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Introduction to Trade Unions Relations, Ground Rules & Negotiations


Pay demands, cost of living crisis, workloads, low morale, disputes and breakdowns in trade union relations are all causing huge headaches for HR. We are hearing all too often that HR professionals feel under-equipped to tackle Trade Union relations and lack the experience and knowledge to feel confident in tackling disputes and negotiations. This intensive and interactive training course will arm you with the key industrial relations tools and knowledge required when dealing with trade unions.

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 

This course covers:

  • Current and future legal changes
  • The post-Covid trade unions landscape: where strike action and workforce disputes arise
  • The impact of the cost-of-living crisis
  • The role of conflict and how to manage it
  • The process and principles of conflict resolution and the skills and confidence to tackle the process in their own organisation

Introduction to Trade Unions Relations Course Overview 

The agenda below is used as a starting point for pre-course discussions with the trainer.

Introduction to union relations post-Covid: A legal and practical overview

  • Employment and labour law updates: What are your legal obligations, duties and parameters?
  • What legal changes might provoke strike action or provoke a workforce dispute?
  • Industry-specific challenges to be aware of

Understanding the employer relationship and where issues will come from in future

  • History and development of industrial relations
  • Unions and collective bargaining
  • Implications of diversity and globalisation
  • Organisational context
  • Covid legacy: impact and conflicts:
  • Workers versus furlough
  • WFH vs mandate to return to work
  • Vaccine policy and implementation
  • Redundancies
  • Pay and conditions
  • The role of networks

Exercise: brainstorming cost-of-living crisis and identifying ways in which your organisation’s culture and values play a role

Understanding, preventing and dealing with conflict

  • What happens when we avoid conflict?
  • Where do conflicts arise and why?
  • What are the key mistakes made and how can you avoid them?
  • Conflict as a conduit to problem-solving: how to stop being afraid and grasp the possibilities
  • What challenges are reps facing in 2022?
  • Building confidence in the principles and process of conflict management
  • Conflict versus compromise: understanding the pros and cons
  • Understanding the roles and responsibilities of reps and line managers: how does the relationship work?
  • Negotiation and collective bargaining
  • Understanding the difference between consulting and informing: when to do what
  • Deploying partnership approaches to secure collective employee voices

Exercise: in small groups, delegates will work on realistic current scenarios and produce potential solutions to discuss and critique with the trainer

Feedback, final questions, planning and wrap-up

Delegate feedback

"Great, some very practical tips on handling negotiations and especially from someone who has been a TU rep" 

"Yes, I would definitely recommend this training to others, useful guidance in dealing with union negotiations and knowledge of the course leader was excellent."

"Yes, good overview of unions and sharing experiences."

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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