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Analysis Of Role Of Trade Unions In Indian

Trade union is defined under the Trade Unions act, 1926 which defines it as, any combination, whether temporary or permanent, formed primarily for the purpose of regulating the relations between workmen and employers or between workmen and workmen, or between employers and employers, or for imposing restrictive conditions on the conduct of any trade or business, and includes any federation of two or more Trade Unions.

Several Labour movements started after the outbreak of world war one. The miserable social and economic condition of the people at that time triggered the labour movement. Formation of ILO (international labour organization) leads to formation of trade unions .Ahmadabad labor textile association was formed under the guidance of Mahatma Gandhi principle of non-violence.

The credit for the first association of Indian workers is generally given to the Bombay Mill-Hands Association founded by N.M. Lokhande in 1890. This was in the period just after the passing of the 'First' Factories Act in 1881 by the British Government of the time. The following years saw the formation of several labour associations and unions. The first clearly registered trade-union is considered to be the Madras Labour Union founded by B.P. Wadia in 1918, while the first trade union federation to be set up was the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) in 1920.[1]

There were three kinds of unions on the basis of structure it consists of:
  1. Industrial Union
  2. Craft Union
  3. General Union

Crafts union consists and comprises of earning of wage from the single occupation, it includes all the workmen working for single craft even of different industries. An Industrial union is formed by virtue of actions of industry not because of similar crafts or works, General union consists the workmen of various crafts and industries.

In India formation of trade union takes place mainly because of industrial decisions reason of which can be reduced importance of craftsmen after industrialization and availability of large unskilled labour. The four major organization serving as union for workmen are INTUC, AITUC ,HMS ,UTUC, INTUC[2].

Structure of Unions
The term Structure of unions alludes to the premise on which unions are structured or organized and to the model whereby the plant unions are linked to regional level or national level federations or unions. These two aspects of the unions will be examined separately.

Trade unions are classified into three categories: [3]
  • Craft Union'
  • Industrial Unions
  • General Unions

A craft union can be defined as an association of wage earners engaged in a single occupation. It may cover all workers engaged in a particular craft irrespective of the industries in which they are employed. For example, The International Wood Carvers Association and the Indian Pilots Guild.

Industrial Unions are organized on the basis of industry, for example, if the workers of a cotton textile factory decide to form a union of workers of different crafts, the union will be called an industrial union.

General unions are not so popular in India and it covers workers employed in different industries and crafts. In India, even though trade unions are largely organized by industry, craft unions are also emerging here and there. The predominance of industrial unions can be partly due to the conditions not favoring the growth of craft and general unions and partly due to environmental support to industrial unions.

Aim of Study: To analyze the role of Trade Unions in India
Scope
This study is associated with the role of trade unions in India.Trade unions Act,1926 is the statutory material used. The research is based on already existing data's like books , news articles, journals, articles. This study doesn't completely picturize the roles of trade union but tries to substantiate the statements in hypothesis with limited resources.

Objectives:
  1. To find the role towards the Trade Union member
  2. To find the role in Industrial Relations
  3. To find the role towards Trade Union Organization
  4. To find the role towards the Society
Hypothesis:
  1. Trade Unions safeguards workers conditions and guarantee fair deal and social justice
  2. Trade Unions maintains discipline , settles disputes and bring harmony between workers and organization
  3. Trade Unions improves financial position, maintain records and train members.
  4. Trade Unions stands for social cause and improves Productivity.
Scheme of Study
Chapter 1
In this chapter, we will try to substantiate the hypothesis 1. A registered Trade Union has the right to maintain
  1. a general fund, and
  2. a separate fund for political purposes:
But the Unions are bound to utilize the funds only for the purposes specified in Section 15 the Act.
The following are the purposes for which the general funds of the Union may be spent:
  • Payment of salaries, allowances, etc., to the office bearers of the Union.
  • Special allowances to the members (including dependants) of the Trade Union on account of death, sickness or accidents, etc.
  • Compensation to members for loss arising out of trade disputes.
  • Providing educational, social and religious benefits to the members.
  • Issue of assurance policies on the lives of members and also against sickness, accidents, unemployment, insurance, etc.
  • Providing for publication of periodicals for the use of which is intended for the members benefit.
  • We could see this section lists out various roles for the trade union in order to safeguard the workers condition by payment of salaries, proving allowances and education and variety of other things that ensures a fair deal and social justice.
  • We can also see what the trade unions in India trying to achieve in the above aspects.

