Workers’ Unionism & Industrial RelationsOrigin & Development • In India, as in most other countries, has been the natural outcome of the modern factory system. • During the early period of industrial development, efforts towards organizing the workers for their welfare were made largely by social workers, philanthropists and other religious leaders, mostly on humanitarian grounds. • In 1875, a few social reformers under the leaderships of Sorabjee Shapurjee Bengalee, started an agitation in Bombay in order to draw the attention of the government to the appalling conditions of workers in factories, especially those of women and children, and to appeal to the authorities. • The outbreak of the First World War saw the beginning of the labour movement in the modern sense of the term. • The new upsurge of national movement in our country, the Russian Revolution of 1917, and the establishment of the international Labour organization(1919) were other important factors which contributed to the growth of the trade union movement during the period. • Between 1919 and 1923, scores of union came into existence, At Ahemdabad, under the spinners’ union and weavers’ union known as the Ahemdabad Textile Labour Association (Majur Mahajan). • The year 1920 was of crucial importance in the history of the Indian trade union movement. • The minimum requirement for central recognition of trade union is that the union should have a membership of at least five lakhs and should be spread over in four states and industries. Structure & Finance • In India, in the earliest stages, the general pattern of union was the plant level union. • Industry wise or area-wise union have been a later development. • Industrial unions have been organized mainly as a result of the need felt platform. • Trade unions covering all workers, irrespective of their craft or category, either at the plant to the industrial level, have become common in our country. • In general, in the industrial sector, unions are mostly organized at the enterprise level while in the service sector; there are industry-wide unions as, for example, railways, banking, insurance or government service. • The degree of unionism varies widely fro industry to industry. • The mushroom growth of unions was not accompanied by a proportionate growth in the total membership. • As a consequence, the total membership has been fragmented among too many unions leading to a significant decline in the average membership of individual unions.
• The fluctuating membership has a damaging impact on the financial state of unions. • Moreover, it is a major bottleneck in attaining a desirable degree of organizational effectiveness and viability. • As the N.C.L. observes, “ an important factor limiting the weakness… in most unions, poor finances have been the result of inadequate membership strength. This, in turn, can be traced to small size of units. In a majority of unions, the rate of contribution required of members is also small. With a relatively low rate of unionization, total funds collected are small…the general picture of finances of unions is disappointing.” Functions • The primary function of a trade union is to protect the basic interests and needs of the members by striving to better the terms and conditions of employment, secure for workers better wages and to improve their working and living conditions. • Welfare activities; organizing mutual benefits/ cooperative/ employment assistance/ games/ libraries/ cultural & recreational programmes. • To secure for workers fair wages • To sage guard securities of tenure. • To improve conditions of service. • To enlarge opportunities for promotion & training. • To improve working & living conditions. • To provide for education Facilities. • To cooperate in and facilitate technological advancement by broadening the understanding of workers on its underling issues. • To promote identity of interest of workers with their industry. • To offer responsive cooperation in improving levels of production & productivity, discipline & standard of quality. • To promote individual & collective welfare.Objectives of Trade Unions In modern times as follows: • To replace managerial dictatorship by workers’ democracy and to bring about a change in the social order. • The overthrow capitalism and bring about a revolutionary and fundamental change in the political order. • Organization of all eligible members under one platform. • To represent the workers to management in case of disputes or differences. • To enter in collective Bargaining and other agreements on behalf of workers. • To represent workers on various participative functions. • To undertake various activities for the welfare of its members. • To provide benefit to members in case of sickness, old age, trade disputes, unemployment, litigation and also provide funeral expenses. • Further Nance of political objectives.
