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Types Of Trade Unions Commerce Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Commerce
Wordcount: 5359 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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A trade union is an organization of employees formed on a continuous basis for the purpose of securing diverse range of benefits. It is a continuous association of wage earners for the purpose of maintaining and improving the conditions of their working lives.

Trade union means “combination, whether temporary or permanent, formed

(i) primarily for the purpose of regulating the relation between (a) workmen and employers, or (b) between workmen and workmen, or (c) between employers and employers, or

(ii) for imposing restrictive conditions and the conduct of any trade or business, and includes any federation of two or more trade unions.


Since the growth of unions are spontaneous and automatic there is no definite classification that is followed all over the country. However for clear gaps of differentiation the unions have been classified into the following categories.

Industrial unions

Industrial unionism is a labor union organizing method through which all workers in the same industry are organized into the same union-regardless of skill or trade-thus giving workers in one industry, or in all industries, more leverage in bargaining and in strike situations.

For example:- FireBrigadeUnion the National Union of Miners (N.U.M), covering workers at all levels in the hierarchy

b) General unions.

A General Union is a trade union which represents workers from all industries and companies, rather than just one organization or a particular sector, as in a craft union or industrial union

For example:- Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) cleaners, clerical staff, transport workers

C) Craft unions.

Craft unionism refers to organizing a labor union in a manner that seeks to unify workers in a particular industry along the lines of the particular craft or trade that they work in by class or skill level. It contrasts with industrial unionism, in which all workers in the same industry are organized into the same union, regardless of differences in skill.

For example: Musician Unions

D) White Collars Union :

These are for ‘white-collar’ (or professional) workers who perform the same or similar tasks in different industries. It represents office workers

For example:. National Union of Teachers


The seeds for the development of trade union in India were sown with the growth of industrialization. As the humanitarian movement came to India in the 19th century, worker groups made several attempts to improve their working conditions. The British introduced this movement in India to divide Indian employers and employees and beat local competition.

Attempts were also made to eradicate child labour in India. The British Government was finally compelled to pass a resolution against employing children between the ages of seven to twelve for more than nine hours a day.

The trade unionism in India developed quite slowly as compared to the western nations.

So far as the question of formation and development of Trade Unions in India is concerned, its necessity was realised from 1875 onwards by philanthropists, social workers like Shri Soirabji Shapaji Bengalle and Shri N.M. Lokhandey.

Indian Trade Union movement can be divided into three phases.

The First Phase (1850 to1900)

During this phase the inception of trade unions took place. During this period, the working and living conditions of the labour were poor and their working hours were long. Capitalists were only interested in their productivity and profitability. In addition, the wages were also low and general economic conditions were poor in industries. Efforts towards organizing the workers were made during the early period of industrial development on humanitarian grounds.In order to regulate the working hours and other service conditions of the Indian textile labourers; the Indian Factories Act was enacted in 1881. As a result, employment of child labour was prohibited.

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The growth of trade union movement was slow in this phase and later on the Indian Factory Act of 1881 was amended in 1891. Many strikes took place in the two decades following 1880 in all industrial cities. These strikes taught workers to understand the power of united action even though there was no union in real terms. Small associations like Bombay Mill-Hands Association came up by this time.

The Second Phase (1900 to 1946)

This phase was characterized by the development of organized trade unions and political movements of the working class. A few trade unions like The Printers Union, Calcutta (1905) the Bombay Postal Union (1907) etc were formed. Between 1918 and 1923, many unions came into existence in the country. At Ahmedabad, under the guidance of Mahatma Gandhi, occupational unions like spinners’ unions and weavers’ unions were formed. A strike was launched by these unions under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi who turned it into a satyagrah. These unions federated into industrial union known as Textile Labour Association in 1920. In 1920, the First National Trade union organization (The All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC)) was established. Many of the leaders of this organization were leaders of the national Movement. In 1926, Trade union law came up with the efforts of Mr. N.M Joshi that became operative from 1927. During 1928, All India Trade Union Federation (AITUF) was formed. Besides Gandhi, the Whitly Commission on Labour in India (1929-31) had also pointed out that the “Modem industrialism is itself of western importation and the difficulties which it creates for labour in India are similar to the difficulties it has created elsewhere”. In these conditions the Commission realised that “it is power to combine that labour has the only effective safeguard against exploitation and the only lasting security against inhuman conditions. Moreover the Commission did not find an evidence of any alternative remedy that is likely to prove effective.” So it emphasised that the need of organisation among Indian workmen is great and it further recommended that “nothing but a strong Trade Union movement will give the Indian working class adequate protection.

