multi-employer agreement(in INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS) an agreement between a group of employers and TRADE UNIONS governing rates of pay and conditions of employment in all of these companies. In multi-employer COLLECTIVE BARGAINING in the UK the employers' interests are usually represented by an EMPLOYERS' ASSOCIATION, which aspires to represent all employers in that particular industry Such agreements are thus often also called ‘industry-wide agreements’. On the union side, the negotiations are usually conducted by paid regional or national officials rather than lay SHOP STEWARDS. The forum in which the agreement is made is known in some industries as a joint industrial council.
Multi-employer collective bargaining agreements developed in the UK from the 1920s onwards, but since the 1960s these agreements have declined in significance. Some firms have moved to company or plant-level bargaining whilst others do not subscribe to collective agreements with unions. However, multi-employer agreements are very important in some other European countries, such as Germany.