• To participate in the work of any other association that furthers the activities of trade unions and its members. • To arrange the necessary activities for the social and morale up liftman of workers. • To arrange for printing and publishing facilities for the benefits of workers.State Legislations • National Commission on labour • The Maharashtra recognition of trade unions & prevention of unfair trade practices of Act 1971 • Bombay Industrial Act 1947 • Madhya Pradesh Industrial relations Act 1960Recognition • One of the burning problems in industrial relations facing our trade unions, government and employers for a pretty long tine is to evolve a satisfactory and commonly acceptable way to settle the competitive claims of rival unions for being declared as bargaining agents. • A trade union may be stable and strong but until it is given recognition – legally or voluntarily-it will hardly have any impact. • In fact, collective bargaining cannot exist or begin, until the union is recognized by the management. • As there is no central law for compulsory recognition of trade unions, the employers are not bound to recognize any union gets recognition, rival unions step in. • Even if an employer seeks to recognize a union, he finds himself in a dilemma as to which one to recognise and so is generally guided by his own whims and the political affiliations of the union. • This makes collective bargaining very difficult. • What is done by the union is sought to be undone by the other. No sooner than the ink is dry on an agreement, fresh issues are raised by the rival unions. • The workers also do not know which union to join, because they are not sure which on represents their collective interests. • Therefore, some workers choose to become members of more than one union. • Some of the state acts like the Bombay Industrial Relations Act, 1946, the Madhya Pradesh Industrial Relations Act, 1960, and the industrial Disputes (Rajasthan Amendment) Act, 1958, providing for the registration of unions as representative unions subject to their fulfilling certain conditions.
Some of the rights of a Representative Union under the Act areas follows:1-This has the first preference to appear or act in any proceeding under the Act as therepresentative of employees in an industry in any local area.2-No individual is to be permitted to appear in any in an proceedings wherein arepresentative Union has appeared as the representative of employees. Nor can a labourofficer appear in any proceedings in which the employees who are parties thereto arerepresented by a Representative Union.3-Any employer and a Representative Union or any other registered union may submit adispute for arbitration.4- This is entitled to make a special application to the labour court to hold an enquiry asto whether a strike, lock-out., is illegal.5-Management cannot dismiss, discharge or reduce any employee of such a union orpunish him in any other manner merely because he is an officer or member of theregistered union or a union which has applied for recognition under the Act.6-In the case of agreement, award etc., in which Representative Union is a party, the stateGovernment may, after giving the parties affected an opportunity of being heard, directheard, direct that such agreements, etc., shall be binding upon such other employers oremployees as may be specified. • The Maharashtra Recognition of Trade Unions and Prevention of Unfair Labour Practices Act, 1971 is a comprehensive piece of legislation since the passing of the Bombay Industrial Relations Act and the industrial Disputes Act of 1947. • This Act came into force from 8th September 1975. • It provides for (1)-Recognition of representative union which would act as an exclusive bargainingagent for an undertaking,(2)prevention of unfair labour practices on the part of employers and trade unions. • This act covers industries falling within the purview o the employers and trade unions. • This act covers industries falling Disputes Act. • The provisions relating to the recognition of unions do not, however, apply to he industries to which the provisions of the B.I.R. Act for the time being apply. • The act provides for recognition of unions for an undertaking employing 50 or more employees on the any day in the preceding twelve months. • The union having a minimum paid membership of 30 percent on the total number of employees employed in an undertaking for 6 calendar months preceding the months in which an application for a recognition is made, may apply to the Industrial Court for registration as a recognized union. • The calendar for recognition is granted by the Industrial Court after hearing all the interested parties. • The need for suitable provisions for recognition of unions was stressed in the second Five-Year Plan. Because of the desire to go slow on legislation, recognition was provided for, on a voluntary basis, under the Code of Discipline
adopted at the 6th Session of the Indian Labour Conference held at Nainital in May, 1958. • It laid down certain for the recognition of trade unions such as:1-Where there is more than one union, a union claiming recognition should have beenfunctioning for at least one year after registration. Where there is only one union, thiscondition would not apply.2-The membership of the union should cover at least 15th percent of workers in theestablishment concerned. Membership should be counted only of those who had paidtheir subscription for at least three months during the period of 6 months immediatelypreceding the reckoning;3-A union may claim to be recognized as representative union for an industry in a localarea if it has a membership of at least 25 percent of the workers of that industry in thatarea;4-When there are several unions in an industry or establishment, the one with the largestmembership should be recognized.5-When a union has been recognized there should be no change in its position for aperiod of 2 year.6-A representative union for an industry in an area should have the right to represent theworkers in all the establishments in the industry, but if a union of workers in a particularestablishment has a membership of 50percenty or more of the workers of thatestablishment, it should have the right to deal with matters of purely local interests. Workers Participation In Unions.Participation Refers to mental & emotional involvement of Workers in unions activities& it is more behaviorist rather than an attitudinal concept.Indicators of participations1-participation in unions elections2-membership enrolment & subscription3-membership on union committees4-Attending unions meetings5-Involvement in unions welfare & social responsibility & functions.Factors influencing WP in Unions1-The type of leadership is available in unions2-the history of labour management relations in a plant3-the age, experience, skills educations, caste, employment of workers.4- the style of supervision, motivation, morale, wage structure in the industry.5-Welfare measures & fringe benefits available to workers.Advantages of W.P in Unions1-W.P in union’s activities gives solidarity & strength to the unions.2-It helps in developing leadership from the rank & ensures a strong bargaining power.3- it checks the tendency on the part of selected leaders to become all powerful by avigilant & participative membership.
