TOPICS TO BE COVERED
• History (In India)
• Development of modern industry, especially in
the Western countries, can be traced back to
the 18th century. Industrial development in India
on Western lines, however commenced from the
middle of the 19th century. The first organised
Trade Union in India named as the Madras
Labour Union was formed in the year 1918.
Since then a large number of unions sprang up
in almost all the industrial centres of the country.
Similarly, entrepreneurs also formed their
organisations to protect their interests.
• Trade Unions are the groups set-up with the aim
of trying to create fairness and job security in a
• Section 2(h) of the Trade Union Act,1926 has
define a trade union as:
“Any combination, whether temporary or
permanent, former primarily for the purpose of
regulating the relation between workman and
workmen or between employers, or for imposing
restrictive conditions on the conduct of any trade
or business, and includes any federation of two
or more trade unions.
Features of trade unions:
I. It is an organisation formed by employees or
II. It is formed on a continuous basis. It is a
permanent body and not a casual or temporary one.
III. It is formed to protect and promote all kinds of
interests –economic, political and social-of its
members. The dominant interest with which a union
is concerned is, however, economic.
IV. It includes federations of trade unions also.
V. It achieves its objectives through collective
action and group effort.
What are trade unions?
• Trade unions are organisations that represent people at work. Their
purpose is to protect and improve people's pay and conditions of
employment. They also campaign for laws and policies which will
benefit working people.
• Trade unions exist because an individual worker has very little power
to influence decisions that are made about his or her job. By joining
together with other workers, there is more chance of having a voice
• All sorts of jobs and industries are covered by trade unions. Some
unions represent people who do a particular job or work in a specific
industry - for example, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), as its
name suggests, represents journalists, and the Union for Finance Staff
(UNIFI) is made up of people who do different jobs in the financial
• Other unions include a mixture of people in different jobs and sectors.
The biggest unions in Britain - the GMB, UNISON and the Transport
and General Workers Union (TGWU) represent people working in a
range of different occupations and industries in the public and private
sectors. Often this is because unions have merged with other unions
so that they can increase their membership and their influence.
What do unions do?
• The main service a union provides for its
members is negotiation and
representation. There are other benefits
people get from being members of trade
• Information and advice
• Member services
Negotiation is where union representatives discuss with
management issues which affect people working in an organisation.
The union finds out the members' views and relays these views to
management. There may be a difference of opinion between
management and union members. 'Negotiation' is about finding a
solution to these differences. This process is also known as
In many workplaces there is a formal agreement between the union
and the company which states that the union has the right to
negotiate with the employer. In these organisations, unions are said
to be 'recognised' for 'collective bargaining' purposes.
Pay, working hours, holidays and changes to working practices are
the sorts of issues that are negotiated. People who work in
organisations where unions are recognised are better paid and are
less likely to be made redundant than people who work in
organisations where unions are not recognised.
Trade unions also represent individual members when they
have a problem at work. If an employee feels they are being
unfairly treated, he or she can ask the union representative to
help sort out the difficulty with the manager or employer.
If the problem cannot be resolved amicably, the matter may go
to an industrial tribunal. Industrial tribunals make sure that
employment laws are properly adhered to by employees and
employers. They are made up of people outside the workplace
who listen to the employer's and the employee's point of view
and then make a judgement about the case. People can ask
their union to represent them at industrial tribunals. Most cases
that go to industrial tribunals are about pay, unfair dismissal,
redundancy or discrimination at work.
Unions also offer their members legal representation. Normally
this is to help people get financial compensation for work-
related injuries or to assist people who have to take their
employer to court
Unions have a wealth of information which is useful
to people at work. They can advise on a range of
issues like how much holiday you are entitled to
each year, how much pay you will get if you go on
maternity leave, and how you can obtain training at
Information and advice
During the last ten years, trade unions have increased the range
of services they offer their members. These include:
Education and training - Most unions run training courses for their
members on employment rights, health and safety and other
issues. Some unions also help members who have left school with
little education by offering courses on basic skills and courses
leading to professional qualifications.
Legal assistance - As well as offering legal advice on employment
issues, some unions give help with personal matters, like housing,
wills and debt.
Financial discounts - People can get discounts on mortgages,
insurance and loans from unions.
Welfare benefits - One of the earliest functions of trade unions
was to look after members who hit hard times. Some of the older
unions offer financial help to their members when they are sick or
Why do workers join unions
• Greater Bargaining Power
• Makes their voice heard
• Minimise discrimination
• Sense of security
• Sense of Participation
• Sense of Belongingness
Reasons Why Employees JoinReasons Why Employees Join
• Social pressureSocial pressure
• Political beliefsPolitical beliefs
• Pay and conditionsPay and conditions
• Health and safetyHealth and safety
CRITICISM OF TRADE UNION BY
• Lack of education
• May not welcome change
• Strick on Illogical basis
• Creation of Artificical scanity of labour
• Undue demands relating to wages
Type of Union Description / Example
Craft of skills
To represent skilled workers e.g. Musicians
To represent the members of one particular
industry e.g. Fire Brigades Union
Unions which recruit workers from all types
of industries and with any level or range of
skills e.g. Amicus – the Manufacturing
Science and Finance Union (MSF)
Represent office workers e.g. National Union
of Teachers (NUT)
1. Reformist Unions
• Business Unions
• Friendly Unions
2. Revolutionary unions
• Political unions
• Anarchist unions
Another way of
STRUCTURE OF TRADE UNIONS
• Plant level Federations
• Local level Federations
• Regional Level Federations
• National Level Federations
Unions structure diagram
• Union Members
• Shop Stewards (Union
• Branches District and Regional Offices
• National Office
• Trade unions are democratic organisations which are
accountable to their members for their policies and
actions. Unions are normally modelled on the following
• Members - people who pay a subscription to belong to a
• Shop stewards - sometimes called union representatives
- who are elected by members of the union to represent
them to management
• Branches - which support union members in different
organisations locally. There is usually a branch secretary
who is elected by local members
• District and/or regional offices - these are usually staffed
by full time union officials. These are people who are
paid to offer advice and support to union members
• A national office - the union's headquarters which offers
support to union members and negotiates or campaigns
for improvements to their working conditions. At the top
of the organisation there is usually a General Secretary
and a National Executive Committee, elected by the
TRADE UNIONS ACT
• Trade Unions Act, 1926 provides for the
registration of the Trade Unions with the
Registrars of Trade Unions of their territory. Any
seven or more members of a trade union by
submitting their names to the registrar of trade
unions and otherwise complying with the
provisions of the Act with respect to registration
may apply for the registration of the Trade Union
under the Trade Unions Act. The Act gives
protection to registered trade unions in certain
cases against civil and criminal action.
