Coordination many organisations negotiate with

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Coordination Many organisations negotiate with various unions on behalf of different worker groups or bargaining units. These units are often site-based, but may also represent a specific type or level of worker or can be divided by region. With regard to this case study, negotiations with different trade unions take place according to region. In co-ordinating such negotiations, a major problem is the prejudicial effect the results of one negotiation might have on the next. For example, if an organisation has settled at one region on an increase of R100 per month, the negotiators will have little credibility at the next region if they offer R50 per month. The union will know that it can obtain R100 per month and push for more. This leverage situation must be minimised to cause the least disruption. The guidelines discussed hereunder may be of valuable assistance in the negotiation process. The organisation should try to avoid negotiations at an industry or corporate level. The more fragmented the bargaining units are (within reason), the less disruptive strike actions will be. If one branch is on strike, other branches (assuming there are no sympathy strikes) will be able to continue and perhaps increase operations, thereby minimising financial loss to the company. If negotiations are fragmented but centrally controlled, the mandates and settlements should be kept within a tight pay range so that leverage by the union and dissatisfaction amongst employees can be avoided. If, on the other hand, the various bargaining units are diverse and completely de-centralised, the organisation will be unable to maintain a tight pay range and should rather keep bargaining units entirely separate, with a low- profile corporate identify and little communication of pay rates and conditions between sites. Finally, where a number of centrally controlled negotiations happen in close succession, the organisation should start with the least aggressive negotiation likely to achieve the lowest settlement. The organisation can then improve upon this settlement in subsequent negotiations, while remaining within its mandate. Pay negotiation The actual pay negotiation will take place between the organisation's and the union's negotiators. The organisation's negotiators may be human resource managers, industrial-relations managers and/or line managers. In some cases, a remuneration or compensation specialist may also be involved in the actual negotiation. The negotiation follows a typical bargaining process, the union making an opening demand and the organisation an opening offer. The bargaining process then begins with both sides rationalising their offers and edging up or down from their original positions, sometimes over a lengthy period, until consensus is reached. If consensus is not reached, a stalemate may occur and the union will often call a strike. It is then up to one or both sides to shift their "final" position.
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