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Introduction to Trade Union Relations, Ground Rules & Negotiations

Is your HR department fully-equipped to forge strong relations with their Trade Unions? 

Time: 0930 -1245 

Price: £275 + VAT per attendee 

For all dates: Register here

  • Tuesday, 2nd July 

Introduction to Trade Union Relations for HR and Line Managers

Pay demands, cost of living increase, workloads, morale, disputes and breakdowns in union relations are all causing huge headaches for HR. Too many HR professionals feel under-equipped to tackle TU relations and lack the experience and knowledge to feel confident in tackling disputes and negotiations.

Right now, 61% of staff are disengaged – that costs the UK economy £340 billion per year. Good TU relations can reduce this figure. In fact, union reps can reduce voluntary exits by between 11,000 to 22,000 employees per year, saving employers around £49-98 million. So there’s a solid business, as well as moral case for making your TU relations as positive as possible.

This course covers:

  • Current and future legal changes
  • The post-Covid trade unions landscape: where strike action and workforce disputes will arise
  • 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 organisations

Recent feedback from Effective Trade Union Relations training

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

"Entertaining, fast paced in a good way" - Paragon Customer Communications

"Informative, practical with lots of helpful tips to support working with TUs" - Essex County Council 


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Prefer to run this course In-house?

We offer this course as a face-to-face or online In-house training option  – a cost effective training solution for teams, if this would be more suitable, please email

Which functions will benefit from attending

  • Union reps with little or no experience, HR personnel who need a refresher or overview of current challenges, Delegates who lack confidence in managing conflict, Employers who need to understand the new trade union landscape, Employers facing currently in conflict who need workable and fair solutions


Welcome and objective-setting

Elizabeth Smith

Elizabeth Smith

Director of Research
Business Forums International Ltd. (BFI)

View Bio
Business Forums International Ltd. (BFI) logo

Elizabeth Smith

Director of Research , Business Forums International Ltd. (BFI)

Elizabeth is director of research and a founding co-director at Business Forums International. She is responsible for all programme content and writing, and researches current areas of interest for senior HR professionals in large organisations. BFI is the UK’s leading HR risk specialist conference and training provider, delivering key and timely information to over 3,000 delegates a year both through public and in-house training courses. Before founding BFI in 1996, Elizabeth specialised in researching corporate financial programmes in Asia and the Middle East, based in Dubai. She also worked in advertising and publishing in the Middle East and London. Elizabeth was educated in the West Indies, Saudi Arabia and Belgium before reading Modern Languages at Durham University. She is currently developing an online training course for line managers to raise awareness of menopause symptoms and ways that employers can work to make their workplaces more inclusive.

A chance to revisit your reasons for attending the course, meet fellow delegates and establish and agree learning objectives

Introduction to the current unions landscape: A legal and practical overview

  • Sea changes in employer: union relations - what dynamics have changed
  • 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

Comfort break

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 possible areas of conflict and identifying ways in which your organisation’s culture and values play a role

Comfort break

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 2024?
  • 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

Feedback, final questions, planning and wrap-up

End of course

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