Can collective enterprise bargaining affect the psychological contract? An analysis of the 2011 Australian Public Service negotiations
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This article explores how the process of collective workplace bargaining has an impact on employees’ psychological contracts in the Australian Public Service. Based on two case studies from the 2011 bargaining round, the researchers identify the bargaining parties’ expectations, perceptions of whether or not the negotiations were based on trust and fairness, and whether employees considered that their employer had reneged on the deal. It is found that the bargaining process can reinforce employees’ collective and individual sense of a breach of their psychological contract based on their perceptions that the employer is not delivering their side of deal, but expects ever-increasing employee contributions in a tighter fiscal environment. The article concludes that an emphasis on communication, procedural fairness, and maintaining employee trust can, nevertheless, repair and even sustain the relational elements of psychological contracts.