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UNIT 27

Trade Union
In an organisation the employees will have to remain untied to safeguard their interests. Lack of unity among the employees may give scope for certain unscrupulous employers to exploit the former. The force that binds the employees of an organisation together is what is known as a trade union. UNITED WE STAND AND DIVIDED WE FALL is the basic philosophy of the trade union movement. This Chapter is devoted to a discussion on trade unions. Trade Union Meaning A trade union is essentially an association of employees of a particular trade or industry formed to safeguard the interests of its members against certain vindictive management actions. It enables the employees to act together as an individual employee is in a weak bargaining position to negotiate with the employer. Definitions Given below are some of the important definitions of a trade union: 1. A trade union is a continusing, along term association of employees, formed and maintained for the specific purpose of advancing and protecting the interests of members in their working relationships Dale Yoder.

2. A union is a continuous association of person in industry whether employees or independent workers formed primarily for the purpose of the pursuit of the interests of its members of its members of the trade they represent Punekar. 3. Trade union is any combination whether temporary or permanent formed primarily for the purpose of regulating the relations between workmen and employers or between workmen, between employers and employers or for imposing restrictive conditions on the conduct of any trade or business and include any federation of two more trade unions The Indian Trade Union Act,1926. An analysis of the above definitions may bring out the following characteristics of a trade union: 1. Association of Employees A trade union is essentially an association of employees belonging to a particular class of employment, profession, trade or industry. For example, there are unions for teachers, doctors, film artistes, weavers, mine workers and so on. 2. Voluntary Association An employee joins the trade union of his free will. A person cannot be compelled to join a union. 3. Permanent Body A trade union is usually a permanent body. Members may come and go but the trade union remains. 4. Common Interest Te members of a trade union have certain matters of common interest job security, better pay and working conditions and so on, which bring them together. 5. Collective Action Even when an individual employee has any grievance over certain management decisions, the matter is sorted out

by the intervention of the trade union. employees are able to initiate collective action to solve any problem concerning any particular employee or all the employees. 6. Rapport with the Management The trade union seeks to improve relations between the employees and the employers. The officials of the trade union hold talks with the members of the management concerning the problems of the employees in other to find an amicable solution. It is, thus, possible for the employees to have better rapport with the management.

Needs for Trade Unions Workers join trade unions to achieve certain objectives that they may not be able to achieve in their personal capacity. Trade unions are necessary: 1. To ensure job security and right pay for the members One of the basic needs of any employee is security of service. The main reason why an employee joins a union is to get himself secured. Apart from job security the employees need to get pay commensurate with their qualifications and skills. Trade unions strive to get both job security and correct pay for all employees. 2. To ventilate the grievances of employee to the management When the employees in general or some in particular have any grievance, they may not be able to convey the same to the management in their personal capacity. Such grievances may be brought to the knowledge of the management through the trade

union. The members of the management may be indifferent to the demands of the individual employees but they cannot be so when it comes to union demands. 3. To have better bargaining power The decisions of the management regarding promotions, transfer, disciplinary action, etc. can be challenged by the employees collectively. Trade union, thus, give the employees better bargaining power. 4. To secure better conditions of service Apart from job security and right pay, employees need certain other benefits like leave with pay, career advancement benefits, provident fund, pension, accident benefits, etc. certain managers may be indifferent to these needs of the employees. Trade unions strive to secure better service conditions for all employees. 5. To have a say in management decisions Certain matters affection the interests of the employees may be decided by the management unilaterally. Trade unions ensure that the employees are also involved while evolving such decisions.

Faction of Trade Unions The important functions of trade union are as follows: 1. Safeguarding the interests of employees The main function of a trade union is to safeguard the interests of its members. It ensures job security for every employee. It further ensures that no members is victimized due to such vindictive actions of the employer as pay cut, suspension, demotion, discharge or termination of service.

