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Advanced Effective Negotiations with Trade Unions


Negotiating with unions can go wrong; when it does, the cost to your organisation will be huge. Industrial action, low staff morale, a disrupted workplace and negative corporate reputation can all be avoided. Understanding the process, psychology and practicality of effective negotiations will have long-reaching benefits for workers and management alike. This training programme will examine how employers can engage worried and disaffected staff, how organisations can optimise union relations in the current uncertain climate and how to effectively resolve internal and external disputes.

The programme content can be adapted to meet your specific organisational challenges and training needs. The course runs for approximately 6.5 hours and can be adapted for a briefing or half-day session. 

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the programme you will:

  • Understand the psychology, process and behaviours of the negotiating process
  • Maximise your relationship with your workplace unions and develop a joint-problem-solving culture
  • Gain the tools to apply new skills in resolving real-life negotiations

Course Overview

History of UK industrial relations: Changes and context since 2000; effects of the Information & Consultation regulations; how the expanse of staff forums in the UK have influenced how organisations deal with trade unions; the changing political landscape: the direct effect on industrial and employee relations in the workplace.

Understanding engagement and option-based negotiations: National policies: a snapshot; industrial and employee relations in the UK, how they differ, and the differences between trade unions and staff forums; legacies of Covid-19; the relationship and links between the “corporate” trade union, regional officers and workplace representatives; perspectives and ideology; defining and exploring more traditional negotiation: pros and cons; the issues of training and support offered by trade unions to its representatives

5 key steps to engagement: how do trade unions support increased employee engagement; consultation vs negotiation: understanding the differences; what does good practice look like; option-based negotiation as a tool for organisational change.

Strategies to optimise communications with your trade unions: using and effectively leveraging the 15 strategic questions; minimising rumour and conspiracy theories; preparing for difficult discussions; encouraging professional counter-proposals; producing high-quality communication; encouraging innovation from the shop floor

Identifying and overcoming barriers to high-quality communication: ensuring all communication is factual and consistent; the role of social media and informal industrial action; how social platforms can create momentum; essential tools for monitoring, countering, managing and influencing social media challenges.

The 10 Leader Exercises: an exploration and analysis of the engaging behaviours that managers need to display in all meetings with trade union representatives. Delegates will use this briefing to establish an in-house code of conduct

Identify the day-to-day tension points of the TU and employer relationship: delegates will share their own challenges and experiences with reference to the following: handling disciplinary cases; handling grievances; dealing with the minutiae; developing a joint-problem solving culture; understanding and defining the role of the union representative

Practical exercises: Working in groups, delegates will examine four real-life case studies to identify common problems and optimum working solutions. Delegates will build on skills to develop workable personal action plans.

Next steps and sources of on-going support

Make an in-house training enquiry 

Click here to fill in our enquiry form or to have a confidential discussion about your requirements, please contact Catherine Ouston our Head of In-house Training on 01983 861133 or email

Book a 15-minute consultation with our course designer

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Let us provide your employees with the tools, skills and mindset they need to meet today's HR challenges. In-house courses to suit your budget and learning objectives.

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