In most unionised employments, the terms and conditions of employment are defined by a process of negotiation between the employer and the Union. In very many cases these terms and conditions are formally stated in a written agreement signed by representatives of the employer and the workforce.

The issues covered by this agreement usually include wages, hours (including shift arrangements and overtime), grading, work practices, safety, hygiene and health, holidays and paid leave, maternity leave, pensions, canteen facilities, health insurance, promotion procedures, provisions for participation in Union affairs (including education courses), disciplinary arrangements, procedures for handling grievances, and so on. The precise terms of the agreement depend upon the particular circumstances in the employment. For example, in some cases, the agreement may also cover issues like paternity leave, meal and subsistence allowances, access to creche facilities or a company health service. In other words, anything and everything affecting our members jobs and the way they do it may be included in the agreement.

While most agreements specify the length of time during which the agreement is in force, they may, of course, be extended or renewed - either in whole or in part - with the consent of the two sides. These agreements also sometimes include a pledge on the part of both sides not to resort to strike action (in the case of the workers) or lock-out (in the case of the employer) without first trying to resolve the issue in dispute through agreed procedures.

Where national agreements are in place, their provisions are usually incorporated into local agreements.

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