2. Ensuring better working and living conditions Trade union strive to secure for the employees fair wages, incentives, bonus, medical facilities, leave benefits, provident fund, pension and better working conditions. 3. Securing promotion and training opportunities Unions ensure that employees do not suffer in account of stagnation in their career path. They work with the management to enable the employees undergo training to update their job knowledge ad skill. They further work to secure promotion opportunities to every employee commensurate with his experience, qualification and performance. 4. Redressing grievances Whenever an employee has any grievance over the actions of the management he brings it to the notice of the union. The union takes up the issue with the management and find a solution. 5. Collective bargaining A individual employee may not be able to represent his grievances to the employer in his personal capacity. When the same is represented by the union, which is an association of employees, the benefits of collective bargaining becomes available. In such a situation, the management will also be under pressure to amicably settle the issue. 6. Participation in management decisions In the absence of trade unions, managements will be free to take certain unilateral decisions. Unscrupulous managements may evolve decisions that are detrimental to the interests of the working class. The presence of union ensures that such one-sided decisions are not made and the views if the

employees are also obtained before evolving and final decision on any matter. 7. Education Trade union may arrange for the education of their members and their families. They may instigate the members to acquire higher qualifications and also provide the necessary help so that they can move to higher position in the organisation. 8. Recreation Trade unions do organize sports and other recreational activities for their members. 9. Financial assistance Trade unions may provide financial help to their members during period of strikes and lock-outs and also to any member undergoing medical treatment towards his medical expenses. 10. Convening meetings General body meetings and meetings of the office- bearers are held at regular intervals to discuss any issue concerning the employees. Certain important decisions are also made in such meetings. 11. Distrusting pamphlets, booklets etc The programmes of the trade union and the issues pertaining to the service conditions of the employees are intimated to the members by means of pamphlets and booklets. Trade unions may also bring out magazines and such other periodicals to enlighten the members on the general conditions of the working class. 12. Social service Trade unions do undertake social service. They may, for example, provide financial help, by collecting contributions from the members, to the victims of earthquake, floods and other naturals calamities. It may be mentioned here that most trade unions

contributed to the kargil Fund recently by receiving contributions from members. 13. Political affiliation Trade unions have political affiliation. They may seeks the help of political parties to solve certain problems confronting the working class when their efforts do not produce the desired result. The political affiliation also provides scope for the discussion of the issues in the Legislative Assembly or in the Parliament. 14. Organizing demonstrations When the talks with the management by the trade union officials over certain grievances of employees. Fail, the union will be left with no option but to organise certain programmes like demonstrations, slogan shouting, fasting and so on to highlight their problems. 15. Giving strike calls If none of the measures adopted by the trade union to find a solution to the problems of the workers yields any result, it will be left with no option but to give a strike call. The union members are expected respond favourable to such a strike call that is used only as the last resort.

Important Provisions of the Trade Unions Act, 1926 The important Provisions of the Trade Unions Act, 1926 are given below: Registration of Trade Unions Any seven or more members of a trade union may, by subscribing their names to the rules of the trade union and by otherwise complying with

provisions of the Trade Unions Act with respect to registration, apply for its registration. The application for registration shall be made to the Registrar of Trade Unions. It must be accompanied by a copy of its rules and a statement giving the following particulars: (i) The names, occupations and addresses of the members making the application. (ii) The name of the trade union and the address of its head office and

(iii) The titles, names, age, addresses and occupations of the officers of the trade union. If the trade union has been in existence for more than one year before making the application for its registration, a general statement of its assets and liabilities prepared in the prescribed form has also to be made to the Registrar along with the application. A trade union id entitled to registration only if its executive is constituted in accordance with the provisions of the Act and its rules provide for the following matters: 1. The name of the trade union; 2. The whole of its objects; 3. The whole of the purpose for which the general funds of the trade union shall be applicable; 4. The maintenance of a list of the members of the trade union and adequate facilities for the inspection thereof by the office bearers and members of the trade union;

