Wage negotiation with workmen and union members is a matter to be viewed very seriously. The negotiation pattern and style depends to a great extend on the Industry, firm, wages/ benefits to workers prevailing and the attitude of the employer and employee. Above all, negotiation should take into account the particular situation which is prevailing in the company. There cannot be a simple practical solution or formula to solve this issue. Certainly, you have to study the matter carefully before the same is presented before the Union. Most often the union activist will not accept your statements. Therefore, it should be drafted in such a manner that the union could be convinced. Sometimes, a negotiation will take days and week to complete; don't worry, let it take its own time, we shall wait for the result.
Always try to act as a conciliator by bridging the two ends- the employer and employees. It may be with the silent permission of your employer, if you negotiate from the side of employees the matter will be more easy.
Remember that trade union representatives will not accept your balance sheet as it is. Therefore, do not try to compell them to accept it. Instead you can levell the figures in real terms and relate it to the performance/ productivity of workers. It may take a decreasing turn or increasing turn, the former is in favour of employer and the latter against the employer. If you could show the decreasing trend in labour productivity you can have a smooth negotiation.
As said, out side negotiation table you should convince the employer of the genuineness of the demands and the consequences of non acceptance of demands. For this use the salary and terms in the other firms in the same industry.
In brief, the negotiation of one company will be different from another and it differs from situation to situation. Therefore, act accordingly.
Remember that previlages becomes right and previlage once given cannot be taken back.
Regards and all the best.
8th May 2008 From India, Kannur