A collective organization of employers, usually based on a particular industry or industry segment. Prominent examples in the UK include the Engineering Employers' Federation (EEF), the Newspaper Society, the Association of Colleges, the Producers' Alliance for Cinema and Television (PACT), the Chemical Industries Association (CIA), the Road Haulage Association (RHA), and the National Farmers' Union (NFU). Employers' associations are important actors within the industrial relations system of many countries and discharge a number of functions. In the past, they were involved extensively in resisting unionization but today they engage in collective bargaining and processes of dispute resolution with trade unions. In addition, employers' associations lobby governments and provide a range of consultancy, research, and advisory services to their members. The latter activity has grown in importance in recent years, as industry bargaining has declined in significance. Employers' associations continue to play a central role in industrial relations in many European countries, though there are indications of decline. These include reducing membership, non-membership amongst large, inward-investing companies, and tension between large and small firms, particularly over wages policy and relations with trade unions. Employers' associations are representative organizations and, in most cases, their activities are overseen by an elected council or conference. The commitment to democratic decision-making and accountability of trade unions, however, tends not to be as strong on the employers' side. Many employers' associations affiliate to confederations of business at national level (e.g. Confederation of British Industry) and European level (e.g. UNICE). [See multi-employer bargaining.]
Subjects: Human Resource Management.