Immunity from Punishment for Criminal Conspiracy [Section. 17]:
No office bearer or member of a registered Trade Union will not be punished under the Sec .120B punishment of criminal conspiracy of the Indian Penal Code (Conspiracy cases are defined as cases in which two or more persons agree to commit a crime or to commit an illegal act.) regarding the matters of the spending the general funds for proper purpose.

Therefore, the role of the trade union is to ensure their members working conditions aren't affected by unnecessary accusation and liable for punishment. Basically, a worker earns for his daily livelihood as well for his family and such punishment will affect his family's routine and as the law itself has clearly stated it wouldn't be a fair deal which amount misunderstanding of his role.

Objectives of Indian National Trade Union Congress [4]:
  1. To secure increasing association of the worker in the administration of industry and their full participation in its control.
  2. To secure speedy improvement of conditions of work and life and of the status of the workers in industry and society.
  3. To obtain for the workers various measures of social security, including adequate provision in respect of accidents, maternity, sickness, old age and unemployment.
  4. To secure a living wage for every worker in normal employment and to bring about a progressive improvement in the workers standard of living.
  5. To regulate hours and other conditions of work in keeping with the conditions of the workers and to ensure the proper enforcement of legislation for the protection and up-lift of labour.
     
RSS-aligned Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS)
It expressed disappointment over government's budget proposals with regard to disinvestment and foreign direct investment especially in the insurance sector.

The few things it has pointed out: [5]
  1. New efforts on mega textile parks, major fishing harbor's etc., are welcome moves, but there is no support to crores of existing workers and fishers in such sectors
  2. None of the demands raised by the BMS and other trade unions has been incorporated in the Budget except a special scheme for tea workers in West Bengal and Assam, thus making the consultation process a mockery.
  3. There is no increase in the much-expected Employees' Pension Scheme 95 (EPS) pension amount or medical scheme for pensioners as demanded by BMS.
  4. "Women workers are being compelled to do night shift. There are no income tax reliefs in spite of the adverse effect of the pandemic situation whereas corporate tax is reduced," it also pointed out.
To protest against the Finance Ministry's recent revision of 8.7% interest rate to subscribers of the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), trade unions have called for a day-long nationwide protest on Friday. The trade unions including Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and All India United Trade Union Centre (AIUTUC) will join the protest. [6]

Thus, we could find the attitude of above discussed unions meets with the aspects of the hypothesis 1 by seeing it raising voice for the workers against the government. Thus , all the above findings are proving the hypothesis 1 to be positive.

In this chapter, we will try to substantiate the hypothesis 2. Trade Unions also protect the workers from arbitrary discipline action taken by management against any worker. No worker should be victimized by management in the form of arbitrary transfer or suspension.[7] Employee and Employer Relations-for an industrial peace there must be harmony between employer and employee. But due to superior power of the management sometimes conflict arises in this situation Trade Union represent the whole group of workers and continue negotiations with management[8]

Unions Work With Employers to Resolve Labor Issues
One of the most important roles that trade unions perform is that when there is a dispute in the workplace, the union acts as an intermediary between employers and business owners. Trade union leaders are experienced at solving problems through formal arbitration and grievance procedures. Instead of viewing this process as contentious, business owners should welcome the involvement of a union representative, because it can expedite the resolution. When issues arise at the workplace between you and your employee, the goal is to secure a "win-win" in which both sides feel as if they each attained something from the deal.

In the case of Karol Leather Karamchari Sangathan vs Liberty Footwear Company[9],
The respondent-1 is a registered partnership firm carrying on its trading activities in leather footwears at Karnal and some other places under the name and style of 'Liberty Footwear Company'. It has its head office at Karnal in the State of Haryana. It had a serious dispute with the workers. The workers' union complained that the management has illegally terminated more than 200 workers. The respondent denied that claim and asserted that the persons whose services were alleged to have been terminated were not its employees at the material time.

