NJORD provides legal advice on all challenges related to collective agreements. We can ensure that your company is aware of the rules of the collective agreement in question. In addition, we advise and support the following issues: in Sweden, the scope of collective agreements is very high, although there are no legal mechanisms to extend agreements to whole sectors. In 2018, 83% of all private sector employees were subject to collective agreements, 100% of public sector employees and 90% in total (compared to the overall labour market).  This reflects the predominance of self-regulation (regulation by the labour market parties themselves) over state regulation in Swedish industrial relations.  The union may negotiate with a single employer (who usually represents the shareholder of a company) or with a group of companies, depending on the country, to reach an industry-wide agreement. A collective agreement functions as an employment contract between an employer and one or more unions. Collective bargaining is conducted in negotiations between union representatives and employers (usually represented by management or, in some countries such as Austria, Sweden and the Netherlands, by an employers` organisation) on the conditions of employment of workers, such as wages, working time, working conditions, redress procedures and trade union rights and obligations. The parties often refer to the outcome of the collective agreement or collective agreement (AEC) negotiation. It is important to note that after the conclusion of a KBA, both the employer and the union are required to respect this agreement. Therefore, an employer should retain the assistance of a lawyer before participating in collective bargaining. In the United States, the National Labor Relations Act (1935) covers most collective agreements in the private sector.
The Act makes it illegal for employers to discriminate, spy, harass or terminate workers because of their union membership or to retaliate for organizing campaigns or other “concerted activities,” creating business unions or refusing to engage in collective bargaining with the union that represents their employees. It is also illegal to require any worker to join a union as a condition of employment.  Trade unions are also able to ensure safe working conditions and adequate remuneration for their work. Traditionally, a collective agreement is defined as an agreement between a union or other workers` association, on the one hand, and an employer organization or a company, on the other. The right to collective bargaining is recognized by international human rights conventions. Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights describes the ability to organize fundamental human rights unions.  Point 2 (a) of the International Labour Organization`s statement on fundamental principles and rights in the workplace defines “freedom of association and effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining” as an essential worker`s right.  The 1948 Convention on Freedom of Association and the Protection of the Right to Organization (C087) and several other conventions protect collective bargaining in particular by creating international labour standards that deter countries from violating workers` right to co-association and collective bargaining.  For example, if your company joins an employer organization that has a collective agreement with a workers` association/union.