STRATEGIC BARGAINING

Getting the best outcomes for HACSU members

Strategic, interest-based bargaining is all about being clear and transparent about HACSU Members’ interests and the outcomes we’re seeking and it involves good faith between members and employers.

Being strategic involves collective approaches and activities to build sustained improvements for members over time while managing short term and long term perspectives and involves building union membership and strength to achieve influence.

Preparation and planning are key, and it creates opportunities for membership organisation and for engagement with the employer.

We need to understand difference and conflict, and see them as natural things to be dealt with instead of avoided, and awareness of other parties’ interests around an issue is vital, as is taking the lead on some strategic issues - problem-solving techniques are a great tool during negotiations.

Successful negotiation

‍Successful negotiation focuses on the interests of HACSU members rather than simply presenting a list of demands, and we clearly describe and define both the interests of members and employers which means we can identify shared interests and try to understand what each party really wants.

We generate options so we can consider all of the possibilities on which we might agree, maximise value to all parties, and make sure we don’t miss any joint gains, and we develop assessment criteria for our options so we can persuade on the basis of independent standards or benchmarks, so the results will be seen as fair.

Maintaining a good, professional working relationship between the negotiating teams lets us manage our differences effectively to ensure the process we use now improves our ability to negotiate in the future, and effective, efficient communication across the table and within our own team means the message sent is the message received.

We make sure we’re clear about our best alternative to a negotiated agreement in case we can’t reach agreement, so that we know what we can do outside of the negotiations process such as taking collective action.

When we make commitments and agreements it’s important that they are realistic (can be done), sufficient (cover the necessary points) and operational (clear about the what, when and how).

Stages of Negotiation

Prepare

Research, support of members, employer’s position, objectives, options, negotiating team preparation, venue set up.

Discuss Wants

Exchange info, explore interests, explain, take notes, maintain a positive and pleasant approach, don’t get side-tracked, keep to facts, avoid personalities, understand the other party’s position, listen without interruption, ask open questions, obtain info, listen for signals and confirm, reward signals, make no concessions, do not enter into arguments or agreements at this stage.

Propose

Advance negotiations by suggesting proposals: “What if…”, “maybe…”, “…could consider…” Question, clarify, summarise then respond. A proposal is stronger than an argument. The best response to a proposal is a considered counter-proposal. Don’t interrupt. Package and re-present the same proposal in a different form which matches the interests of the other party. Get a full list of the other party’s issues. Ensure we have given our full list of issues.

Bargain (Offer, Negotiate, Discuss)

Make proposals and firm offers. Offer what is cheap for you to give and valuable for them to receive. Avoid giving away concessions that are of no cost to you without asking for something in return. Make conditions before making offers. Do not resort to emotive terms or propaganda - use logic, facts, figures, examples and precedents. Talking people around to your point of view (persuasion) should be used with discretion and infrequently.

Agree

Agree on what’s been agreed by both parties. Make final offers and clear up any ambiguous detail. Summarise it, write it down. If final agreement isn’t possible get an in-principle agreement to be ratified in future.

Follow Up

Hold meetings, report back to members, ensure agreements are carried out, inform others who may need to know such as the media. Good strategic bargaining is the best way to look after the interests of HACSU members and achieve the outcomes we seek and, as with everything we do, growing union membership always leads to more strength, greater influence and even better outcomes.

Remember, HACSUassist offers support and guidance for HACSU members and all calls are confidential. Just call 1300 880 032.