it at private firms. This is why everyone should consider collective bargaining at the workplace. Key points to note about collective bargaining are;

  • It typically involves a series of negotiations between employees and management, in which each side presents its proposals and bargaining positions.
  • The negotiations may involve different tactics and strategies, such as compromising, mediation, or arbitration, to reach a final agreement.
  • The collective bargaining process is governed by the laws and regulations of the country. In some cases, collective bargaining is mandatory, while in other cases, it is voluntary.

How Do You Initiate Collective Bargaining in the Workplace?

Before a bargain can yield results in your workplace, there are steps that you should take to achieve that.  Here are some steps to initiate collective bargaining in the workplace:

  1. Organize a union

The first step to initiating collective bargaining is to organize a union of employees interested in bargaining collectively. This can be done by contacting an established association or forming a new one.

  1. Ascertain the bargaining goals

The next step is to ascertain the goals of collective bargaining. The union needs to identify important issues for its members, such as salaries, benefits, working conditions, and job security.

  1. Ask for and schedule bargaining sessions

Once you’ve established a union and bargaining goals have been ascertained, the union should formally request bargaining with your employer. This can be done through a letter or a meeting with management. After your employer has received the request to bargain, both parties need to agree on a schedule for bargaining sessions. These sessions should be scheduled at a convenient time and place for both your union and the employer.

  1. Negotiate and reach an agreement

During bargaining sessions, the union and employer will negotiate on your identified issues. Both parties need to be open to compromise and willing to reach an agreement that is satisfactory to both sides.

  1. Ratify the agreement

Once an agreement has been reached, it needs to be ratified by the union members. This means that the members can vote on whether or not to accept the agreement.

Read Also: How to Promote Team Bonding at Work

Benefits of Collective Bargaining

One of the best efforts workers could ever make to make their complaints heard by their employers is through collective bargaining. Their bargaining power increases with their numbers. Here are some benefits of collective bargaining:

  1. Increased bargaining power

When you and your coworkers come together to negotiate with your employer, you have more bargaining power than if each worker negotiated on their own. This is because you can speak with one voice and present a united front.

  1. Better salaries and benefits

The extra working benefits, compensation, and conditions for you and your coworkers can improve due to collective bargaining. You can obtain more compensation, greater healthcare benefits, retirement plans, and adaptable schedules more frequently through collective bargaining by unions.

  1. Improved working conditions

Collective bargaining can also help you and your coworkers improve the company’s working conditions, such as safer working environments and better job security.

  1. Reduced inequality

By guaranteeing that every worker, regardless of tribe, gender, or other characteristics, is treated fairly and paid fairly for their labour, collective bargaining can assist in lessening inequality.

  1. Improved job satisfaction

When you and your coworkers have a say in their salaries, benefits, and working conditions, you are more likely to feel satisfied with your jobs and be more productive.

Read Also: How to Develop or Improve Company or Workplace Culture

How Can You Make Collective Bargaining Effective for You and Your Coworkers?

To make collective bargaining effective for you and your coworkers, it is important to take the following steps:

  1. Build a strong union

A strong union with a large and engaged membership is crucial to effective collective bargaining. You must ensure that all workers understand the benefits of collective bargaining and encourage them to become union members. Train union leaders and representatives to represent workers’ interests in negotiations effectively.

  1. Identify and prioritize your goals

Before beginning negotiations, it is important to identify and prioritize the union’s and its members’ goals. These goals may include better wages, benefits, working conditions, job security, and a voice in the workplace.

  1. Develop a bargaining strategy

You and other union representatives must develop a comprehensive bargaining strategy that considers the goals of the association and its members, the economic and political context of the negotiation, and the strengths and weaknesses of the union and your employer. The strategy should also consider the interests of other stakeholders, such as customers, suppliers, and the broader community.

  1. Be prepared and persistent

Effective collective bargaining requires a lot of preparation and persistence. This includes researching your employer’s finances and operations, developing bargaining proposals, and engaging in intensive negotiations. Be prepared to make concessions and compromises, but also be persistent in pursuing the union’s and its members’ goals.

  1. Involve all members of the union

Effective collective bargaining requires the involvement and mobilization of union members. You must hold regular membership meetings to update workers on the progress of negotiations, seek their input and feedback, and build support for the union’s bargaining position. Organize rallies, demonstrations, and other actions to raise public awareness and pressure the employer to reach a fair agreement.

