When and why would an employer want to end negotiations and present a trade union with a deadline?
The answer almost always relates to a pressing need to achieve changed working practices and reduce the paybill in times of recession, in the face of severe competition or challenging economic times. Quite simply, a company sees the management’s right to manage the business and react to market conditions as being unacceptably constrained by their inability to negotiate change with employee representatives.
From the union perspective, the failure to negotiate change lies with the employers and the negotiating stance they adopted. Unions are there to protect the jobs and the terms and conditions of their members, and their instinct is to resist any change that threatens these things, but unions can and do accept the need for change and have negotiated change – quite radical change – when they are convinced of the rationale for that change and have recognised that the alternatives to it are even more unacceptable - for example, failure and closure of the business.
(When there is a failure to negotiate a vital change agenda with a trade union, the roots of that failure can usually be traced to the nature of the management/union relationship over many years, and serious deficiencies in the company’s employee relations practices.)
From a union perspective, it is all too easy to confuse endless protracted discussion over management change proposals as negotiation, when in fact, it is not.
Negotiation requires reciprocal movement and concession, and a recognition of timescales and the inevitability of one or both side reaching the point of freedom to act - when negotiation ends, management implements and union strikes.
INEOS and Unite are at the point.
If Scottish Government can't help INEOS and Unite negotiate change, how the hell are they going to negotiate independence?