4-It is essential not only from the viewpoint of betterment of unions leaders but for thevery success of trade unionism. White collar UnionismHistory & Growth • Started with the end of second world war. • Activities boosted in the post war decades when the employees of central govt. dept., railways, post & telegraphs, defense, banking & insurance companies started organizing their unions. • Recent outstanding developments is the emergence of managerial or officers association in the industrial sectors commonly called as associations or Guilds.Factors responsible for White collar unionism • Substantial increase in white collar workers. • Erosion of the social & occupational status, not receiving the same kind of respect & special treatment from the employees. • Narrowing down of distance of income of blue collar workers & white collar workers due to bargaining activities of blue collar workers. • Proximity of white collar employees of well unionize blue collar workers.Recognition of white collar unionism in India • Unionization of white collar employees especially those belonging to the service & public sector has provoked varied reactions among employers, Govt. and general public. • General tendency on the part of the top management not to recognize the officer’s associations. • Situation demands to change the conservative & traditional outlook. Employers Associations • Effectiveness of any industrial relations system whether based on legislation or voluntary arrangements, depends to a great extent on the attitude that unions’ and employers’ organizations adopt towards each other. • The intention in covering employers’ organizations under the Trade unions Act, 1926 was to place both workers and employers’ organizations on a par in matters of rights and responsibilities. • the principal of giving equal representation to capital and labour on all consultative bodies like the Indian Labour Conference, Standing Labour Committee and industrial committees recognizes this basic tenet in the employer- employee relationship.
Origin & Growth The origin and development of employers’ organizations in India can broadly beclassified in three distinct phases:1-The period prior to 1930;2-The period between 1931 and 19463-the post- Independence period. • Each phase reveals their structural & functional characteristics, and also varying in them in accordance with contemporary economic, social and political developments. • The pre-1930 period was characterized mainly by the formation of certain associations such as the Bombay Miliowners’ Accociations, the Bengal Millowners’ Associations, and the Ahmedabad chambers of commerce and industrial associations for dealing with a variety of problems connected with industry. • All- India Organizations of Industrial Employers (AIOIE) was formed in 1941. • Employers’ organizations in India have a three- tier structure, such as local associations, industrial associations and all- India federations. • Of the three, the local associations which operate mainly through the chambers of commerce cover all industries in an area. • Their activities in the labour field are comparatively less expensive. • The industrial associations are the general pattern of organizations of employers in India. • They are formed at the area/ regional level as also at the all- India level, and are generally affiliated to the central industrial organizations at the apex. Individual employers are also admitted to the apex. • The main reason for the industry-wise development of associations is the common problems confronting each industry. • At the national level, there are federations, namely, AIOE, EFI and AIMO which have been given representation on different tripartite labour consultative bodies. • The AIMO is an omnibus multi-purpose body which represents the voice of small and medium size employers, but its membership is not necessarily restricted to them. • All the three federations have special committees to deal with specific problems. • Besides, they operate through their regional committees and maintain close links with the restrictive chambers as well.Aims & ObjectivesThe main object for which the EFI has been established are embodied in its constitution.1- “to promote and project the legitimate interests of employers engaged in industry,trade and commerce;2-to maintain harmonious relations between management and labour and to intimate andsupport all well-considered schemes that would increase productivity and at the sametime, give labour a fair share of the increased return;3-To collect and disseminate information affecting employers and to advise members ontheir employer/ employee relations and other ancillary problems.”