Wherein this case Hon'ble Supreme Court of India has defined Collective bargaining as the technique by which dispute as to conditions of employment is resolved amicably by agreement rather than coercion. Thus, the courts have established how the role of trade unions in creating harmony between workers and industrial organization

In that process of collective bargaining, negotiations and discussions take place between employer and employee in respect to working conditions[10]

Construction of separate fund for political purposes [Section. 16]
Apart from the primary objects, a Trade Union may have certain other political objects. As per Sec. 16, a registered union may constitute a separate fund in addition to the general fund and the payment of such a fund shall be utilized for serving civic and political interest of its members. The fund can be utilized for those certain purposes as given in Section 16

The funds collected for political purposes shall not be clubbed with the general fund. No workman is compelled to contribute in this fund and the nonpayment in this fund cannot be made a condition for admission to the Trade Union.

In that way, Trade unions will have to ensure that the funds are properly managed and there is no fraudulent act and ensures there is breach of moral conduct by compelling any workmen as said above which in the result helps to maintain disciple among the union. As its role is not to club the funds with the general fund, there will be not disputes between employers and workmen leading to a harmonical relationship in one way.

In West India Steel Company Ltd. v. Azeez [11]a Trade Union leader obstructed work in the factory for five hours protesting against deputation of workman to work in another section. It was held that a worker inside the factory is bound to obey the reasonable instructions given by his superiors and carryout the duties assigned to him. The mere fact that such worker is a Trade Union leader does not confer on him any immunity in that regard.

In the above case, role of trade unions in maintaining discipline is established. Even he is a trade union leader he gains no immunity thereby giving the workers the feeling of justified and brings in harmony to the union as well.

Understanding all the above findings, we could find that the hypothesis 2 is sounding true

Right to inspect books of Trade Union. [Section 20]
The account books of a registered Trade Union and the list of members thereof shall be open to inspection by office-bearer or member of the Trade Union at such times as may be provided for in the rules of the Trade Union.

Therefore, the role of trade union to maintain records is clearly stated by law, so that it can reviewed whenever it is required and paving for transparency.

In Mario Raposo v. H.M. Bhandarkar and others[12], the petitioner as well as the respondents were members of a Union called V.C.O. Bank Employees' Association Nagpur. The office bearers of the union purchased shares of U.T.I. in their individual names out of the Union General Fund. It was held that purchase of shares cannot be termed as investment under section 15 of the Act but is a speculative activity. Section 15 of the Act does not allow to spend the fund of the union on speculative activity.

In the above case law, we could find that trade union members representing their trade union ensured that there is no unnecessary spending from the general fund which may affect the financial position of the union even though both the parties are members of trade union because they were ready to resolve this issue to the court of law knowing it may lead to either decision but part of them have the intention to safeguard the financial position of the trade union. And also, it also acts as a precedent for all the trade unions showing where it can prevent unnecessary expenses. The above findings are found to support the hypothesis 3

Training Program of Trade Union leaders of NE India begins[13]
The 3-day Leadership Training Program of Trade Union leaders of North East India began yesterday at the hall of Kha Drama Party in Nambol. Speaking on the occasion, M Joykumar Luwang said that when women are enriched with more knowledge, the progress of development of the Manipuri Society will be enhanced manifold.

He stressed on the need for conducting labour education programmes under Union Government in order to acquire more knowledge.He continued that one needs to be equipped with the technological knowledge apart from the general education inorder to strive forward for a better life.

We could see the trade union in the north east india are conducting training programmes thereby helping them assume leadership through which we find this to be the role of trade union in training members. The above findings were found to be substantiating the hypothesis 3.

