All of this depends on how the managers and union representatives get on with each other and, more importantly, how much they trust each other. If managers take union representatives into their confidence by sharing ideas and information at the earliest stage, they have to know that this trust will not be breached. This is probably the most critical aspect of partnership working and presents as big a challenge to the trade union representative as it does to the manager. In a sense, the old method of industrial relations was relatively simple when both sides would try to “get one over” on the other by being secretive and bureaucratic. Openness and honesty, however, results in a big increase in responsibility for all of those involved in partnership working. This takes time to achieve.

A manager should eventually feel comfortable with bringing any issue to the attention of a union representative in the knowledge that any response would be clam and considered. In turn, the union representative should feel comfortable with bringing any issue to the attention of a manager in the knowledge that it will be considered seriously but not necessarily acted upon. All parties should communicate in a cordial manner without threats or a reversion back to “command and control” styles.