A trade union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts (collective bargaining) with employers. This may include the negotiation of wages, work rules, complaint procedures, rules governing hiring, firing and promotion of workers, benefits, workplace safety and policies. The agreements negotiated by the union leaders are binding on the rank and file members and the employer and in some cases on other non-member workers. Originating in Europe, trade unions became popular in many countries during the Industrial Revolution, when the lack of skill necessary to perform most jobs shifted employment bargaining power almost completely to the employers' side, causing many workers to be mistreated and underpaid. Trade union organizations may be composed of individual workers, professionals, past workers, or the unemployed. The most common, but by no means only, purpose of these organizations is "maintaining or improving the conditions of their employment". Over the last three hundred years, many trade unions have developed into a number of forms, influenced by differing political objectives. Activities of trade unions vary, but may include: 

Provision of benefits to members: Early trade unions, like Friendly Societies, often provided a range of benefits to insure members against unemployment, ill health, old age and funeral expenses. In many developed countries, these functions have been

It is not a temporary or casual combination of workers. Collective bargaining: Where trade unions are able to operate openly and are recognized by employers. however. It is formed for securing certain economic. undertake lobbying. social benefits to members. Industrial action: Trade unions may enforce strikes or resistance to lockouts in furtherance of particular goals. arbitrary and illegal actions of employers. Collective strength offers a sort of insurance cover to members to fight against irrational. Members can share their feelings. . legal advice and representation for members is still an important benefit of trade union membership. It is a relatively permanent formation of workers. Trade union is an association either of employees or employers or of independent workers. exchange notes and fight the employer quite effectively whenever he goes off the track. Political activity: Trade unions may promote legislation favorable to the interests of their members or workers as a whole. the provision of professional training. To this end they may pursue campaigns.   assumed by the state. they may negotiate with employers over wages and working conditions. or financially support individual candidates or parties (such as the Labour Party in Britain) for public office.

Trade Union Movement In India In India the Trade Union movement is generally divided on political lines. for self-respect. According to. a community of outlook. As of 2008. classconsciousness and solidarity of interest and arouses a consciousness. A trade union is an essential basis of a labour movement for without it the labour movement cannot exist. because trade unions are the principal schools in which the workers learn the lesson of self-reliance and solidarity. It creates organization or organizations for their self-protection. "It seeks to develop among workers a spirit of combination.601. Prof. it is an organisation. or less distant future. Cole. rights and duties. Labour movement implies in some degree. It emerges from a common need to serve a common interest. as labour movement is conceived as "All of the organised activity of wage-earners to better their own conditions either immediately or in the more. According to provisional statistics from the Ministry of Labour. The labour movement and trade unions are used synonymously.589 in 2002. safeguarding of their common interest and betterment of their social and economic position. But that is not so. or rather many forms of organisations based upon the sense of a common status and a common need for mutual help." . trade unions had a combined membership of 24.´. there are 11 Central Trade Union Organisations (CTUO) recognised by the Ministry of Labour.

whereas the trade union movement is "by the worker". which is a much wider term. administration and welfare work. The trade union movement on the other hand. This distinction needs to 'be noted all the more because till the workers organised themselves into trade unions. which legalized the registered Trade Union in India. . there is a slight distinction between the two. efforts were made. a part of the 'labour movement'.Often there is to be found a lot of confusion on the use of the word labour movement and 'trade union movement'. mainly by the social reformers. In India. These efforts should be taken as forming a part of the 'labour movement' and not that of the trade union movement. to improve the working and living conditions of labour. the social workers and the enlightened employers. The labour movement is "for the worker". The Madras Labor Union was the first organized Trade Union in India followed by a large number of trade unions in the Indian industrial centers. The Act also gives protection to these trade unions against certain civil and criminal cases. when the workers formed their associations to improve their conditions. The Indian government passed the Trade Unions Act in 1926. the labour movement started from 1875. However. thus. It is. started after 1918. were taken by the government. when a number of measures through legislation. Trade Union in India is the primary instrument for promoting the union of trade union movement and championing the cause of working class in India.

to join together. from sunrise to sunset. . That organised labour unions came to be formed. new lines of production and brought about changes in working and living environment of workers. through the support of some philanthropic personalities. create conditions of widespread use of machinery. wage-earners) who were dependent on wages for their livelihood. The workers had. worker groups made several attempts to improve their working conditions. in dark and dingy factories and under very tiring conditions and the protest by indiv1dualworkers could have no effect on the employers because of the plentiful supply of labour. They were at a disadvantage in an 'age when the doctrine of laisse faire held the field.In the absence of collective action. if not to improve. It was this labour protest on an organised scale. The setting up of large-scale industrial units. therefore. and concentration of industries in large towns.Why the Trade Union Movement? The main elements in the development of trade unions of workers in every country have been more or less the same. and had to work hard for unbelievably long hours. they were ruthlessly exploited. All of these developments introduced a new class of workers (that is. at least to maintain. As the humanitarian movement came to India in the 19th century. The British introduced this movement in India to divide Indian employers and employees and beat local competition. The seeds for the development of trade union in India were sown with the growth of industrialization. their bargaining power against the employers.