5. The admission of ordinary members who shall be persons actually engaged or employed in the industry with which the trade union is connected and also the admission of the number of honorary or temporary office-bearers to form the executive of the trade union; 6. The payment of a subscription by the members of the trade union which shall be not less than 25 paise per month per member; 7. The conditions under which the members shall be entitled to any benefit assured by the rules and conditions under which fines may be imposed on them; 8. The manner in which the rules shall be amended, varied or rescinded; 9. The manner in which the members of the executive and other officebearers of the trade union shall be appointed and removed; 10. The safe custody of he funds of the trade union and annual audit of the accounts thereof, and facilities for the inspection of the account books by the office-bearers and members of the trade union; and 11. The manner in which the trade union may be dissolved. If the Registrar is satisfied that the trade union has complied with all the requirements of the Trade union Act with respect to registration he shall register the trade union. A trade union after registration acquires the following characteristics: (a) It becomes a body corporate by the name under which it is registered and becomes a legal entity distinct from the members of which it is composed. (b) It has perpetual succession and a common seal.

(c) It has the power to acquire and hold both movable and immovable properties. (d) It has the power to contract.

(e) It can by the name under which it is registered sue and be sued. Change of Name Any registered trade union may, with the consent of not less than 2/3rds of total number of members, changes its name. Notice in writing of the change signed by the secretary and by seven members of the trade union shall be sent to the Registrar. If the proposed name is not identical with the name of any existing trade union, the Registrar shall register the change of name. The change in the same does not affect any rights or obligations of the trade union or render defective any legal proceeding by or against the trade union.

Registered Office All communications and notices to a registered trade union may be addressed to its registered office. Notice of any change in the address of the head office shall be given within 14 days of such change to the Registrar in writing.

Who may become members? Anny person who has attained the age of 15 years may be a member of a registered trade union. This is subject to any rules of the trade union to the contrary. Any such member, subject to the rules of the trade union, may

enjoyed all the rights of a member and execute all instruments and give all acquaintances necessary to be executed or given under the rules. But he cannot be an office-bearer of the trade union until he attains the age of 18 years. It is only persons engaged in trade or business who can form a trade union can form one and become members.

Rights and Privileges of a Registered Trade Union The rights and privileges of a registered trade union are as follows: 1. Every registered trade union is a body corporate by the name under which it is registered. It has perpetual succession and a common seal. It has powers to acquire and hold both movable and immovable property. Further it can sue and be sued in its own name. 2. A registered name union may constitute a separate fund, from contributions separately levied for or made to that fund, from which payments may be made for the promotion of the civic and political interests of its members. 3. An office-bearer or member of a registered trade union shall not be liable to punishment under the Indian Penal Code, 1860 in respect of any agreement made between the members for the purpose of furthering any such object of the trade union on which general funds may be spent. Where a strike is accompanied by violence, intimidation, threat, etc., this exemption is not available. Similarly, a union leader is not entitled to claim immunity from punishment for breach of discipline.

4. A suit or other legal proceeding shall not be maintainable in any Civil Curt against any trade union or any office-bearer or member thereof in respect of any act done in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute to which a member of the trade union is a party. The union. its office-bearers and members shall, however, be liable for any act of violence or vandalism or deliberate trespass. 5. An agreement between the members of a registered trade union shall not be void or voidable merely because any of the objects of management is in restraint of trade. 6. The account books of a registered trade union and the list of members thereof are open to inspection by an office-bearers and the members so that they can satisfy themselves as to the genuineness of members and of the account of the union. 7. Subject to any rules of the trade union to the contrary, any person who has attained the age of 15 years may become a member of a registered trade union and enjoy all the rights of a member. To become an officebearer, however, the person must have attained the age of 18 years.

