3.2 Strengthening collective bargaining
Achieving and strengthening collective bargaining is the core activity of trade unions and remains the best instrument for improving wages and conditions, regulating the relationship between employers and workers and solving problems at the workplace. Its impact goes beyond the workplace and affects the living conditions and development prospects of communities. Collective bargaining should be increasingly used as a tool for trade unions to engage with communities and promote the broader interests of workers as citizens and consumers.
Over the past decade the trade union movement has been attacked by employers, governments and their allies who are determined to weaken collective bargaining, thereby weakening the union movement. In particular, employers are eager to eradicate national, sectoral, and sometimes even enterprise-wide collective bargaining. Using the threat of outsourcing production and services, they push for more flexibility and other concessions. New forms of employment and work practices are imposed on employees, increasing stress and insecurity. In developing countries, foreign investors in particular demand deregulation of labour law and other regulatory changes, which have negative impacts on the development opportunities for these countries. The IMF will work with affiliates to ensure that collective agreements continue to provide a framework for intervening on all work issues including decent wages and working conditions, including working time, work organisation, pace of work and health and safety.
In the long-term, and as companies increasingly operate globally, collective bargaining at the international level, while respecting the rights of national unions, must be the goal of the IMF. As a first step, an information and coordination system should be established.
To develop and strengthen global and national collective bargaining efforts, the IMF will:
- Develop ways to exchange information on collective bargaining that build on the experiences gained at the regional level in Europe and elsewhere;
- Build commonality for bargaining among affiliates at the global level, e.g. by developing global union positions on issues such as precarious employment and training;
- Conduct cross-border negotiations with TNC with the involvement of functioning global union networks and an IMF coordinator, based on clear case by case mandates from affiliates. In order to have a framework of action for these cross-border negotiations, the IMF Executive Committee will develop IMF guidelines with the support of the Secretariat, which will also describe the roles of the IMF coordinators. Not only may IFAs be negotiated, but also topics such as health and safety and training; access to information and other issues of common interest; and
- Assist affiliates in building collective bargaining capacity at the national level.
IMF affiliates shall:
- Provide information on collective bargaining experiences to others; and
- Strive to remove legal obstacles to collective bargaining at the national and sectoral level.
Jun 19, 2009 – Alex Ivanou