workers started showing resentment against minimal wages and pathetic employment conditions. comprising 107 trade unions. it was similar to a welfare association. The year 1920 is a landmark year in the history of trade unions. the Association was far different from the modern trade unions in India. in Express Mills. low wages and horrible working conditions. . The first incident of strike occurred in 1877. which did not draw much government attention. However. which highlighted the terrible conditions and misery of workers caused by excessive work load. This was followed by agitations and demonstrations in Bombay and Madras. Later. Nagpur. It witnessed the formation of the first trade union in India. two more organizations emerged: the Postal Union in Bombay and Printers Union in Calcutta. in the year 1900. long working hours. The All India Trade Union was formed.Formation of First Trade Union Gradually. This was considered a powerful labor association. the Indian Government was directed by the British Government to take proper measures to improve conditions of labor. with a significant position in the nationalist movement. which were much closer to the modern trade unions. Finally. The Bombay Mill Hands Association was formed in 1890.

The existence of a strong and recognized trade union is a pre-requisite to industrial peace. growing literacy and awareness among the employees and the spread of a variety of social institutions including consumer and public interest groups the protective role must have undergone. They . which will uplift the weak and downtrodden and render them the place. secure better conditions of work and life and fight against exploitation and arbitrariness to ensure fairness and equity in employment contexts. a qualitative change. Traditionally trade unions role has been to protect jobs and real earnings. the dignity and justice they deserve. but varies in substance. however. Trade unions through industrial action (such as protests and strikes) and political action (influencing Government policy) establish minimum economic and legal conditions and restrain abuse of labour wherever the labour is organised. In the wake of a long history of union movement and accumulated benefits under collective agreements. The predominant view.It can be said that the protective role of trade unions remains in form. Decisions taken through the process of collective bargaining and negotiations between employer and unions are more influential. is that the concerns of trade unions extend beyond 'bread and butter' issues. a plethora of legislations and industrial jurisprudence.Roles/ Objectives Of Trade Union in India Trade unions are unique organisations whose role is variously interpreted and understood by different interest groups in the society. Trade unions are also seen as moral institutions. Trade unions play an important role and are helpful in effective communication between the workers and the management. There is a considerable debate on the purposes and role of trade unions.

provide the advice and support to ensure that the differences of opinion do not turn into major conflicts. They also play an important educational role. 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. . holidays and changes to working practices are the sorts of issues that are negotiated. In these organizations. But they also have a wider role in protecting their interests. Trade unions negotiate with the employers to find out a solution to these differences. 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. Pay. Trade unions are formed to achieve the following objectives :y Representation Trade unions represent individual workers when they have a problem at work. unions are said to be recognized for collective bargaining purposes. Seeking a healthy and safe working environment is also prominent feature of union activity. If an employee feels he is being unfairly treated. There may be a difference of opinion between management and union members. he can ask the union representative to help sort out the difficulty with the manager or employer. The central function of a trade union is to represent people at work. Unions also offer their members legal representation. the issues which affect people working in an organization. y Negotiation Negotiation is where union representatives. working hours. organizing courses for their members on a wide range of matters. discuss with management.

Most unions run training courses for their members on employment rights. 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 . some unions give help with personal matters. . 2. wills and debt. 4.People can get discounts on mortgages. like housing.As well as offering legal advice on employment issues. Some of the older unions offer financial help to their members when they are sick or unemployed. So. the intervention of unions in such decision making is a way through which workers can have their say in the decision making to safeguard their interests. These policies directly affect workers.One of the earliest functions of trade unions was to look after members who hit hard times. trade unions have increased the range of services they offer their members. y Member services During the last few years. Financial discounts . insurance and loans from unions. Welfare benefits .y Voice in decisions affecting workers The economic security of employees is determined not only by the level of wages and duration of their employment. retrenchment. These include: 1. 3. The evaluation criteria for such decisions may not be fair. Education and training . but also by the management¶s personal policies which include selection of employees for lay offs. promotion and transfer. health and safety and other issues.