The Third Phase (After 1947)

The third phase began with the emergence of independent India (in 1947). The partition of country affected the trade union movement particularly Bengal and Punjab. The Planning Commission drafted its first five year plan, setting therein necessary targets of production – industrial as well as agricultural – to be achieved during the next five years. For having industrial advancement, Industrial Policy Resolution in 1948, was also prepared. As the economic progress is bound up with the Industrial peace so for the successful implementation of the plans, particularly in the economy organised for planned production and distribution, the co-operation from Trade Unions was considered absolutely essential at different stages of the execution of the plans. Accordingly, it was realised that the question of maintenance of smooth industrial relations was not a matter between employers and employees alone. But it was a vital concern of the community. Therefore their relationship has to be of a partnership in this constructive endeavour. This was the reason why it was provided in the first five year plan that the dignity of labour must be recognised so that the workers who on account of hardships of illiteracy and ignorance and lack of opportunities have not been able to play as effective a role in the working of industry as they should, could understand and carry out their responsibility and could take an increasing share in the industry. Accordingly the workers “right of association, organisation and collective bargaining was accepted”” and it was laid down in this plan that they (Trade unions) should be welcomed and helped to function as part and parcel of the industrial system. The necessity of Trade Unions was so much considered that no difference between the workers working in privately owned industries or in publicly owned industries was made.

By 1949, four central trade union organizations were functioning in the country

The All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC)

The Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC)

The Hindu Mazdoor Sangh (HMS)

The United Trade Union Congress (UTUC)

The working class movement was also politicized along the lines of political parties. For instance Indian national trade Union Congress (INTUC) is the trade union arm of the Congress Party. The AITUC is the trade union arm of the Communist Party of India. Besides workers, white-collar employees, supervisors and managers are also organized by the trade unions, as for example in the Banking, Insurance and Petroleum industries.


The objectives of the trade unions generally are:

I . They strive for achieving higher wages and better conditions for the members.

2. They not only minimize the helplessness of the individual workers by making them stand collectively and increasing their resistance power through collective bargaining but also protect their member against victimization or injustice of the employers.

3. They provide the worker self confidence and a feeling that they are not simply a log in the machine.

4. They imbibe a spirit of sincerity and discipline in the workers

5. They also take up welfare measures for improving the morale of the workers.

6. They demand an increasing share for workers in the management of industrial enterprises. They help in raising the status of workers as partners of Industry and as citizens of the society.

This is another important area, which has a great impact on the industrial relations system. Labour legislation has been instrumental in shaping the course of industrial relations in India. Establishment of social justice has been the principle, which has guided the origin and development of labour legislation in India. The setting up of the International Labour Organization gave an impetus to the consideration of welfare and working conditions of the workers all over the world and also led to the growth of labour laws in all parts of the world, including 1ndia4′. Some of the other factors which gave impetus to the development of labour laws in India were the Swaraj Movement of 192 1 -24 and the appointment of the Royal Commission on Labour in 1929. The labour laws regulate not only the conditions of work of industrial establishments, but also industrial relations, payment of wages, registration of trade unions, certification of standing orders etc. In addition, they provide social security measures for workers. They desire legal rights and obligations of employees and employers and also provide guidelines for their relationship.

In India, all laws emanate from the constitution of India. Under the constitution, Labour is a concurrent subject, i..e., both the central and state governments can enact labour legislation, with the clause that the state legislature cannot enact a law which is repugnant to the central law. A rough estimate places the total number of enactments in India to be around 160.

Workers Participation

With the outbreak of First World War, countries like England, France, West Germany and USA experienced an industrial unrest largely because labor was regarded as a “commodity of commerce” which was exploited to its maximum. Because of the unrest they recognized the fact that “labor is not a commodity” to be sold at a price, but should be treated as human beings having capacity to grow and accept responsibility as citizens.

