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Labour Law

What Are Association Agreements in Labour Law?

Association agreements are designed keeping in mind the fundamental rights of humans. These legal frameworks ensure that the employer and working group can have their own voice. In this article, you will learn about association agreements in a labour organisation.

Association agreements are signed between an individual employer (or a group of company owners) and single or multiple trade unions. This document is usually considered voluntary, but when it expresses a clause stating both parties wish to enforce legal action, it becomes a legal bond. Association agreements can be implemented or strategically incorporated into separate employment offer letters. The employment contract even includes the norms that have to be followed at the personal level. This set of policies is vulnerable to change if disciplinary transformations are made in the association agreement.

The new workers in an organisation must get a fair chance to go through and assimilate the terms expressed in the association agreement. All the highlighted clauses are applicable irrespective of whether the worker is a member of the trade union or not.

The Association agreements are enacted in the industry in implied manners. Suppose an association agreement includes a no-strike policy. In that case, it does not imply the same for individual workers unless personal level agreements are made in writing, or related statements are highlighted in the employee contract. An association agreement that is legally binding gets automatically applied to the delegated worker on the transmission of an undertaking.

Common Terms Associated With the Labor Law

  • AC Petition: This term is an abbreviation that refers to the Amendment of Certification appeal. A worker or the trade union files an AC petition when they seem that there is potential room for necessary amendments in the certificate presented to the bargaining representative.
  • Advisory Arbitration: This terminology signifies scrutiny of labour-related disputes generating reports that summarise the argument’s specifications and present a solution. Advisory arbitration is also known as Fact-finding in labour law.
  • Accretion: As fresh workers are incorporated into an active bargaining unit after new job roles are introduced, a host of interest tests gets implemented to assess whether they belong in the unit or not.
  • Agency fee: This fee is charged to each member who belongs to the bargaining unit and has decided not to join the union. These charges form a sort of compensation to the trade union as all employees must be considered a part of the union. Agency fee is also called fair share fee.
  • Anti-Union Animus: An employer is described through this term when he is found to possess anti-union sentiments. Such employee behaviours are likely to impact several managerial decisions adversely.
  • Authorisation card: Employees sign this small card approving the union to speak on their behalf. Authorisation cards are signed by each worker even if they do not happen to be a union participant. When sufficient cards get approved, the union can call for an election to assess whether most of the workers wish to be a part of the union or not.
  • Bargaining rights: National Labor Relations law outlines these rights under Section 7.
  • Bargaining unit: A cluster of workers in a particular office or workspace who possess an adequate likeness of interest to form a unit in order to bargain as a group with their hirer. The National Labor Board generally sets the credentials of a bargaining unit.
  • Boycott: This term refers to a union’s refusal against normal workflow. The union members stop accessing the company’s resources, and thus, the service or manufacturing sector comes to a halt. Primary boycotts are addressed towards the employer who is not agreeing to the terms put forward by the labourers. Secondary boycotts target third-party employers whom the union wishes to stop trading with their agency. You must note that secondary boycotts do not hold legal validity.
  • Captive Audience Meeting: These are the meetings organised by management to clarify facts about the union framework. Company owners decide the meeting timing and venue. Employees receive payments for attending these meet-ups.
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  • Collective Bargaining: Negotiation process where trade unions, through the exclusive bargaining council, deal as a unit to finalise wages, working hours and additional roles and regulations of employment. Attorneys are often hired to handle the legal matters of a bargaining committee. They are responsible for negotiating with the management’s attorneys to reach a neutral agreement eventually.
  • Escape clause: This clause is mentioned in the union contract sheet that leverages the union members a time to escape or resign from the employees’ union. Those who uncheck this option will be considered union members for the entire contract duration.
  • Exempt Employee: A professional worker is not entitled to overtime pay as his rights are not protected under the Labor Standards Act. These workers get a fixed income each month and do not receive payment based on the number of working hours.
  • Featherbedding: The demand of union members regarding the recruitment of unnecessary surplus workers also includes urges for payment related to tasks that workers did not perform due to mechanisation in the office or plant. This component dramatically enhances labour expenses and reduces operational efficiency.
  • General strike: This is a rare occurrence where most organised labourers in a locality or community resort to protest against the employers.
  • Grievance: This is an official complaint issued by an employee who is a part of the union. The complaint is lodged against breach of association agreements. What elements are covered in grievance and how the company will react to a grievance vary considerably depending on association agreements.
  • Job action: Employees’ planned activities to exercise pressure on the hirer. This practice is different from a strike. For example, employees stop abiding by the dress code and wear casual outfits to work. They organise parking lot meetings. Phone lines are deliberately jammed, etc. These actions are even called inside strategies.

Landmark Judgment on Dispute Between Union and Manufacturing Plant

The court judged the Minerva Mills’ case in 1999 when a dispute erupted between the Secretary and the union headed by Suresh. The court, in a nutshell, edited the security clause to ensure that socio-economic justice is served to each worker. The company’s primary focus was shifted to comply with the statutory laws so that power supply does not get interrupted throughout the rural and urban sectors of Haryana.

A solid contract was dispensed to Kashmir Singh to properly maintain the hygiene of the Main Plant Infrastructure in Panipat. The budget delegated for this project was ₹ 33,000 per month; also, the contractor would require a minimum of 42 safai karmacharis who will commence the construction on 15th May.


Workers have the right to be a part of an open forum and build a community of their own within their workspace environment. This arrangement of employees helps in collective bargaining with employers in various aspects. Sometimes protests violate legal directives, and thus the government has to take strict actions to mediate between both parties. Although we have covered the key terminologies, there remains much more to learn about labour law. We suggest you go through our exclusive content to know the recent law amendments.

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