What are Trade Unions

Trade Unions- what are trade unions, and why is it important to understand their functioning

Dealing With Trade Unions

A union is maintained for a specific purpose for protecting the interests of its members. It is basically an association of employees that represents them and take care of the relationship with their employer.  It is necessary for an employer to establish and maintain good relations with the unions as the unions are the most sensitive but also an important part for the company.

Earlier when productive group were used to be small the worker had no secured place and was also replaced when he was no longer useful to the company. Hence the employer’s attitude was that of taking out benefits from a particular worker and throwing them out of the company when their supplies met the demands in the market. The employer used to tell the terms and conditions of service in a dominant way. The trade unions were formed when the workers realised that they should help themselves as they used to receive inhumane treatment, filthy and unsafe conditions of working environment and very low wages in comparison to work done per day. Yes, we can say that Unity became strength and Trade Unions were formed.

As a result of formation of Trade Unions the workers were started being treated in a good and humanely way and then they were not also treated as some tool or machine. Working hours were shortened and wages were increased. The most important step of providing safety was duly taken care off and leaves were also granted. Thus, it can be seen that when a worker joins a trade union and starts asking for their requirements and improvements collectively, he is surely listened and must be listened or else your company may fall into a critical danger.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions about the trade unions. The reason being because of the mindset of the employers as they don’t understand that trade unions are formed only to protect the workers and protect their working conditions. Employer should never get aggressive or nervous on the formation of the workers as it is a fundamental right of the workers or employees and it is also guaranteed by the Constitution of India. Moreover, the workers also realize that if they bargain individually there will be less impact on the employer than bargaining in collectively or in a group. Also, in some situations, an individual may not be able to put his thoughts or defend his interests whereas a group can. Therefore, workers noticed an advantage of organising themselves and then to protect each other rights. An illuminated employer also finds an advantage to deal with trade unions as being a group rather than to deal with an individual.

A trade union is a very necessary and also a natural part for workers to secure their dignity and protection at work. The union is also known as the ‘natural protective agency’ against arbitrary and unjust decisions. In fact it is not always necessary that first a trade union will be formed then workers will start working. If the policies are clear and fair, if communications are transparent and if the objective of the company is not vague, there should be no need for the workers to collaborate and form unions.

Consequently, the employer should not feel it as a disappointment if a ‘good employee joins the union or even if he leads a union as then an employee has two responsibilities towards the organisation and another to the union. A good ‘unionist’ can still be a ‘good employee’. There is a difference between behaviour and intentions and so as an employee watch the behaviour of the employer not the intentions. They react to the behaviour. And also there is always the difference between the way the manager perceives himself and how others have the perception about him. So, it is advisable to always maintain healthy relationships with every employee of the organisation. The decision of the employees to join the trade unions or not should never effect the internal matter of an organisation. The formation and choice of a union is no business of the employer. Also such an interference leads to unfair labour practice under section 2(r) of Industrial Disputes Act.

Now, we should understand the difference between registration of a union and its recognition. Registration is an act of the members of the union by which government sets up the union and attains legal identity and status. The trade unions are registered under Trade Unions Act, 1926. On the other hand, recognition is an act of the employer where he agrees to treat  a certain union as the representative of all the establishment of workmen. Even, The Public Sector Undertakings have instructed the Department of Public Enterprises to recognize the trade unions under Code of Discipline in Industry.

Organising efforts of trade unions should not interfere with work and management. Management should use worker complaints to improve the quality of its administration. If the situation leads to slow work or strikes you do not need to panic and you need to negotiate and keep appreciating their utility. Though very few workers can afford strikes as it is clearly mentioned by the Supreme Court that no wages will be payable even when the strike is legal and justified. Moreover any management-union discussion should achieve at a discussion by which both parties gain and none loose.

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