Tripartism is the active cooperation among the government, employers and the workers in decision and policy making on government issues with an aim of deriving solutions on issues affecting all of them. For this to be successfully achieved, the three bodies act jointly as equal and independent social partners to allow for the free exchange of ideas. The success of this relationship is also a factor of commitment, competency, and activeness of these three institutions, and their willingness to reach and respect agreements. The employers are interested in making a good profit, unions want a good pay for the workers and the government want a good environment for investment. Employers can only meet their objectives by taking good care of the workers so that they put in their best effort in production and in turn the workers can only enjoy a better lifestyle with good salary from their employers who provide them with jobs. Thus they must co-exist and have a good relationship. The government is said to be growing if the amount of revenue it receives in terms of tax is high and the living standards of its citizens is well above average. Tripartism therefore ensures that the goals for these three institutions are met. By interacting in this way, the employers and workers are able to shape the social and economic policies and programs and this ensures they actively participate in governance (Sale, 2003, pg. 1). All these efforts are targeted towards reducing the tension in employment relations.

The principle of collective bargaining prompted by this coming together ensures that no conflicts arise among these institutions. The existence of a high degree of confidence between the government and the unions by the inclusion of the unions in decision making have resulted in reduced cases of workers strikes and industrial action as a means of settling disputes. This means there has been reduced time lost in demonstrations and this ensures continued production resulting in good profits for the employers and in turn consequent pay rises or bonuses for the workers. The inclusive decision making progress also ensures that there is equity in distribution of the resources in terms of gains from industries.

A good example to illustrate tripartism is the Philippines where the law allows the secretary of labor to organize national, regional and industrial conferences. This allows him to bring together representatives from the government, workers and the employers to discuss issues on the possible ways of promoting industrial peace based on social justice. They are also able to align labor movement relations with established priorities in economic and social development (Sale, 2003, pg. 1).

Tripartism was also applied in Canada after the Second World War to allow for collective bargaining on issues that were on contention at that time. The low wages and the poor working conditions and the need to improve the employment relations made unions to organize strikes to compel the government to formulate agreed on policies which were later enacted through legislation to allow for collective bargaining on the necessary pay rises and improvement of the working conditions. The workers also needed some form of protection from the employers who seem to hear their demands (Macdowell, 1978).

Sometimes tripartism can be biased to a group or groups and some one or two of the three groups benefit. The head of these groups at times may misrepresent them. A good case is the tripartite conferences held during the Marcos regime in the Philippines. Macaraya (1998) says that these conferences were used to pursue the labor-intensive and export-oriented (LIEO) strategy of development (Sale, 2003, pg. 1) which meant that policies were made to allow the employers to look for cheap labor to cut down the cost of production so as to make their product to be more competitive in the international markets (Sale, 2003, pg. 1). This means that the workers had to be underpaid with the implementation of this policy. Tripartism is meant to foster a good relationship between the three, by consulting, compromises can be made towards arriving at an agreement. In this case, the workers seemed sidelined by the decision. The policy wanted to obtain international dominance in trade at their expense.