The objects of the AIOE inter alia are:1- “ to take all steps which may be necessary for promoting, supporting or opposinglegislative and other measures affecting ot likely to affect directly or indirectly,industries in general, or particular industries;2- to nominate delegates and advisers etc. to represent the employers of India at theInternational Labour Conference, United Nations Organization, International Chamber ofCommerce and other conferences and committees affecting the interests of trade,commerce and industries, whether as employers or otherwise;3-To promote and support all well-considered schemes for the general uplift of labourand to take all possible steps to established harmonious relations between capital andlabour.”The objects of AIMO are:1-To help bring about the rapid industrialization of the country through sound andprogressive economic policies;2- to help in increasing the aggregate wealth of India;3- to raise the standard of living of the people of India by utilizing to the fullest possibleto play a positive role in relieving the pressure of polulation on land.” Functions • Communication • Advisory Functions • Educational Efforts • Representational Functions • Functions of Social Responsibilities Development of trade unions in India • The origin of Trade Union movement can be traced back to a very early date to the time when villages had punchayats and guilds for settlings disputes between the masters and their members. • The panchayats prescribed the code of conduct, which was rigidly followed by its members. • Trade Unions, however, originated in the first quarter of the present century although the groundwork was laid during the last quarter of the 19th century.
For the purpose of studying history of development of trade unions in India, time period can be divided into various phases, which are as follows: A-Social Welfare Period(1875 to 1918) • This period witnessed growth of industries as well exploitation of women and child labour and unhealthy work conditions. • Conditions were taking a bad shape as days passed by but there was no sign of opposition from the side of workers. • In addition to it there was no attempt at obtaining redress through concerted effort. • The labour movement in India began around 1850. Few enactments which marked the beginning of trade unions movement in India are:1-The factory Commission in 18752-The factories Act, 18813- The Second Bombay Factory Commission in 1884. • The labour movement in India was commenced by Bombay Millhands association in 1890. The purpose of this movement was to provide a platform to workers where there grievances could be foreword to management and to draw public attention to the cause of labour.This movement was followed by formation of various groups which were running in thesimilar lines:1-The Amalgamated society of Railway servants of India.2-The Bombay postal unions.3-The social service league4-the printers’ union of calcutta5-Promote welfare activities6-Spread literacy among the factory workers andRedress grievances thriugh constitutional methods.These associations were not exactly Trade Unions but they carved the way for formationof trade unions. B-Early Trade Unions Period (1918 to 1924): • The year 1918 holds significance for Indian Trade Unions Movements. • It was the year when leadership of trade unions passed from hands of social workers to the hands of politicians. • By this time various unions were formed, some of them are:1-Indian Seamen’s unions,2-the Punjab press employees Association,3-The madras textile labour unions, • It was estimated that between 2.5 and 5.00 lakh were organized into unions by this time. • Various political; leaders were also actively involved in the activities of trade unions, some key figures are C.R Das, Moti Lal Nehru, J.L Nehru, S.C Bose.
• However, unions formed suffered from various limitations, they had little continuity and there major interests lied on wage increment. C-Left Wing Unionism Period(1924-1934):This period saw tremendous growth of trade unions.But the three major Trade Unions which emerged strongly during this time were:1-AITUC, all India Trade Unions Congress led by militant nationalists.2-AITUF, all India Trade Unions Federation, led by congress nationalists and moderates,3-RTUC, Red Trade Unions Congress, led by certain orthodox communities. D-Trade Union’s Unity Period(1935-1938) • During this period initiative were taken by All-India Railways Federation to provide unity to trade union movement this federation in its conference formed a trade union committee in Bombay in 1932. • The committee adopted a platform of unity under which it was conceived by all that trade union is an organ of class struggle whose basic task is to organize workers for advancing and defending their rights and interests . • It was also realized that representation, negotiation and other methods of collective bargaining are an integral part of the activities of trade unions. E-Second World War Period(1939-1945)- • Second world war had tremendous impact on trade union activity India. • One of the major changes was related to their ability to participate in negotiations with employers and government. • The Second World War, which started in 1939, added new dimensions to trade union movement in India. • During the war time various factors plated an important role in enhancing status of the trade unions in the country in the country, • Some of them are:1-The government as well as employers launched a number of labour welfare measureswith a view to increase production of war material and other essential goods and maintainhigh profits.2-Recognition of trade unions was accorded by many employers.This fact gave moralstrength to trade unions.3-Ban was placed on strikes and lockouts, during the war time and all disputes werereferred to adjudication.4-A tripartite labour conference was convened in 1942, to provide a common platform fordiscussion and mutual understanding between labour and employees. F-Post independence period (from 1947 to date)- • Post independence period in India several strong changes in trade union movement of India. • There was a tremendous increase in the number of trade unions and those of which existed turned out be more conscious and award of their rights and emerged strongly.
