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Chapter No. 6 Industrial Relations and Trade Unionism - Approaches to Trade UnionIn our last lecture we have discussed Historical Evolution and Aspects of TradeUnion in India. In our lecture of date we will discuss different theories of trade union.There is no unanimity among industrial relations experts with respect of theevolutionary aspect of trade union, so accordingly, a vide varieties of ideologies havebeen proposed, each projecting a distinct point of view. In fact, the purpose of theideologies, approaches or theories is to high light the basic factors that led to thegrowth of trade unions. According to John. T. Dunlop, any ideology pertaining to theevolution of trade union seeks to answer queries like: - i) What factors led to the growth of trade union at early stages ii) What conditions favoured the formation of unions? iii) What are the patterns of growth and development in different industries and geographical areas where union are found? iv) What are the ultimate goals of trade union? How do they affect the political, economic and social structure of the country in long run? Arthur . d. butler adds two more questions namely :- 1. How do unions decide which goals to seek through collective bargaining? 2. How do the unions decide the technique to use in accomplishing their goals?The answer of these questions lies in different theories, which will discuss in ensuingclass lectures. The theories are as under:- 1. Marxian Class Struggle Theory 2. Webb’s theory of Industrial Democracy 3. Cole’s theory of Industrial Unionism 4. Hoxies theory of business union 5. Tannenabum’s anti-technology theory 6. Common’s pragmatic approach 7. Pearlman’s theory of scarcity consciousness 8. Kerr and Associates protest theory 9. Mahatama Gandhi Sarvodya theory. 1. Marxian class struggle theory. The growth of socialistic ideas has been another important force for organised labour movement. According to Karl Marx :
i) the fight for power by proletarian class (workers) to overthrow the capitalist class ii) Marx traced the origin of trade unionism to the growth of industrial capitalism iii) Trade union represents a prime instrument for class struggle iv) Labor organization provides the locus of the working class towards change in the structure of the society because with the emergence of trade union movement the decay of capitalist would be inevitable. v) Motives which drive workers into joining trade union are economic insecurity, political exploitation and social degradation.Webb’s theory of Industrial Democracy – The husband wife team of Sydney Webband Beatrice Webb (dominant leaders of labour party of Britain) emphasized that:-i) trade unionism is an extension of democracy from, political sphere to that of industry and to overcome the danger of managerial dictatorship .ii) Trade unionism is not an instrument for revolutionary to overthrow of the capitalist order but on the contrary, is a mean of equalizing the bargaining power of labour and capital and thus encouraging the adoption common rules which are practical and humane.iii) placed major emphasis upon the adverse effects of competition.iv) In the “Higgling’ market the ruthless struggle for commercial and industrial survival based on the competitive prices with the long chain of pressure extending from consumer through retailer—whole seller—manufacturer.v) provide their member minimum rate of wages, minimum working condition, in terms of hours—sanitation---safety etc.vi) union movement is not an instrument of revolution to overthrow the capitalist order. It is merely to eliminate industrial autocracy and replace it with industrial democracy.vii) Webb advocated the method of mutual insurance, collective bargaining and legal enactment.Cole’s Theory of Industrial Unionism and Control of IndustryThe views of Cole’s were published in “The World of Labour” in 1913. Cole’s hasvisualized that in future the goal of labour is something more than the Webb’srepresentation of interest of workers and something less than the Marxian dictatorship
of the proletariat. Cole has suggested that ‘control of industry’ should be by the true[producers i.e. the workers . in partnership with the state.The principle of union development necessary to this end is industrial unionism, ofwhich Cole was leading profounder.He said that the class struggle is preached not on the ground that is desirable, but onethe ground that is monstrous.Social-Psychological Approach of Robert F.HoxieAccording to Hoxie, the trade union grew out of the socio-psychological environmentof the workers and not purely because of economic reasons. He observed “Workersare economically and socially associated and too divergent and training will tend todevelop a common interpretation of the social situation and a common solution of theproblem of living. Hoxie has classified union according to their structural andfunctional operations such as:- 1. Business Unionism also known as the Bread and Butter unionism – These unions are trade conscious rather then class conscious. They accept the existing economic system and aim at bringing about improvement in the wages and working conditions of their members. Collective bargaining is the usual method of achieving their goal. 2. Friendly or Uplift Unionism- Such unions are idealistic in nature and elevate the moral, social and intellectual life of the workers. To achieve their aim these union advocate use of political methods such as setting of cooperative enterprises, profit sharing, mutual insurance etc. 3. Revolutionary Unionism- Such unions are extremely radical both view point and in action. They are distinctly class conscious rather then trade consciousness. They aim at replacing the capitalistic system by socialistic system. They believe in political action or direct action in the form of strikes, boycotts, sabotage and violence. 