Duties and Liabilities of a Registered Trade union The following are the duties and liabilities of a registered trade union: 1. In case of change in the address of the head office the trade union, notice of change must be given to the Registrar in writing. 2. The general funds of registered trade union shall be spent for the following purposes only:

(a) Payment of salaries, allowances and expenses to office-bearers of the union; (b) Payment of expenses for the administration of the trade union

including audit of account of the general funds; (c) Payment of legal expenses for the purpose of protecting the rights of the trade union; (d) Conduct of trade disputes on behalf of the trade union or any

member thereof; (e) Compensation of members for loss arising out of trade disputes; (f) Allowances to members or their dependants on account of death, old age, sickness, accidents or unemployment of such members; (g) Undertaking of liability under policies of assurance on the lives of members or under policies insuring members against sickness, accident or unemployment; (h) Provision of educational, social or religious benefits for members

including the payment of expense of funeral or religious ceremonies for deceased members or for the dependants of members; (i) Upkeep of periodical published mainly for the purpose of discussing questions affecting employees or workmen as such; (j) Payment of contributions to any cause, subject to a limit, intended to benefits workmen in general; If the general funds of the union are spent for any purpose other than those mentioned above, the expenditure will be unlawful and ultra vires the Act. The union can be restrained by injunction from applying the general funds for any such purposes.

3. A registered trade union is also empowered to constitute a political fund that can be utilised for the following purpose: (a) Payment of expensive incurred by a candidate for election as a member of any legislative body constituted under the Constitution or of any local authority; or (b) Holding of any meeting or distribution of any literature or

document in support of any such candidate; or (c) Maintenance of any person who is a member of any legislative body constituted under the Constitution or of any local authority; or (d) Registration of electors or election of a candidate for any

legislative body constituted under the Constitution or of any local authority; or (e) Holding of political meeting of any kind or distribution of political literature or document of any kind. Expenditure for political purposes will not be, under any circumstances, permitted out of the general funds of the union. Political fund can be created only from contributions separately levied. Members must not be compelled to contribute to the fund. A member who does not contribute to the fund must not be excluded from any benefits of the trade union or placed under any disability or disadvantage. Contribution to the political fund also must not be made a condition for the admission of any member into the trade union. 4. Not less than one-half of the total number of office-bearers of every registered trade union must be persons actually engaged or employed

in the industry with which the trade union is connected. The remaining office-bearers may be social or political workers. 5. Every registered trade union shall send annually to the Registrant a general statement, audited in the prescribed manner, of all receipts and expenditure during the ear ending on the 31st day of December. It shall also send a statement of assets and liabilities on that date. Together with the general statement it shall send a statement of all changes of office-bearers made during the year and a copy of the rues of the union corrected up to the date of dispatch to the Registrar. 6. A person shall be disqualified for being selected as an office-bearer of a registered trade union if he is below 18 years of age or has been convicted by a court in India and sentenced to imprisonment.

Problems of the Trade Union Movement in India The shortcoming or the weakness of the trade union movement in India are as follows: 1. Lack of balanced growth 2. Low membership 3. Poor financial position 4. Political control 5. Multiplicity of unions 6. Inter-union rivalry 7. Lack of recognition 8. Opposition from employers 9. Lack of able leaders

10. Indifferent attitude of members Let us discuss these now.

Lack of Balanced Growth Trade unions are often associated with big industrial houses. A vast majority of the working population is without any union backing. The entire agricultural sector is highly unorganised is India. The agricultural workers are subject to all kinds of exploitation. The same is true with respect to those working in small-scale and cottage industries. Lack of balanced growth of trade unions in all sectors is one of the major weaknesses of the trade union movement in India. Low Membership Trade unions, with the exception of a few, have low membership. This is because may employees are not willing to join unions although they are ready to enjoy the benefits arising out of the union actions. The reasons for the hesitation of employees to join unions include, among others, the need to take part in strikes and such programmes, fear of pay-cut and fear of punishment. Poor Financial Position Low membership is one of the reasons for the poor financial position of the unions. Moreover, the subscription payable by every member is kept low. Some members may not even make a prompt payment of the small amount of subscriptions. There are also not very many sources from

philanthropists. The poor financial position can only weaken the trade union movement.

Political Control Most popular trade unions in India are affiliated to certain political parties. These political parties are only keen on making every grievance of the working class a political issue to attain certain political gains. As a result, the problem only gets wide publicity and remains unsolved.

