Advantages of Collective Bargaining
First, collective bargaining has the advantage of settlement through dialogue and consensus rather than through conflict and confrontation. It differs from arbitration where the solution is based on a decision of a third party, while arrangements resulting from collective bargaining usually represent the choice or compromise of the parties themselves. Arbitration may displease one party because it usually involves a win/lose situation, and sometimes it may even displease both parties.
Second, collective bargaining agreements often institutionalize settlement through dialogue. For instance, a collective agreement may provide for methods by which disputes between the parties will be settled. In that event the parties know beforehand that if they are in disagreement there is an agreed method by which such disagreement may be resolved.
Third, collective bargaining is a form of participation. Both parties participate in deciding what proportion of the 'cake' is to be shared by the parties entitled to a share. It is a form of participation also because it involves a sharing of rule-making power between employers and unions in areas which in earlier times were regarded as management prerogatives, e.g. transfer, promotion, redundancy, discipline, modernisation, production norms. However, in some countries such as Singapore and Malaysia, transfers, promotions, retrenchments, lay-offs and work assignments are excluded by law from the scope of collective bargaining.
Fourth, collective bargaining agreements sometimes renounce or limit the settlement of disputes through trade union action. Such agreements have the effect of guaranteeing industrial peace for the duration of the agreements, either generally or more usually on matters covered by the agreement.
Fifth, collective bargaining is an essential feature in the concept of social partnership towards which labour relations should strive. Social partnership in this context may be described as a partnership between organised employer institutions and organised labour institutions designed to maintain non-confrontational processes in the settlement of disputes which may arise between employers and employees.
Sixth, collective bargaining has valuable by-products relevant to the relationship between the two parties. For instance, a long course of successful and bona fide dealings leads to the generation of trust. It contributes towards mutual understanding by establishing a continuing relationship. The process, once the relationship of trust and understanding has been established, creates an attitude of attacking problems together rather than each other.
Seventh, in societies where there is a multiplicity of unions and shifting union loyalties, collective bargaining and consequent agreements tend to stabilise union membership. For instance, where there is a collective agreement employees are less likely to change union affiliations frequently. This is of value also to employers who are faced with constant changes in union membership and consequent inter-union rivalries resulting in more disputes in the workplace than otherwise.
Eighth - perhaps most important of all - collective bargaining usually has the effect of improving industrial relations. This improvement can be at different levels. The continuing dialogue tends to improve relations at the workplace level between workers and the union on the one hand and the employer on the other. It also establishes a productive relationship between the union and the employers' organization where the latter is involved in the negotiation process.