4. Predatory Unionism – Unions of these types does not subscribe to any ideology. Such unions are characterized by their ruthless pursuit of immediate ends. They use collective bargaining, secret bribery and violence to settle their dispute. Gangsters dominate it. 5. Dependent Unionism – Such type of union is dependent on the support of workers or other labour groups. This type of union appears in two forms – Company Union and Label Union. The former depend entirely on employer
whereas the second type depends upon the label imprinted on the products made by the union members.Tannenbaum’s Anti-Technology Theory- According to Tannenbaum, machine is thecenter of gravity in present day industrial community because the emergence of tradeunion is linked with the dominance of machinery. The trade union movement aims atcontrol over the machinery so as to overcome insecurity.Common’s Pragmatic Approach – The theory of Common is based mostly onenvironmental factors. That is why it is called “environmental theory of labourmovement”. Common regarded the labour movement in America as delayed due tofollowing factors: i) Free Land ii) Tremendous expansion of markets iii) Effect of the new competition upon labour movement iv) Immigration with its influx of races, nationalities and languagesCommon observed that the above factors had positive correlation with the rise andfall of union activity.Perlman’s Theory of Scarcity Consciousness –Selig Perlman wrote extensively on labour movement and being the author of “AHistory of Trade Unionism in United States”(1922) and “A Theory of LabourMovement”(1928). According to Perlman the trade unionism developed because tothe worker’s scarcity consciousness. This arose in the minds of workers because ofthe fact that their economic position cannot improve beyond that which is barelysufficient to cover minimum essential of an ordinary standard of living.The unionestablished certain job rights which is rationale.Kerr and Associate’s Protest Theory - Kerr, Dunlop etc observed that the workerprotest is inherent in industrialisation. These authors used the more general term‘labour organisation’ in place of trade union.Kerr and Associates feel that the leadership of industrialisation process is taken byone of the five ideal types, namelyDynastic Elite – the unions undertake social function at the plant level and indulge inpolitical activities challenging the workers.The Middle Class – the union undertakes the regulation of management at the locallevel as well as independent political activity, which does not challenge the workers.
The Revolutionary Intellectuals- union’s main function is to act as an instrument ofthe party to educate and lead the workers.The Colonial Administrators – nationalist and independence leaders and intellectualleaders with large following provide the leadership of such union. Ideologically suchunions are anti colonial and fight for independence.Nationalist elites- Ideologically the unions are nationalist and nationalist leadersprovide the leadership.Mahatma Gandhi Sarvodaya TheoryMahatma Gandhi’s philosophy is based upon the ‘Sarvodaya’ principle of Truth,Non-violence and trusteeship in which class harmony prevails. Gandhiji has putemphasis on :- i) Union are not anti-capitalist organization ii) Union fights for the workers for ‘rightfully due to the workers’ iii) Union is reformist organization and economic institution iv) Capital and labour are not antagonistic but are supplement to each other. v) Gandhiji preached the union leader to undertake programme for teaching supplementary occupations to labour so that uncertainty of unemployment during strike period may be reduced.Gandhi was not against strike. During the strike of Textile Worker at Ahemdabad hesaid that the strike was “inherent right of the working men for the purpose of securingjustice, but the strike must be considered a crime immediately the capitalist accept theprinciple of arbitration. According to Gandhiji the strike could succeeds if followingconditions are fulfilled: - 1. The cause of the strike must be just 2. Workers should go on strike if capitalist does not respond moral appeal before strike and other approached are exhausted. 3. Strike should be resorted if period of fair notice has expired 4. The Strike should be peaceful and non-violent. 5. There should be practical unanimity amongst the workers