Multiplicity of Unions Often, there exists more than one union within the same industry each backed by a political party. These various unions have conflicting ideology. If one union comes out with a strike proposal another union may work against it. As a result, none of the unions is actually able to solve the problems of the workers.

Inter-Union Rivalry The existence of many unions within a particular industry paves way for what is called inter-union rivalry. These unions do not work together for the cause of the workers. Each union may adopt a different approach to the problem. The inter-union rivalry may become a more serious problem than the actual problems of the workers. As a result, the employees are unable to drive the benefits of collective bargaining.

Lack of Recognition Most managements are not prepared to recogise trade union. This happens because of any of the following reasons: (a) The existence of low membership that reduces the bargaining power of the union. (b) The existence of more unions within the same industry.

(c) Inter-union rivalry. (d) The different attitude of the employees themselves towards trade

unions. Opposition from employers Apart from the fact that most employers are not prepared to recognise trade unions they also do not let their employees form a union. this the employers are able to achieve by adopting certain punitive measures like intimidating employers, victimising unions leaders, initiating disciplinary action against employees indulging in union activities and so on. Some employers also start rival unions with the support of certain employees. Sometimes, they may go to the extent of barbing union leaders to avert a strike or such similar show of protest b employees. These empoyers fail to understand that unions enable the employees to express their grievances in a democratic manner and can also be used as a means of promoting better labour-management relationships.

Lack of Able Leaders Another barrier to the growth of trade unions is the lack of able leaders. Some union leaders give a strike call even for petty problems that can easily be resolved through talks. On the other hand, there are leaders who have secret pact with the management. They get bribes from the management and work against the interests of the employees. Some leaders dont convene a meeting of the general body at all even when a crisis develops. They take unilateral decisions that are thrust on the employees.

Indifferent Attitude of the Members Union leaders alone cannot be blamed for the weakness of the trade union movement. The different attitude of the members of certain unions is alone a barrier. Some members do not even make a prompt payment of the subscription amount. The treasurer of the union has to go behind them, remind and persuade them to pay the subscription that is often a very small amount. There are, on the other hand, members who do not attend the general body meetings nor do they bother to know what is discussed in such meetings. There are still others who do not take part at all in any of the programmes of the union organised to press the demands of the employees like slogan shouting, procession, demonstration, hunger strike, etc. Members generally expect the office-bearers to do all that is necessary to achieve the demands.

Measures to strengthen Trade Unions The following are some of the measures that can be adopted to strengthen trades unions: 1. Improve financial position The poor financial position of the trade union does not permit it to undertake certain activities. For example, it requires funds to print to pamphlets and booklets, to prepare banners and placards, to enable the officer-bearers to travel to different places to mobilize support and so on in the process of working for the causes of the employees. The first corrective action that is necessary, therefore, is to improve the financial position of every trade union. the following steps may be taken is this regard: (a) The amount of subscription must be increased in tune with the increase in the cost of operations. (b) The members must be persuaded to make prompt payment of

the subscription. (c) Donations may be sought from philanthropists. 2. Increase Membership Step must be taken to increase the membership of trade union. the employees must be enlightened on the importance of co-operation and collective bargaining. This must be done on a continuous basis or till such time the employees take the decision to join the union. the office-beaters must take the initiative to make the employees understand the philosophy of United We Stand and Divided We Fall. 3. Get rid Political Affiliation When trade union have political affiliation, the political parties make an attempt to use the power of

union to their own political gains. It is, therefore, important that our unions free themselves from political control. When the employees have certain genuine demands, they must represent the same to their employers through able leaders who are none other than their own fellow workmen. No attempt should be made to politicise any issue. 4. Do away with Multiple Unions The existence of any trade unions within the same industry only reduces the power of collective bargaining. Moreover, every such union works to its own ideal. The general interests and well-being of the employees, thus, are ignored. It is, therefore, necessary to make efforts to bring all the employee under one union. 5. Securing Recognition Every employee working in any industry must be made to realise the importance of the trade union. He must come forward to join the union willingly. Once the support of the employees is received, the next step is to make all possible efforts to persuade every management to recognise the trade union.