In this chapter , we try to substantiate the hypothesis 4.
There should be warranted social responsibility from the trade union because there is direct impact of decisions of trade union of labours this role of organization is developed by virtue of societal norms, ethical values and concept of social contract. Responsibilities can be summarized with regards to function of trade union and employer employee relationship.[14]
  • Education and awareness amongst labours so that a traditional or conventional way indulging into grave agitation can get the shape of cooperation and understanding. The development of the society should not be obstructed by virtue of un necessary strikes and grave agitation, sometimes the consensus reached between employer and employee is favorable to them but may be unjust to innocent customer that innocent customer is supposed to be protected by trade union
     
  • Their acts and deliberation with employer should be in the manner so that consensus becomes the part of economic growth and development for that purpose cooperation is required, Trade unions are supposed not be influenced by the caste division system for the interest of its workmen and to maintain the integrity of the nation .Goals should be achieved by not overlooking the interest of community at large.
     
  • Rural and urban population comprises of unorganized labour which should be made organized by trade union to uplift them and to get them above poverty line. To promote the planned schemes and ideas for savings so that capital formation increases .New equipment should be supported by virtue of awareness programmes about its use.

The case of the Self- Employed Women's Association (SEWA), a labour union based in Gujarat with members mostly from the informal sector, serves as a good example of how unions can engage directly with members to widen social security coverage. SEWA has its own voluntary insurance scheme (in partnership with an insurance company), under which members can get life, accident, asset loss and health insurance for very low premiums. There are full time SEWA workers who operate at a grass- root level, promoting insurance and collecting premiums.[15]

Another example of a union consisting of informal sector workers is the Learn Mahila Kaamgar Sanghathana (LMKS), a Maharashtra-based state level trade union of home-based workers and garment factory workers. By organising themselves, these workers have been able to present demands for better social security and enter into negotiations with employers using their institutional weight as a legally registered trade union. The union also allowed workers to deal directly with the garment producers and earn more for their products by removing the need for contractors who charged very steep commissions. [16]

Over time, LMKS has been able to form a network with public hospitals, NGOSs and charitable trusts to offer workers free health check- ups and medication, vocational training and assistance with social security access. As a result, members now earn more in real terms and have better social security coverage. It is important to note here that these improvements have come as a result of organisational unity among workers and by utilizing existing institutions by the union with hardly any compromise necessary on the part of employers.

Trade unions support farmers agitation, saying Bharat Bandh on Dec 8 successful[17]
A joint platform of central trade unions on Friday reiterated its support to the farmers' agitation, saying that the Bharat Bandh call by them on December 8 was successful. Despite the bandh call, the unions had not gone on strike on December 8 and they lent their moral support to the farmers' agitation against three new farm bills.

The ten central trade unions are Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India United Trade Union Centre (AIUTUC), Trade Union Co-ordination Centre (TUCC), Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA), All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU), Labour Progressive Federation (LPF) and United Trade Union Congress (UTUC).

Trade unions to organise rally against unbundling of BSEB[18]
Major trade unions will organise a demonstration to protest the decision of the Bihar government to atomise the state electricity board into eight entities. Workers owing allegiance to the All India Trade Union Congress and Indian National Trade Union Congress will organise a joint protest rally on January 16 outside the premises of the Bihar State Electricity Board against the unbundling of the state power utility into eight separate companies.

AITUC protests against rising fuel prices
he Bengaluru district committee of the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) held a protest against the rise in fuel prices, in the city on Thursday. Protesters termed the rise in fuel prices as "inhumane" and the result of "mismanagement" of the economy by the Union government.

CITU and other organisations in Delhi staged protest rally in front of the Parliament at Jantar Mantar on 26 February demanding immediate and effective intervention by the police, directly under the Union Home Ministry in Delhi; to prevent the riot, arrest of the culprit BJP leaders in Delhi whose provocating statements are responsible for this riot in Delhi. Protests agitation, led by CITU and others, took place in several districts in Punjab. CITU's other state committees also protested and, now, are campaigning against it while collecting relief fund. [19]

Political parties, trade unions protest against demonetisation[20]
Coal India trade unions plan 3-day strike next month against commercial mining. They have decided to call for a three-day strike from July 2 to protest against the government's decision to open up the sector to private competition. Trade union by protesting against the privitisation trying to convey that such move will reduce public productivity.[21]

From the above findings , we could establish the hypothesis 4.