. etc Principal Trade Unions in India At present.A. use of force.T. I.I.N.M.S (HIND MAZDOOR SABHA) .C (ALL INDIA TRADE UNION CONGRESS) .T. there are nine central trade unions and a large number of registered federations of unions in various industries and occupations.O ( NATIONAL LABOUR ORGANISATION) . Revolutionary Change in the System ± establishing the rule of the working class even through violence.S ( BHARTIYA MAZDOOR SANGH) .U. etc.M.T. 3.H.B.Forms of Trade Unions 1.U.C (INDIAN NATIONAL TRADE UNION CONGRESS) . Classical ± a trade union¶s main objective is to collectively protect the interests of its members in given socio-economic.C (UNITED TRADE UNION COMMITTEE) .C.N. raising saving rates. Trade unions are the expressions of the needs. 2.T. Neo Classical ± it goes beyond classical objectives and tries to improve other wider issues like tax reliefs.U.L.political system.I.U(CENTRE OF INDIAN TRADE UNIONS) . aspirations and wishes of the working class.U.

along with some like minded nationalists. The All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) is the oldest trade union federations. It was founded May 3. . 1947. It was founded on 31 October 1920 in Bombay by Lala Lajpat Rai and a few others and. Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) is the trade union wing of the Indian National Congress. 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. it was the primary trade union organisation in India. It is considered as the second largest union in India. Mananiya Dattopantji Thengdi who has dedicated his life to the service of the society. until 1945 when unions became organised on party lines. and is affiliated with the International Trade Union Confederation.The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) is the largest Central Trade Union Organisation. The All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) This union serves as the labour forum of Communist Party of India at present. Girish Awasthi is the current president of the organization. The learned economist and visionary.Lakshma Reddy its General Secretary. Every union affiliated to INTUC has to submit its dispute to arbitration after exhausting other means of settlement of disputes. and Mr. founded it on auspicious Lokmanya Tilak Jayanti 23 July 1955.

Abani Roy is the general secretary of UTUC. The founding president was professor K. It has strong unchallengeable presence in the Indian states of West Bengal. May 1. Kerala and Tripura besides a good presence in Tamil Nadu. The Hind Mazdoor Sabha is a national trade union center in India.T. UTUC is politically tied to Revolutionary Socialist Party. The United Trade Union Congress (UTUC) United Trade Union Congress is a central trade union organization in India. UTUC was founded at an All India Labour Conference in Calcutta.The Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS) It was formed in Calcutta on December 24. 1949. and the founding general secretary was Mrinal Kanti Bose. Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU) CITU is a National level Trade Union in India politically attached to the Communist Party of India (Marxist). Shah. a member of the Constituent Assembly from Bombay. 1948 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 outside interference. a former AITUC president from Bengal. The Centre of Indian Trade Unions is today one of biggest assembly of workers and classes of India. Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka .

Hind Mazdoor Kisan Panchayat (HMKP) 5. All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) 3.Lenin Sarani (UTUC . National Labour Organisation (NLO) 10. Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) 2.LS) .CTUOs in India (Central Trade Union Organisations) At present there are twelve CTUOs in India as follows: 1. United Trade Union Congress (UTUC) and 12. Indian Federation of Free Trade Unions (IFFTU) 7. United Trade Union Congress . Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) 8. National Front of Indian Trade Unions (NFITU) 9. Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) 4. Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS) 6. Trade Unions Co-ordination Centre (TUCC) 11.

but a later amendment (2001) specified the minimum membership as 10% of unionizable employees or 100 employees. Various state governments. the registered trade union protection from certain civil and criminal actions. except in Gujarat and Maharasthra. .1926 Trade Unions Act: The trade unions act was passed before independence to provide legal protection to employee¶ collectives and regulate them. have enacted separate legislations to deal with recognition. the act serves to reduce conflict and also be a communication mechanism between management and labor. In the absence of certified standing orders. They specify the dos and don¶ts. Maintaining smooth relations between management and labor has been one of the main objectives of Indian Industrial relations. Under the act. like Maharasthra. trade unions are to be registered with the appropriate government appointed Registrar of Trade Unions.Trade Union Act. The Trade Unions Act. Certifications will be done by designated certifying officer after inviting objections from workmen or trade unions and considering the objections. the model standing orders provided in the act automatically apply. By formally defining conditions of employment. which ever is less. Laws falling under this domain are mainly regulative in nature. 1926 allows freedom for any seven employees to apply to register a trade union. 1946 is regulatory in nature and is applicable to industrial establishments under the jurisdiction of central and state governments. Industrial establishments have to frame standing orders and apply for certifications for those as well. However. The act does not specify any criterion or method for recognition of trade union by the employer as the representative of employees. The act does not make registration compulsory. The Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act.

