ANNOTATED OUTLINE 25-2 INTRODUCTION A trade union is a formal association of workers, acting collectively, who seek to protect and promote their mutual interests through collective action Trade Unions And Employers’ Associations Features
It is an association of employees or employers or of independent workers
It is a relatively permanent formation of workers
It is formed to secure certain economic benefits to members
It emphasizes joint, coordinated action and collective bargaining
Craft union: It is a union whose members done type of work, often using specialised skills and training.
Industrial union: It is a union that includes many persons working in the same industry or company regardless of jobs held.
General union: This type of union consists of workers employed in different industries and crafts within a particular city or region.
Federation: It is a group of autonomous, national and international unions
Structure Of Trade Unions Trade Unions And Employers’ Associations
25-5 Growth Of Trade Union Movement And Membership Trade Unions And Employers’ Associations
Early period: Social workers, philanthropists, religious leaders led the movement, mostly, on humanitarian grounds. After the Factories Act, 1881 was passed, important unions sprouted up slowly.
Modest beginning: The outbreak of World War! and the subsequent economic, political and social conditions influenced the growth of trade union movement. The establishment of ILO in 1919 helped formation of several unions between 1919 and 1923.
All India Trade Union Congress: The AITUC was formed in 1920 followed by the establishment of All India Railwaymen's Federation in 1922. Unions began to adopt militant postures to achieve their demands. Splits and mergers were quite common. The influence of political parties was quite significant.
Current status: It has been a long and arduous road for the trade union movement in India, a past boasting of prominent national leaders at centre stage, to militant presence till 1990s and a painful process of fighting for survival till 2000 and an uncertain future in the midst of tumultuous economic, social, political and technological changes.
25-6 The Legal Framework The Trade Union Act, 1926 legalises the formation of trade unions by any seven persons employed in a unit quite easily. A registered union has certain advantages to its credit. Due to inter union and intra union rivalry, it is not easy to carry out negotiations with a recognised union in India. The Act, of course, has not cleared the fog either. Trade Unions And Employers’ Associations
25-7 The Bombay Industrial Relations Act, 1946, classified the registered unions as: i. Representative union having a membership of not less than 25% of the total employees as members in an industry; ii. Qualified union having at least 5% of membership in an industry; and iii. Primary union having a membership of at least 15% of employees in an undertaking. The rights of a Representative union under the Act are: a. First preference to appear or act in any proceedings under the Act as the representative of employees; b. Right to submit a dispute for arbitration; c. To make a special application to the Labour Court to hold an inquiry; and d. Office-bearers of the union cannot be dismissed or discharged. Trade Unions And Employers’ Associations Union recognition: criteria and rights
25-8 Collective bargaining can succeed only when the employer recognises a trade union as the sole bargaining agent (in a multi-union situation) and agrees to negotiate with it on various issues affecting the lives of workers. A union may be strong, having a large majority of workers standing by its side, but unless it is recognised by the employer it will not be able to deliver the goods. If the employer refuses to recognise such a fact, for any reason whatsoever, it may not be able to obtain any concessions for its members. Denial of recognition to a union enjoying majority may lead both parties to a tug-of-war situation, seriously impacting industrial activities. Since there is no Central Law for compulsory recognition of unions, the employers are free to recognise any union of their own choice. In a multi-union situation the employer is compelled to verify the claims of contending unions in a careful way, following the procedure recommended by the 16th Tripartite Labour Conference, 1958. The employer, by and large, is also free to grant recognition to any union, purely guided by his whims or political strength of the union. Trade Unions And Employers’ Associations Employer decides everything?
When multiple unions exit, the union claiming recognition should be functioning for at least one year after recognition
The membership of the union should cover at least 15% of workers in the establishment
To be recognised as a representative union for an industry in a local area, the union should have membership of at least 25 per cent of workers in that area
In case of multiple unions in an establishment or industry, the one with the largest membership should be recognised.
