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employers' associationan organization of employers in an industry with the function of representing their mutual interests in the promotion of trade (for example, representation at trade fairs) and/or dealing with labour and INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS issues. Regarding the latter, four functions are usually identified:
- negotiation of MULTI-EMPLOYER AGREEMENTS regulating rates of pay and conditions of employment in member companies;
- operation of a DISPUTES PROCEDURE. Where an INDUSTRIAL DISPUTE arises in a member company the association can step in (if requested) to apply a procedure for resolving the dispute;
- provision of advice to member companies on industrial relations and employment questions;
- representation of member companies' views to third parties, for example government.
With the growth of COLLECTIVE BARGAINING within companies, employers' associations are not as important in many industries as they once were. Nevertheless, they continue to provide important services for those small companies which do not have the resources to develop these functions in-house.