It also has provisions for firms employing more than 50 workmen (Section 25 A) regarding layoffs. The act also allows the government to intervene in the interest of maintaining industrial peace. which got widened by the Supreme Court in the landmark Bangalore Water Supply and Sewage Board v. the suitability of the different provisions of the act has been questioned from the perspective of increasing employment productivity.The primary tone of the Industrial Disputes (ID) Act of 1947 is regulatory since it puts restrictions on the direct actions that can be taken by both the parties involved in the industrial dispute. The act also places restrictions on employees in public utilities going on strike (sections 22. Rajappa. and flexibility. courts or tribunals for the purpose of arriving at a settlement. payment of layoff compensation (Section 25 C) retrenchment of workmen after giving sufficient notice (Section 25F) and for closure of undertaking (section 25 FFA . However Section 9B allows the government to exempt firms from Section 9 A in terms of public interest. the act has been amended many times. Different conflict resolution forums have been proposed. and 24) without appropriate notice (6 weeks and 14 days before giving the notice) or when any conciliation effort is operational. The debate on the ID act starts with the definition of the industry itself. Since it came to force. 23. conciliation officers (Section 4) boards of conciliation (Section 5) courts of inquiry (Section 6) and labor courts (Section 7) tribunals (Section 7A) and the national tribunal (Section 7B). (1978) case. including works committees (Section 3). Section 10 gives the government power to refer industrial disputes to boards. The act also requires organizations to give a notice of change (Section 9A) ± and advance notice of 21 days ± if there is any change at the work place affecting the workers. In the context of demand for labor reforms.


Not .Problems Faced By Trade Unions in India 1. Trade unions are popular in big industries and the degree of unionisation varies widely from industry to industry.There exist several trade unions in the same establishment. Multiplicity of Unions . This Act confers rights on such a union. This has serious consequences. It is allowed under the Act to raise disputes. The law permits and gives sanctity to small unions. Workers lose interest in unionism. 1926 and get it registered. There is no restriction on the number of unions to be registered in one establishment. This is due to the reason that any seven workers any form a union under the Trade Unions Act. Besides. trade union activities are concentrated in a few states and in bigger industrial centers mainly due to concentration of industries in those places. Any seven persons can form a union under the Trade Unions Act. the rivalry among the leaders of trade unions has resulted in multiplicity of unions. 2. Therefore. Secondly. 3. thereby reducing the average size of membership per union. got conciliation and even bargain with employers. both industry-wise and area-wise. The multiplicity of unions is the result of outside leadership and labour laws. Uneven Growth -The trade unionism in India is characterised by uneven growth. small sections of workers are encouraged to form separate Unions. 1926. But this has been followed by the declining membership per union. Limited Membership -The number of trade unions in India has increased considerably. file suits.

Such an approach kills the solidity and solidarity of trade union movement. ‡ Outsides leaders are responsible for the creation of multiple unions. they don notmind sacrificing the interest of their followers for the achievement ofpolitical ends. At times.Thus.Trade unions in India are led largely by people who themselves are not workers. 4. Outside Leadership . The existence of outside leadership has created the following problems: ‡ Since outsiders have links with political parties. intellectuals andprofessionals having no experience of work in industry. . ‡ Their approach towards labour problems is coloured by politicalconsiderations. the employers also get an opportunity to play unions against each other. they give greaterimportance to the interest of their political parties. These outsiders are politicians. They are able to take advantage of infighting among unions and may refuse to bargain on the plea that there is no strong representative union.only that. This hampers the growth of healthy employer-employeerelations. they would leave that union with a group of dissident workers and form another rival union in the same plant. incase they are not satisfied with other union leaders. Outsiders continue todominate the trade unions to advance their personal interests. the leaders try to solve itthrough political pressures and interventions. They can argue saying that they don¶t know that who should they bargain with. This naturally obstructs thegrowth of understanding and accommodation between workers andemployers. When there is an industrial dispute. multiple unions do more harm than good to the cause of trade unionism.

a union interested inincreasing its membership figures keeps the subscription rate unduly low. a large number of workers have not joined any union. the funds with the unions are inadequate and they cannot undertake welfareprogrammes for their members. . Under such circumstance. Financial Problems -The financial position of the trade unions is weak becausetheir average yearly income is very low and inadequate. trade unionism cannot be expected to make much progress. As aresult.Besides this. all the members of the trade unions do not show interest in their affairs. Moreover. Under conditions of multiplicity of unions. The attendance at the general meetings of the unions is very low. The subscription rates arevery low. unions do not have proper staff and organisation to collect subscriptions.5. Another reason for the weak financial position ofunion is that large amounts of subscription dues remain unpaid by the workers. Indifferent Attitude of Workers . 6.In India.

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