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Exploring the Vital Role of Trade Unions in Collective Bargaining

How Trade Union Plays An Important Role In The Process Of Collective Bargaining:

  1. Forming of trade union is fundamental right that is given to every labourer and a skilled workman.
  2. Trade Union illustrates the fundamental right, where the union of workmen, where trade union eliminates the conflict between individual character of human rights and collective interest of workmen.
  3. Therefore, to form/organise trade, to collectively bargain and to go on a strike can be considered as the part of the fundamental right Article 19(1)(c) of the Constitution of India.
  4. The Hon'ble Supreme Court in the case of Karol Leather Karamchari Sangathan v. Liberty Footwear Company, (1989) 4 SCC 448 has defined Collective bargaining as, "the technique by which dispute as to conditions of employment is resolved amicably by agreement rather than coercion".
  5. Collective bargaining is considered as one of the good and fair labour practices, where the employer and the workmen negotiate to resolve dispute without any means of coercion. Refusal to participate in collective bargaining process from the Employer side will be considered as unfair trade practice under fifth schedule of the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947.
  6. Trade Union Acting As The Representative From Workmen Side:
    In Negotiating Process: Trade Union, if established will initiate the collective bargaining process. The Trade Union notifies the employer and asks the employers to participate in process of collective bargaining. However in certain cases of strike or lockout, the employer will initiate the process to resolve dispute. The trade union will prepare a charter of demand enlisting all reasonable demands by the workmen and present it before the employer and his representatives, if any.The demands maybe relating to issues given under section 2(k) of the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947.
  7. Role Of Trade Union In Preparing Charter Of Demands: In public sectors, there will be multiple unions, which would create hassle to employer to hear all the demands, in those cases trade union will prepare a document consisting of all the demands.
  8. Role Of Central Trade Union Organisation:
    In Setting Up Co-Ordination Committee And Laying Guidelines For Collective Bargaining: CTUO generally provides guidelines in preparing charter of demands and in formulating and deciding the strategy. The CTUO establishes a co-ordination committee to ensure the economy of State doesn't get effected.
  9. Power Of Trade Union In Entering Into Bipartite Agreements:
    With Employer: In the year 1969, a National Labour Commission was established, where it reviewed all the Labour legalisations and proposed many recommendations. This commission also reviewed the Trade Unions Act 1928 and it strongly recommended that recognised and registered Trade Union will be given certain Statutory Rights such as; i) right of sole representation, ii) entering into collective bargaining agreements, iii) holding discussions and iv)negotiations.
  10. One of the aim of forming Trade Union is to negotiate terms with employers regarding matters which are affecting their members(workmen who subscribed to membership of trade union) and other employees, employers.
  11. At International Level, Formation of trade union is considered as fundamental component of social justice and ILO acknowledged the same when it was formed in the year 1919. Where the freedom of association was further protected in UDHR, 1948, ICCPR and ICESR.
  12. In the year 1998, The ILO issued the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Right of work, which identified the freedom of association i.e., Trade Union and effective collective bargaining as the core of human rights. It also said that Freedom of Association comprises of three activities, orgainizing, collective bargaining and strike which are protected under this right.
  13. Karl-Marxian Trade Unionism Approach: As per him, Trade unionism is based on the concept of the class struggle between the employers and employees aka workmen. According to Karl Marx, trade unions are instruments to overthrow capitalism and bring Industrial Democracy.
  14. A recognised trade union has the legal right to bargain about issues discussed in Industrial Dispute Act, such as pay, working hours, holidays and other facilities.
  15. In the case of Ram Prasad Vishwakarma v. Industrial Tribunal, the court said that:
    "It is well known how before the days of collective bargaining, labour was at a great disadvantage in obtaining reasonable terms fir contact of service from its employer. As trade unions developed in the country and collective bargaining became the rule, the employers found it necessary and convenient to deal with the representative of workmen, instead of individual workmen, not only for the making or modification of contracts but in the matter of taking disciplinary action against one or more workmen and as regards of other disputes."
  16. Collective Bargaining is considered as function and right of trade union. According to Article 2 of the Collective Bargaining Convention, 1981 (No. 154) of the International Labour Organisation, "collective bargaining extends to all negotiations which take place between an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers' organisations, on the one hand, and one or more workers' organisations, on the other, for (a) determining working conditions and terms of employment; and/or, (b) regulating relations between employers and workers; and/or (c) regulating relations between employers or their organisations and workers or workers' organisations".
  17. Collective bargaining, adjudication and wage boards, and conciliation are some determinants to decide the salaries and wages of workers in the organization. These are followed in a systematic way so that no chaos will arise in the organization. If any industrial dispute occurs in the organization, the trade union takes responsibility to solve it. It always protects the interest of both the workers as well as the employers. Trade union negotiates with organization to resolve the conflicts between worker and employer and brings peace to the organization. Collective bargaining means resolving the clashes between employees and employers by managing negotiations between them. It is an agreement between workers and employers when something goes wrong between them. If the agreement is breached, it will be considered as an illegal trade practice. The importance of trade unions have been growing since independence. Collective bargaining is an important aspect in an industrial relation and which in turn depends on the recognition of trade union.
  18. However India did not ratify the Collective Bargaining Convention, 1981 (No.154).
  19. Role of Trade union:
    Trade Union represents the collective number of workmen in the process of collective bargaining without using means of coercion and without any immediate effect of termination, retrenchment, or lockout. Trade Union strives to promote the socio-economic, health and welfare of the workmen. Trade union also promotes the improvement of working condition of workmen in industries where the Trade Union is recognised. Trade union ensures job security, as in one of the case laws it was decided that illegal termination or illegal retrenchment can be questioned and objected by recognised trade union and can also be represented on behalf of the aggrieved party.

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