A worker wants to participate in the affairs of the industry and contribute to the effectiveness of the co-operative enterprise to which he belongs.

The human relations philosophy popularized by Elton Mayo gave the importance of human factor in the organization. Man is not purely an economic animal but a member of the group sharing its norms and goals.

Workers’ participation aimed at giving the workers a feeling of having a place of their own in the social structure of the country, ultimately providing a social base. The humanitarian approach to labor brought about a new set of values, both for the workers and employers; power has been replaced by persuasion, authoritarianism by democracy and compulsion by co-operation.

It is quite logical that people have right to choose their own government, has right to choose the management of the enterprise to which they belong. It rests on fundamental premise that the worker is not a slave who has no rights at all, he is a citizen employed in an industry and has opinions of his own which should be taken into account while formulating the policies and making decisions.

“The factory is not a mechanical entity which is governed by mechanical principles and economic laws, but a social system which is subject to democratic rights of those who are involved in it.”

In India, Mahatma Gandhi had already launched the idea of trusteeship after the First World War, and some experiments had followed in the Ahmedabad textile mills. After independence, the Government of India consolidated tripartism and created consultative


The various types of involvement with employees varied greatly, though, as several

organizations established different practices in India. Information-sharing, suggestion

schemes, consultation and, only in a few cases, co-determination or participation in its true

sense, exist in many organizations.


The issues on which workers or employees are to be consulted have also varied

widely. Broadly speaking, the range of issues in any enterprise on which decisions need to

be taken from time to time can be classified under five major heads:

Safety and Welfare issues;

Work-Related issues (production on the shop floor, quality, machine maintenance);

Sharing of gains (wages, incentives, allowances);

Production-related issues (product-mix, plant production targets, technology) and;

Business policy (expansion, contraction, pricing).

Workers’ participation is system of communication and consultation, either formal or informal, by which employees of an organization are kept informed about affairs of the undertaking and through which they express their opinion and contribute to management decisions. It is based on the principles of equity, equality and voluntarism. It gives employees’ representatives the right to criticize, to offer constructive suggestions, and to become aware of various delicate issues involved in decision-making. The participation enhances employee’s ability to influence, decision-making at different levels of the organizational hierarchy with assumption of responsibility.

Participation Refers to mental & emotional involvement of Workers in unions activities & it is more behaviorist rather than an attitudinal concept.

Indicators of participations

1-participation in unions elections

2-membership enrolment & subscription

3-membership on union committees

4-Attending unions meetings

5-Involvement in union’s welfare & social responsibility & functions.

Factors influencing WP in Unions

1-The type of leadership is available in unions

2-the history of labour management relations in a plant

3-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 Unions

1-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 a vigilant & participative membership.

4-It is essential not only from the viewpoint of betterment of unions leaders but for the very success of trade unionism.

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.



Advisory Functions

Educational Efforts

Representational Functions

Functions of Social Responsibilities


The Trade Unions Act was passed in 1926 under the title of the Indian Trade unions Act and was brought into effect from 1st June 1927. The act was amended in 1947, 1960 and 1962. Subsequently, the word ‘Indian’ was deleted from the amended Act of 1964, which came into force from 1st April 1965.

Objectives of Act

Terms and conditions required for trade unions to become officially registered.

Responsibilities expected from a registered trade union.

Rights and liabilities of registered trade unions

Applicability of the Act

The Act extends to the whole of India. The act was extended to Jammu & Kashmir by the Central Labour Laws Act 1970 with effect from 1st September 1971.

The Act applies not only to the unions of workers but also to the associations of employers.

The Act is a central legislation, but it is administered and enforced mostly by state governments. For the purpose of this act, the Central government handles the cases of only those unions whose activities are not confined to one state. All other unions are the concern of state governments. The registrars of trade unions are appointed both by the central and state governments. They can also appoint additional or Deputy Registrars who may exercise the powers and functions of the Registrars, as they think fit so as to obviate delays in the disposal of applications for the registration of trade unions.

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(a) Only persons engaged in Trade or Business (which includes an Industry) can form a trade union or become members of the trade union. As such persons employed in Raj Bhawan for domestic and other duties cannot form a trade union. Likewise, the government servants engaged in the task of sovereign and legal functions are not entitled to the registration of a trade union.