Trade Unions And Employers’ Associations The Legal Framework
25-10 Verification of trade union membership The majority character of a union is not easy to decide because of claims and counter claims from warring factions. Proper membership records, often, are not available. There is the problem of common names appearing in the registers of more than one union. Union leaders often divide workers along caste, community, religion, linguistic and regional lines. The check off system (whereby members pay their respective fee directly into the account of the union concerned) is offered as a viable alternative to solve the knotty issue. Trade Unions And Employers’ Associations The Legal Framework
25-11 Problems Of Trade Unions The factors responsible for the ever-growing list of problems faced by trade unions in India may be recounted thus: Trade Unions And Employers’ Associations
Trade union leadership: Outside leaders have hijacked the trade union movement right from the beginning. Absence of strong leaders from the ranks of workers, inability to represent the woes of workers in a forceful manner, the presence of towering political personalities willing to serve the cause of workers, the illiteracy of workers, by and large, contributed to this peculiar phenomenon.
Weakening of the overall goals for which unions existed
Coming in the way of nurturing strong leaders from the ranks of workers
Inability to understand the problems of workers
Inhibiting the development of one union in one industry
Personal agendas of leaders gaining priority over workers' overall interests
Trade Unions And Employers’ Associations
Multiple unions: This came in the way of a healthy and democratic growth of labour movement in the country. The small size, naturally, affected the bargaining powers of the union severely.
25-13 Trade Unions And Employers’ Associations The Legal Framework
Union rivalry: The inter-union and intra-union rivalry helped the cause of the employer more than that of workers. The warring factions, consequently, had very little time to put up a joint, coordinated fight before employers even under extremely trying conditions.
Financial woes: The membership fee is pathetically low. There were very few opportunities to raise funds otherwise. To keep workers in good humour, often, unions had to organised functions and programmes, out of merciful grants offered by employers. This had a telling effect on their bargaining powers.
Other problems: Illiteracy, low membership, heterogeneous nature of labour, lack of interest on the part of a large majority of workers, absence of paid office bearers etc were some of the other problems faced by trade unions.
25-14 Of late, trade unions have been pushed to the wall due to factors such as: global competition, restructuring exercises carried out by companies from time to time just to survive, rising costs of manufacturing, lack of support from the general public and the government; privatisation, failure to deliver results in case of a prolonged battle etc. Trade Unions And Employers’ Associations Current Trends In Trade Unionism Reasons for the Paradigm shift
Militancy does not
Political base shrinking
Public sympathy disappearing
Jobs vanishing at an alarming rate
Membership figures sinking
25-15 Measures to strengthen trade union movement In order to strengthen the trade union movement in the country, there is an urgent need to improve trade union finances, develop leaders from the ranks of workers, recognise a bargaining agent on the basis of strong membership figures, promote one union one industry policy, strict criteria for recognising a representative union , strong political support for labour-related issues etc. Trade Unions And Employers’ Associations
25-16 Employers’ Associations Trade Unions And Employers’ Associations Employers’ associations are formed, primarily, to promote and protect the interests of employers in trade and industry. Objectives Employers’ Associations are formed to promote and protect interests of employers in trade and industry. They are “formal groups of employers set up to defend, represent or advise affiliated employers”. They perform several important functions: Primary a. Promote and protect the interests of employers engaged in industry, trade and commerce in India. b. Study, analyse and disseminate information relating to labour policy, labour- management relations, collective bargaining, etc. c. Offer advice concerning various aspects of labour policy. d. Liaise with Union Government and initiate steps that are representative and legislative in nature. Cont…
25-17 Secondary e. Train and develop staff and members. f. Obtain data on wages and conditions of work in industries attached to them. g. Come out with surveys, research-based reports on issues of importance to both labour and management. h. Take up projects for social and family welfare. i. Deal with safety and health at work place and working environment. j. Initiate steps to improve public image and improve public relations. k. Educate the public regarding the character, scope, importance and needs of trade, industry and commerce represented by members. Trade Unions And Employers’ Associations Employers’ Associations
25-18 Trade Unions And Employers’ Associations