Workplace bargaining in Australia typically means adversarial bargaining. A drawn out, resource-hungry and often painful process characterised by ambit claims, information games, abrasive behaviour and chequered outcomes. It is a process that consumes time and resources. An exercise obliged by law or industrial forces.
There is an alternative approach. The CoSolve approach assumes that there are a range of shared, different and competing interests in the workplace.
Our approach fosters the development of problem-solving process skills, trust, respect and good communications. CoSolve encourages –
- training (preferably joint) for both bargaining teams in bargaining models and skills;
- the establishment of bargaining protocols and timetables;
- the negotiators to seek flexible mandates from their constituencies or principals to permit creative and innovative outcomes to be explored.
- moving away from rigid logs of claims; much better for solutions to be developed through the bargaining process, not claimed as positions in advance;
- negotiators to understand the parties’ underlying needs, and then to secure or reconcile them in negotiation;
- extensive information-sharing and joint research where possible;
- using shared data, brain-storming and problem-solving as integral parts of the bargaining process;
- reserving traditional bargaining for distributive issues (like pay movements) where appropriate, and explicitly acknowledging this as part of the process;
- retaining all the normal legal rights to use industrial power – as a final safeguard for parties;
- interest-based bargaining (mutual gains bargaining) where the parties are up for this.
For a much fuller account of models of bargaining, see chapters 2 and 3 of The Collaborative Workplace Option (Kindle).