Under common law, Ford v. A.U.E.F. , , the courts found once that collective agreements were not binding. Second, the Industrial Relations Act, introduced by Robert Carr (Minister of Labour in Edward Heath`s office), provided in 1971 that collective agreements were binding, unless a written contractual clause indicated otherwise. Following the fall of the Heath government, the law was struck down to reflect the tradition of the British labour relations policy of legal abstention from labour disputes. Collective bargaining allows workers and employers to voluntarily agree on a wide range of issues. Nevertheless, it is limited to some extent by federal and regional laws. A collective agreement cannot be entered into by contract, which is prohibited by law. For example, a union and an employer may use unconventional negotiations to deprive workers of the rights they would otherwise enjoy under laws such as civil rights laws (Alexander v. Gardner-Denver Co., 415 U.S. 36, 94 P. Ct.
1011, 39 L Ed. 2d 147 ). Nor can collective bargaining be used to waive the rights or obligations that the laws impose on each party. For example, an employer cannot negotiate with collective agreements to lower safety standards that it must meet under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (29 U.S.C.A. Moreover, the collective agreement is not purely voluntary. The inability of one party to reach an agreement allows the other party to resort to certain legal tactics, such as strikes and lockouts, to exert economic pressure and to reach an agreement. Moreover, unlike trade agreements governed by national law, the collective agreement is almost exclusively governed by federal labour law, which determines issues that require collective bargaining, the date and nature of negotiations, and the consequences of non-negotiation or compliance with a collective agreement. Before the union can enter into collective bargaining, it must be certified by the Labour Council. In a short period of time after the certification is received, the union will begin collective bargaining (or negotiations) with the employer. The aim of the negotiations is to reach agreement on the many issues that can be included in the agreement.
Nevertheless, a party`s insistence on a certain contract term is not necessarily an unfair labour practice. The NRL and the courts that review and enforce their orders are not prepared to replace their judgment with that of the parties and will not judge the content of the collective agreements (NLRB/American National Insurance Co., 343 U.S. 395, 72 P. Ct. 824, 96 L Ed. 1027 ). Moreover, the use of “economic weapons”, such as pressure tactics, picketing and strikes to force bargaining concessions, is not necessarily a negotiation in bad faith (NLRB v. Insurance Agents` International Union, 361 U.S. 477, 80 P.
Ct. 419, 4 L Ed. 2d 454 ). Procedures for the application of workers` rights are also defined in collective agreements. It is the union`s responsibility to enforce workers` rights by filing a complaint and, if necessary, pursuing the matter before arbitration. As a general rule, workers must apply for union representation to assert their rights when a complaint is rejected by their direct supervisor. The exact process of filing a complaint, and even the continuation of conciliation, varies in different collective agreements. For more information on appeal and arbitration procedures, see the appeal and arbitration procedure.