Read Also: 7 Effective Ways to Delegate Tasks at Work

  1. Monitor and enforce the agreement

Once an agreement is reached, monitoring its implementation and enforcing its provisions is important. This includes ensuring that workers receive the benefits and protections negotiated in the agreement and holding the employer accountable for any violations.

Read Also: A Guide to Problem-solving in the Workplace

Disadvantages of Collective Bargaining

While it’s a fact that collective bargaining has many benefits for workers in a company, it also has some negative sides. Here are some disadvantages of collective bargaining:

  1. It’s time-consuming and costly

Collective bargaining can be a time-consuming and costly process for both workers and employers. Negotiations may take weeks or months, and both parties may need to hire legal and other experts to assist with the process.

  1. High propensity for strikes and work stoppages

If negotiations break down, there is a high propensity for strikes and work stoppages. This can be disruptive to you, coworkers, employers, and the broader community and can result in lost wages and productivity.

  1. Limited individual bargaining power

One of the issues with collective bargaining is that it can limit your bargaining power and that of other workers. Since workers are now in a union, every one would have to carry out negotiations collectively and stay bound by the terms of the collective agreement.

  1. The struggle to adapt to shifting market conditions

Usually, the agreements reached collectively are in effect for a fixed period of time, often several years. This can make it difficult for you, other workers, and your employers to respond quickly to changing market conditions, such as shifts in demand or the introduction of new technology.

  1. Potential for unequal treatment

For all workers, collective bargaining might not be equally effective. Workers who have more bargaining power, such as those in high-demand professions or those with specialized talents, may occasionally achieve better terms than others who work in lower-demand fields or have less bargaining power. This difference can cause a drawback in the total bargaining push from you and your coworkers.

Read Also: 8 Signs You’re in a Toxic Workplace

Common Obstacles in Collective Bargaining and How to Overcome Them

In the bid to achieve common goals through collective bargaining, certain loopholes will serve as obstacles to the process. These obstacles would be dealt with by offering solutions to them. Here are the obstacles to collective bargaining and their solutions:

  1. Conflict of interests

Once there is a conflict of interest between you, your coworkers, and your employer, there will be problems during the negotiation process. For instance, your employer may focus more on profitability and cost control, while you and your coworkers may be more concerned about wages, benefits, and job security.

To overcome this obstacle, both parties must be willing to understand and respect each other’s interests, find common ground, and come up with creative solutions that meet the needs of both parties.

  1. Power imbalances

Since it’s obvious that your employer has more power and resources than you all, this power can create an imbalance in bargaining power. This can make it challenging for you and other coworkers to negotiate on an equal footing and meet your needs. One way to address this imbalance is to form a union or join an existing union.

This can help level the playing field by giving you all a collective voice and bargaining power. Another approach is for the government to enact laws and regulations that protect workers’ rights and ensure fair labour practices.

  1. Lack of trust

Collective bargaining demands that there’s trust between you all and your employer. If trust is lacking, negotiations can break down and lead to an impasse. To build trust, you both should be transparent and honest in your communications. You all should be willing to share information and listen to each other’s concerns. A neutral third party, such as a mediator, can also help build trust and facilitate negotiations.

  1. Time constraints

As a fact, collective bargaining can be a time-consuming process, and you and your employer may be under pressure to reach an agreement quickly. You can end up with a worse outcome than when you all began. To overcome time constraints, you both should come to the table with clear goals and priorities. Both parties should be prepared to negotiate in good faith and make concessions when necessary. It’s also important to set realistic deadlines and stick to them.


Collective bargaining is one of the most effective ways to get solutions to issues raised in the workplace. As good as it is, it still has its ills and obstacles, which must be considered when negotiations are in view. Remember that not all bargaining will always lead to answered requests from you and your coworkers, but it will make your voice and those of your coworkers heard and listened to.

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About Author

Avatar of Ominigbo Ovie Jeffery
Ominigbo Ovie Jeffery
I am an enthusiastic content and creative writer. I harness opportunities to make fact-based, fictional and SEO-enhanced creative content that are captivating, interesting and worthwhile.

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