Collective bargaining contributes to the establishment of fair working conditions and benefits, and is integral to the provision of high quality education services. Furthermore, it is the basis for preventing labour disputes and determining procedures for settlements, particularly in the context of economic crisis or special circumstances.
EI has developed material to strengthen the capacity of teacher organisations to promote decent work, equality, status and education quality through institutionalised collective bargaining machinery.
ILO Convention 98 on the Right to Organise and to Bargain Collectively (1949) states that trade unions must have the right, through collective bargaining or other lawful means, to seek to improve the living and working conditions of those whom they represent. All public service workers should enjoy collective bargaining rights, and priority should be given to collective bargaining to settle disputes arising in connection with the terms and conditions of employment. Both employers and trade unions are to bargain in good faith and make every effort to reach an agreement.
In April 2014, the ILO Global Dialogue Forum on Challenges to Collective Bargaining in the Public Service (Geneva, 2-3 April 2014) adopted points of consensus to guide ILO Members States, Employers’ and Workers’ organisations, as well the ILO Office on ways to promote collective bargaining in the public service.
EI had developed its own draft action points that the EI delegation brought forward during the Forum (EI actions points). The ILO had prepared a background paper to inform the discussion, entitled Collective bargaining in the public service: Bridging gaps for a better future. The document provides an overview of the impact of the financial crisis on labour relations and social dialogue in the public service, with a focus on ILO Convention 151 (1978) on Labour Relations in the Public Service. EI developed an executive summary of this report.
The ILO Forum is an outcome of the discussion on the ILO General Survey 2013, Collective bargaining in the public service: a way forward, that served as a base for the debates. EI had also developed an Executive Summary and Recommendations for follow-up to be used widely by teacher unions in their dealings with Governments.
A recent EI Study on trends in freedom of association and collective bargaining in the education sector since the financial crisis shows that genuine collective bargaining is not widespread in the education sector. In most countries, the terms and conditions of employment for public employees, including teachers, are covered by special legislative provisions, whereby the government determines a budgetary allocation and salary scales, within which negotiations or consultations may take place. Many of the countries in the study have faced substantive government imposed restrictions on collective bargaining (such as some States in Australia and the USA, some provinces in Canada, and in Greece and Spain). These restrictions range from outright revocation of existing collective agreements; government imposed wage settlements; legislation to prohibit strike action; new government powers to suspend or modify existing collective agreements and new legislation to prohibit collective bargaining in the public sector.
Country reports (extracts from the EI study):