Conclusion
The above project tries to find the role of trade unions in India. In conclusion, trade unions still tend to play an important role in protecting workers and helping them enforce their legal rights, particularly in cases when these rights may be uncertain or under debate. Unions will also be able to support employees when they feel that the contracts between workers and managers is being breached, and can help workers to renegotiate this contract if necessary.

We could find that most of the trade unions are associated with the political parties. Even section 16 clearly reveals of how the funds of the union can be used for candidates contesting in elections. Doing this study, we could find the impact the trade unions are creating via prostests for social cause and ability to voice against government.

At this culminating point, I would say that Role of trade unions can't be demarcated in this single project, it prolongs because their roles are dealt with various aspects both in and out of the trade union. The author of the article could cover only limited scope.

Suggestion
I would like to suggest that all the trade unions must function much more transparent by having its own certified websites uploading all the necessary information of their activities, decisions of meeting , their account records , news , their contribution etc. so that it would be very much convenient for the public to view and assess the trade unions.

I find that few trade unions have websites but not having much information as said above. Since they are affiliated with political parties and law too permits them to collect funds for political parties, how will public and government can track of all those records how they have collected and to whom it's been given. By knowing , how much money candidates have got from trade unions may help public voting their leaders in elections.

Reference:
Bibliography
  1. C.P. Thakur (1976),Trade Unions and Social Science Research in India, Indian Journal of Industrial Relations, Vol. 12, No.1
  2. K.N. Vaid, Political Unionism and Industrial Relations in India. Indian Journal of Social Work
  3. S.N. Mishra, Labour & Industrial Laws , 27th Edition, Central Law Publications (2014)
  4. Ranganathan, S. (2004) Trade Union movement in India: In the aftermath of privatization
Statutory Material
  1. Trade Unions Act, 1926
End-Notes:
  1. Trade Unions in India; April 4 2021; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trade_unions_in_India
  2. Vipin Sharma; Role of Trade unions in India; http://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-193-role-of-trade-unions-in-india.html
  3. Ibid
  4. https://www.intuc.net/index.php?articleid=3
  5. https://www.business-standard.com/budget/article/disappointed-over-govt-policies-on-fdi-disinvestment-in-budget-2021-bms-121020101462_1.html
  6. https://www.zeebiz.com/india/news-trade-unions-to-hold-day-long-protest-today-on-lowering-of-epf-interest-rate-622
  7. C.P. Thakur (1976),Trade Unions and Social Science Research in India, Indian Journal of Industrial Relations, Vol. 12, No.1,Page 1-26
  8. K.N. Vaid, Political Unionism and Industrial Relations in India. Indian Journal of Social Work, July, 1968.
  9. (1989) 4 SCC 448
  10. Vipin Sharma; Role of Trade unions in India; http://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-193-role-of-trade-unions-in-india.html
  11. S.N. Mishra, Labour & Industrial Laws , 27th Edition, Central Law Publications (2014),Pg.380.
  12. Ibid
  13. https://www.thesangaiexpress.com/Encyc/2021/3/17/IMPHAL-Mar-17The-3-day-Leadership-Training-Program-of-Trade-Union-leaders-of-North-East-India-began-yesterday-at-the-hall-of-Kha-Drama-Party-in-Nambol-The-inaugural-programme-was-attended-by-Khois.html
  14. Ranganathan, S. (2004) Trade Union movement in India: In the aftermath of privatization
  15. Preeti kapuria and Arka Chakrabarti, Role of trade unions in improving social security and productivity Evidence from India and Philippines, https://www.orfonline.org/expert-speak/role-of-trade-unions-in-improving-social-security-and-productivity/
  16. Ibid
  17. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/trade-unions-support-farmers-agitation-saying-bharat-bandh-on-dec-8-successful/articleshow/79680559.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst
  18. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/trade-unions-to-organise-rally-against-unbundling-of-bseb/articleshow/2698850.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst
  19. http://citucentre.org/journals/working-class , Vol. 50 No. 8 April 2020 (e - Edition)
  20. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/Political-parties-trade-unions-protest-against-demonetisation/article16656769.ece
  21. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/indl-goods/svs/metals-mining/coal-india-trade-unions-plan-3-day-strike-next-month-against-commercial-mining/articleshow/76386032.cms´╗┐


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