labour-management partnership

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A collective agreement between a trade union and an employer that gives effect to the concept of social partnership at enterprise level. Agreements of this kind have been negotiated by a growing number of UK companies and trade unions in recent years, and there are also several well-known examples in North America. Partnership agreements typically consist of a joint declaration of commitment to the principles of mutual respect and cooperation and a number of substantive and procedural rules. The main substantive elements usually embrace employer commitment to employment security, training, equal opportunities and employee involvement in return for union acceptance of flexible working practices and long-term pay agreements. The main procedural clauses usually involve reduced reliance on collective bargaining and the introduction of new consultative machinery. In many cases, partnerships have also involved the use of joint working parties, made up of management and union representatives, to find mutually acceptable solutions to shared problems or address areas of common interest. Labour-management partnerships are advocated by the TUC and have been endorsed by the UK government. They have been criticized by some in the trade union movement, however, on the grounds that they promote the incorporation of unions into management and produce few concrete benefits for workers, whilst providing employers with higher productivity and lower labour costs.

Subjects: Human Resource Management — Public Health and Epidemiology.

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