• As mentioned earlier this period experienced rapid changes in trade union movement in India.The most important factors being:1-The constant influence of outside and international happenings.2-The pressure of trade union rivalries.3-Government’s Industrial Relations Policy with its provision for compulsoryadjudication machinery.4-The enhancement of labour laws conferring special privileges on registered tradeunions.5-Desire of workers to unite for safeguard their interest.6-Attempts made by some employers to set up unions under their influence.Study of Four Original Central Organizations 1-INTUC(Indian National Trade Union Congress)Origin: • Came into existence on 4th May 1948,as a result of the resolution passed on 17th November 1947,by the central board of the Hindustan Mazdoor Sevak Sangh.Objectives: • It aims at the sarvodaya ideal and stands for gradual transformation of the existing social order. • It aims at establishing a socialist state in India. • It aims at placing industry under national ownership and control in a suitable form in order to realise the desired order of society.Methods Used: • These strike is like a “Brahmastra” and is not to be resorted to in a light-hearted manner and made cheap and blunt. Political Affiliation: • Affiliated with the Indian Natinal Congress (the ruling party). • Its relations with the government are based on the mutuality. 2-AITUC(All India Trade Union Congress)Origin: • It was established in 1920 as a result of a resolution passed by the organized workers of Bombay & the delegates, which met in a conference on 31st October 1920.Objectives: • It strives to establish a socialist society, but through radical means. • It aims at socializing & nationalizing all means of production, distribution & exchange as far as possible.
Methods Used: • Strives for socialization & nationalization of the means of production, distribution & exchange,but by more radical & violent means. • It believes in class struggle, though it may resort to all types of methods to resolve disputes including collective bargaining. Political Affiliation: • Is pro-communist. • Led by the right CPI. • Attitude towards government is not entirely hostile, but of course highly critical of the government. • It cooperates with the government in the public sector in order to build the nation. 3-BMS(Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh)Origin: • It has been the outcome of decision taken by the Jana Sangh in its convention at Bhopal on 23rd July,1954. Its Journal Secrertary is the Veteran Labour Leader D.P. Thengadi. • Objectives: • The right to strike. • To assist workers in organizing themselves in trade unions as a medium of service to the motherland irrespective of faith & political affinities.Methods used: • Tries to achieve its objectives through all legitimate,peaceful & democratic methods. • It emphasises on “non – violence”.Political Affiliation: • Is affiliated to the BJP and is broadly of Swadeshi orientation. • Very critical of the privileged position of the INTUC and is not generally favourable to the communist. 4-UTUC(United Trade Union Congress)Origin: • Some trade union leaders of the socialist bent met together in December 1948 to form a new Central Organization of Labour called Hindu Mazdoor Sangh. This committee called for the meeting of the various leaders at Calcutta on April 30th, 1949.Objectives: • To establish socialist society in India. • To establish a worker’s & peasants state in India. • To bring about unity in the trade union movement.Methods used:
• UTUC was created with the avowed purpose of liberating the Labour movement of its political affiliations. • Is radical in nature. • Non-communist and anti-intuc.Political Affiliation: • It is radical, non-communist and anti-intuc. • It is led by some independent trade union leaders, the Forward Block and the Revolutionary Socialist Party. • Problems of trade unions • Uneven growth (industry wise & area wise). • Small size of unions. • Financial weakness. • Multiplicity of unions & inter-union rivalry. • Leadership issue. • Politicalisation of unions. • Problem of recognition of trade unions.