(b) The Trade Unions Act 1926 applies to the whole of Indian Union.

(c) Any person who has attained the age of 15 years may become the member of a registered trade union.

Functions of Unions

The functions of unions include intramural, extramural and political. Intramural functions are those activities which are at the betterment of needs of workers in relation to their employment such as ensuring adequate wages, securing better conditions of work, rest interval, continuity of employment etc.

Extramural activities are those which perform to help the workers in times of need and improve their efficiency. They also include welfare measures and conduct recreational functions for the workers. The history of trade unionism in the country records profound effects of political leaders. The route of action, the concentration of work moves from workers to a more universal area- politics. In India most of the unions are politically affiliated or have strong support of leading political parties of the country. Thus the trade unions use their franchise to capture the government which indirectly results in acquiring stronger hold of power through political influence for their trade union.


A. Failure to submit returns (Section 31): Section 31 of The Trade Union Act, 1926 states about the penalties on failure to submit returns by registered Trade Union. It contains,

(1) If default is made on the part of any registered Trade Union in giving any notice or sending any statement or other document as required by or under any provision of this Act, every (office-bearer) or other person bound by the rules of the Trade Union to give or send the same .

Again, if there is no such or person, every member of the executive of the Trade Union, shall be punishable with fine which may extend to five rupees and in the case of a continuing default, with an additional fine which may extend to five rupees for each week after the first during which the default continues and provided that the aggregate fine shall not exceed fifty rupees.

(2) Any person who willfully makes, or causes to be made, any false entry in, or any omission from the general statement required by section 28, or in or form any copy of rules or of alterations of rules sent to the Registrar under that Section, shall be punishable with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees.

B. Supplying false information regarding Trade Union

(Section 32):

Any person who, wit intent to deceive, gives to any member of a registered Trade Union or to any document purporting or applying to become a member of such Trade Union, any document purporting to be a copy of the rules of the Trade Union or of any alterations to the same which he knows, or has reason to believe, is not a correct copy of such rules or alterations as are for the time being in force.

On the other hand, any person who, with the like intent gives a copy of any rules of an unregistered Trade Union to any person on the pretence that such rules are the rules of a registered Trade Union, shall be punishable with fine which may extend to two hundred rupees.

C. Cognizance of offence (Section 33):

(1) No court inferior to that of a Presidency Magistrate or a Magistrate of the first class shall try any offence under this Act.

(2) No court shall take cognizance of any offence under this Act unless complaint thereof has been made by or with the previous sanction 32, by the person to whom the copy was given, within six months of the date on which the offence is alleged to have been committed.

Provisions of the Act

The main provisions of the act relate to

1. Definition

2. Registration of trade unions

3. Duties and liabilities of registered trade unions

4. Rights and privileges of registered trade unions.

5. Amalgamation and dissolution of trade unions.

6. Submission of returns

7. Penalties and fines.

8. Power to make regulations.

Registration & Application


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 the provisions of this Act with respect to registration, apply for registration of the trade union under this Act.


Every application for registration of a Trade union shall be made to the

Registrar, and shall be accompanied by copy of the rules of the trade union and a statement of the following particulars namely;

(a) The names, occupations and addresses of the members making the application

(b) The name of the trade union and the address of its Head Office and

(c) The titles, names, ages, addresses and occupations of the office bearers of the trade union.

The Trade Unions Act Does Not Affect

1. Any agreement between partners as to their own business

2. Any agreement between an employer and those employed by him as to such employment; or

3. Any agreement in consideration of the sale of the goodwill of a business or of instruction in any profession, trade or handicraft.


At present there are 10 Central Trade Union Organizations in India:

All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC)

It was established in 1920 as a result of a resolution passed by the organized workers of Bombay and the delegates which met in a conference on 31′ October 1920. It was attended by such first rank political leaders as Motilal Nehru, MA Jinnae, Mrs. Annie Besant and Vallabhai Patel and Col. Wedgewood on behalf of the British Trade Union Congress. The first president was Lala Lajpat Rai.

Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS)

This union has been the outcome of the decision taken by the Jana Sangh in its convention at Bhopal on 23rd July, 1954.

Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU)

This was formed in 1970 when as a result of the rift in the AITUC; some members of the Communist Party seceded.

Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS)

When the Socialists separated from the Congress, those who were dissatisfied with the pro-Communist policies of the INTUC formed a new organization, the Hind Mazdoor panchayat, which was merged with the Indian Federation of Labour in 1948 under the name of the Hind Mazdoor Sabha. It is an organ of the Praja Socialist Party.

Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC)

The INTUC came into existence on 4th May, 1948, as a result of the resolution passed on 17th November 1947, by the United Board of the Hindustan Mazdoor Sevak Sangh, which was a labour organisation working under the direction of National Congress-minded labour leaders on the Gandhian Philosophy of Sarvodaya. Since AITUC was under the stronghold of the Communists, the Congress labour leaders thought of forming a new central trade union organization.

To give effect to this idea, a conference was held at New Delhi under the chairman ship of Sardar Vallabhai Patel. It was inaugurated by Shri Acharya J.B. Kripalani (on May 3, 1947) and was attended by eminent nationalist and socialist leaders.

National Front of Indian Trade Unions (NFITU)

This union was founded in 1967, with the claim that “this is the only trade union in India which is not controlled by any of the political parties, employers or government.

National Labor Organization (NLO)

Trade Unions Co-ordination Centre (TUCC)

Trade Union Coordination Committee is a central trade union federation in India. TUCC is politically attached to All India Forward Bloc. According to provisional statistics from the Ministry of Labour, TUCC had a membership of 732760 in 2002. The general secretary is Nripendra Kumar Mahto.

United Trade Union Congress (UTUC)

Some trade union leaders of the socialist bent met together in December 1948 to form a new central organisation of labour, called Hind Mazdoor Sabha. Some of the leaders did not agree with the principles and objectives of the Sabha and they therefore, again met at Calcutta on December 27, 1948, and decided to call upon a conference of trade union leaders to form a united Trade Union Committee. This Committee called for a meeting of the various leaders at Calcutta on April 30, 1949 and formed a new union under the name of United Trade Union Congress.

United Trade Union Congress – Lenin Sarani (UTUC – LS)

It is a Central Trade Union Organisation in India and the labour wing of the Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist). Presently its activities are spread over 19 states. The organisation claims to have 600 affiliated unions, comprising an individual membership of over two million. It is the 6th largest trade union in India. According to provisional statistics from the Ministry of Labour, UTUC-LS had a membership of 1,368,535 in 2002.


Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS) 5,788,822

Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) 8,200,000


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.


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.

Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) 1,325,752


The structure of unions refers to the basis on which unions are organised (i.e., whether they are organised on craft or industrial or general union basis) and to the pattern whereby the plant unions are linked to regional level or national level federations or unions.

Unions in India are largely organised by industry rather than craft. Although industrial unionism has been the general trend, craft unions have also emerged here and there; primarily, they exist among non-manual workers like administrative staff, professionals, technicians, etc. Ahmedabad Textile Labour Association is the sole example of craft union of manual workers.

Another aspect of the structure of unions in India relates to their pattern of relationship between national level, regional level, local level and plant level unions.

Let us see how they are related in India.

Plant level Unions

The first level in the structure from below is the plant level union. This comprises the unions in one organisation or factory. Please note that only seven members are required to form a union. This has lead to multiple unions in one factory

Local Level federations.

This is the second level in the structure from below. The local trade union federation holds together the plant level unions at the local level in a particular craft and industry. These local level federations might be affiliated to either some regional level or national level federation or these may be independent.

Regional level federations

These are the organisations of all the constituent unions in a particular state or region.

The importance of such federations cannot be exaggerated. In a country like India, conditions vary from region to region. The style of living, languages, customs, traditions, conditions, etc. are different. Therefore, it is better that workers are organised at regional or state level.

These regional federations may have members of two kinds:

(1) The plant level unions affiliating themselves to these directly and

(2) The local federations.

In the second case, plant level unions become the members of regional federation indirectly through the local federations.

It may be noted that the regional federations may be independent or they may get affiliated to some national federation.

National federations.

These are national level bodies to which plant level unions, local unions or regional level unions may get affiliated. These are the apex bodies at the top of the structure. They act as coordinating bodies. Th


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