A trade union can be seen as a group of employees in a particular sector, whose aim is to negotiate with employers over pay, job security, working hours, etc, using the collective power of its members.
Features of trade unions:
1. It is an association either of employers or employees or of independent workers. They may consist of :-
* Employers’ association
* General labor unions
* Friendly societies
* Unions of intellectual labor
2. It is formed on a continuous basis. It is a permanent body and not a casual or temporary one. They persist throughout the year.
3. It is formed to protect and promote all kinds of interests -economic, political and social-of its members.
Objectives Of Trade Unions
Trade unions are formed to protect and promote the interests of their members. Their primary function is to protect the interests of workers against discrimination and unfair labor practices. Trade unions are formed to achieve the following objectives:
Trade unions represent individual workers when they have a problem at work. If an employee feels he is being unfairly treated, he can ask the union representative to help sort out the difficulty with the manager or employer. Unions also offer their members legal representation. 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.
Negotiation is where union representatives, discuss with management, the issues which affect people working in an organization. There may be a difference of opinion between management and union members. Trade unions negotiate with the employers to find out a solution to these differences. Pay, working hours, holidays and changes to working practices are the sorts of issues that are negotiated. 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. In these organizations, unions are said to be recognized for collective bargaining purposes.
Voice in decisions affecting workers
The economic security of employees is determined not only by the level of wages and duration of their employment, but also by the management’s personal policies which include selection of employees for lay offs, retrenchment, promotion and transfer. These policies directly affect workers. The evaluation criteria for such decisions may not be fair. 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.
During the last few years, trade unions have increased the range of services they offer their members. These include:
Reasons For Joining Trade Unions
The important forces that make the employees join a union are as follows:
1. Greater Bargaining Power
The individual employee possesses very little bargaining power as compared to that of his employer. If he is not satisfied with the wage and other conditions of employment, he can leave the job. It is not practicable to continually resign from one job after another when he is dissatisfied. This imposes a great financial and emotional burden upon the worker. The better course for him is to join a union that can take concerted action against the employer. The threat or actuality of a strike by a union is a powerful tool that often causes the employer to accept the demands of the workers for better conditions of employment.
2. Minimize Discrimination
The decisions regarding pay, work, transfer, promotion, etc. are highly subjective in nature. The personal relationships existing between the supervisor and each of his subordinates may influence the management. Thus, there are chances of favoritisms and discriminations. A trade union can compel the management to formulate personnel policies that press for equality of treatment to the workers. All the labor decisions of the management are under close scrutiny of the labor union. This has the effect of minimizing favoritism and discrimination.
3. Sense of Security
The employees may join the unions because of their belief that it is an effective way to secure adequate protection from various types of hazards and income insecurity such as accident, injury, illness, unemployment, etc. The trade union secure retirement benefits of the workers and compel the management to invest in welfare services for the benefit of the workers.
4. Sense of Participation
The employees can participate in management of matters affecting their interests only if they join trade unions. They can influence the decisions that are taken as a result of collective bargaining between the union and the management.
Importance Of Trade Unions
Trade unions play an important role and are helpful in effective communication between the workers and the management. They provide the advice and support to ensure that the differences of opinion do not turn into major conflicts. Seeking a healthy and safe working environment is also prominent feature of union activity.
Trade unions help in accelerated pace of economic development in many ways as follows:
* by helping in the recruitment and selection of workers.
* by inculcating discipline among the workforce
* by enabling settlement of industrial disputes in a rational manner
* by helping social adjustments. Workers have to adjust themselves to the new working conditions, the new rules and policies. Workers coming from different backgrounds may become disorganized, unsatisfied and frustrated. Unions help them in such adjustment.
Important social responsibilities of trade unions include:
promoting and maintaining national integration by reducing the number of industrial disputes
incorporating a sense of corporate social responsibility in workers
achieving industrial peace
Why Employees Join Unions
Individuals join unions for many different reasons, and these reasons tend to change over time. They may involve dissatisfaction with management, need for a social outlet, opportunity for leadership, forced
unionization, and peer pressure.
A union is an organization that represents employees’ interests to management on issues such as wages,
hours, and working conditions. Generally, employees seek to join a union when they
(1) are dissatisfied with aspects of their job,
(2) feel a lack of power or influence with management in terms of making changes, and
(3) see unionization as a solution to their problems.
a. Dissatisfaction with Management-Unions look for problems in organizations and then emphasize the advantages of union membership as a means of solving them. Management must exercise restraint and use its power to foster management and labor cooperation for the benefit of all concerned. Some reasons for employee dissatisfaction are described:
1. Compensation: If employees are dissatisfied with their wages, they may look to a union for assistance in improving their standard of living.
2. Job Security: If the firm doesn’t provide its employees with a sense of job security, workers may turn to a union. Employees are more concerned than ever about job security due to a decline in employment in such key industries as automobiles, rubber, and steel.
3. Management Attitude: Employees do not like to be subjected to arbitrary and capricious actions by management. In some firms, management is insensitive to the needs of its employees. When this situation occurs, employees may perceive that they have little or no influence in job-related matters, thus becoming prime targets for unionization.