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Edited by Adrian Wilkinson, Jimmy Donaghey, Tony Dundon and Richard B. Freeman
The term 'collective bargaining' was first used in 1891 by Beatrice Webb, an economic theorist and one of the founders of the industrial relations field in the UK. She and her partner Sidney Webb described collective bargaining as a process through which workers come together and send representatives to negotiate over their terms and conditions of employment. It was seen as a collective alternative to individual bargaining - or 'one of the methods used by trade unions to further their basic purpose "of maintaining or improving the conditions of their [members'] working lives" ' (Webb and Webb 1920: 1, cited in Flanders 1968: 1-2). The Webbs' definition emphasizes the importance of collective action on the part of workers in establishing and negotiating formal agreements. Other scholars have defined collective bargaining more broadly as a process of negotiation, joint decision-making, or joint regulation between groups who represent both employer and employee interests; and which implies the 'negotiation and continuous application of an agreed set of rules to govern the substantive and procedural terms of the employment relationship' (Windmuller et al. 1987, cited in Traxler 1994: 168). It is distinct from consultation or joint problem-solving, in that it results in formal, bargained agreements or contracts to which both parties are obliged to adhere during an agreed upon period.
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