• AIBOC - All India Bank Officers Confederation
• AISGEF - All India State Government Employees
• Center of Indian Trade Unions - Major trade union
• Hind Mazdoor Sabha - Membership, objectives and
trade union situation
• Indian National Trade Union Congress - History,
aims, objectives and activities
• NCOA - National Confederation of Officer's
Association of Central Publid Sector Undertakings
• Organized Labour - Article on role of organized
labour and trade unions in economic liberalization
• PWTUC - Professional Workers Trade Union Centre
• Trade Union India - Trade union international of
public and allied employees
Four important central organisations of workers in India are
1. The Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC).
The Congress Party and the top congress leaders formed
the INTUC like Nehru and Patel were associated with it.
Every union affiliated to INTUC has to submit its dispute to
arbitration after exhausting other means of settlement
2. The All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC). This
union serves as the labour forum of Communist Party of
India at present. It is considered as the second largest
union in India.
3. The Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS). It was formed in
Calcutta by the socialists who neither approved INTUC
nor AITUC. The HMS was organised with a view to
keeping its members free from any political or other
4. The United Trade Union Congress (UTUC). Those
persons who were dissident socialist formed it. It
functions mainly in Kerala and West Bengal.
5. Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU). The Marxists
separated from the AITUC in May 1970 and formed the
In addition to the above, there are four other
central trade union organisations. They are:
• Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS)
• National Labour Organisation (NLO)
• National Front of Indian Trade Unions
• Trade Union Congress Committee
PROBLEMS AND WEAKNESS OF
• Uneven growth
• Limited membership
• Multiplicity of unions
• Outside leadership
• Financial problems
• Indifferent attitude of workers
How are trade unions financed?
• Each trade union member pays a subscription. The
amount varies from union to union and is normally set at
different levels according to the amount people earn. It is
usually between £5 and £8 a month. Some unions
reduce the fees for unemployed members.
• People pay their subscription fees in different ways. It
may be collected by direct debit from a bank account,
deducted directly from wages or paid in cash or by
cheque to a union representative or full time official.
• In exchange, members receive the benefits of
representation, negotiation, protection and other services
from their union.
How do trade unions recruit their members?
Different unions cover different jobs and industries. People are able to join the
most appropriate union for their job or sector.
People are recruited to unions in different ways. Most people find out about the
union by talking to colleagues at the workplace and then make direct contact
with the union. Others are contacted by the union representative who gives them
information about the union and tells them how to join. Some employers and
personnel officers tell employees about the union when they start working for the
Unions are stepping up their efforts to attract new members. Some are using
adverts in newspapers and magazines, television commercials and leaflets as
part of high profile recruitment campaigns. The target for these efforts is often
people who work part time, in temporary jobs or in small organisations where in
the past union membership has not been very high.
Begun in 1998, the 'New Unionism' project aimed to boost Trade Union
membership, especially in newly-emerging industries and amongst members of
the population who have been under-represented traditionally in the trade
unions. The project set up new union roles of Academy Organisers who were
trained intensively for 12 months in order to work as specialist union organisers.
Research was carried out by Cardiff Business School in 2003 into the project's
effectiveness; the resulting report is The Organising Academy - five years on.
How has trade union
membership changed in recent
• In 2003, union membership in Britain, estimated from the
Labour Force Survey, was 7.42 million. The proportion of
all employees who were union members was 29.1%.
These are the overall figures but union membership
varies enormously by industry and by the types of jobs
that people do.
• Trade union membership has declined over the last two
decades. In 1979 13.3 million people were members of
trade unions and the proportion of employees who were
union members stood at 55%. A
comparison of membership data for the period 1992-
2003 can be seen on the ONS Web site.
Trade unions negotiate pay and conditions for people in a
wide range of occupations.
There are several reasons for this fall in membership,
•a dramatic fall in the number of jobs in manufacturing
industries where union membership was traditionally high
•larger numbers of unemployed people
•a fall in traditional full time employment and an increase in
part time and temporary workers who are less likely to join
•an increase in the proportion of the workforce employed
by small companies where it is often difficult for unions to
•hostile legislation - the previous Conservative government
introduced laws which make it more difficult for unions to
operate and keep their members.
However, trade union membership is still quite high and
many people are employed in workplaces where unions
are recognised by management for negotiating pay and
conditions of employment.
There is also evidence that the decline in union
membership is beginning to slow up. The TUC has
launched a major recruitment drive called 'New
Unionism - Organising for Growth' and many unions are
stepping up their efforts to recruit in new industries and
jobs. More and more people are turning to trade unions
because they want the protection they can provide
SUGGESTIONS FOR HEALTHY
GROWTH OF UNIONS
• One Union Per Industry
• Paid Union Officials
• Development of Internal Leadership
• Recognition of Trade Unions
• Improved Financial condition