An International Labor Organization survey in 80 countries has found that collective bargaining agreements and practices are key to improving working conditions, closing the gender pay gap, and reducing inequality and discrimination in the workplace. ILO has launched the first in a series of reports on social dialogue.
A third or one in three workers worldwide benefit from collective bargaining agreements between trade unions and employers, the report said.
One of the more dramatic examples of this is the important role collective bargaining has played in mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on employment and earnings.
ILO Director-General Guy Ryder says the negotiating parties reached a solution that proved critical in protecting workers on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic. He says those solutions have proven important in preserving essential health care, social care and other services.
“Second, collective bargaining helped prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace with paid sick leave provision and joint monitoring of workplace safety and health during gradual lockdowns and workplace returns. And, third, and as in previous crises, collective bargaining helped save jobs, protect earnings, and secure business continuity. ,
Much attention has recently been paid to efforts to unify the corporate giants Amazon and Starbucks in the United States. However, the ILO report highlights the important role of collective bargaining in developing as well as developed countries. Susan Hayter, lead author of the ILO report, says 57 of the agreements reviewed were in African countries. She says country studies have found that collective bargaining in those countries is just as effective, if not more effective in some ways, than in developed countries.
“I just take the example of Sierra Leone, where we didn’t have job retention measures that maybe other countries in Europe had. And the parties sat down at the bargaining table and really tried to find a way to make sure that tourism ensure that the workers come in rotation on a lockdown basis so that all workers can get at least some income.”
The authors of the ILO report say that collective bargaining will be a necessary tool to cope with the fundamental changes that are shaking the world of work. They call the process a powerful problem-solving tool that can be used to the benefit of workers and employers alike.
They say that instead of being a contentious issue, collective bargaining should be used as a public interest.
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