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WHAT IS A TRADE UNION?

A trade union is an association of employees who have common interests and have formed an organisation with the purpose of protecting and promoting their interests through collective negotiation with their employers. The process of negotiation between a trade union and an employer is known as bargaining. Employees who join a trade union pay membership fees. The amount is determined by the regulations of the trade union and in many cases the employees wages or salary.

Members of a trade union who are employed at the same workplace or live in the same environment form a local branch of the trade union. Each branch elects a trade union representative who acts as spokesperson. The member who is elected to the position is known as the representative or shop steward. Members of large trade unions also elect regional representatives and a national management committee a committee that acts on behalf of its members. The national management committee is usually elected at an annual conference of the trade union at which delegates from all the regional branches are present. Trade unions are directed towards protecting the rights of the employees. Problems may occur from time to time in any working environment. When this happens, the employee needs someone to protect his interests or present his case. Trade unions provide their members with legal advice, as well as someone who can present the members case, act on behalf of all employees and has the support of the national committee.

What can the employee expect from his trade union?

To engage in negotiations with the employer with regard to remuneration, work hours, holidays, the method of payment, allowances, overtime pay and retirement and pension benefits. To represent the employee during negotiations when serious problems develop at work, e.g. when the employee claims to have been treated or disciplined unfairly, or that his complaints have not received due consideration. To negotiate improved working conditions, e.g. when the employee is exposed to health and safety risks such as harmful gases, dangerous machinery, or even inadequate toilet facilities. To negotiate protection for the employee when there is a threat of dismissal or redundancy. To assist in matters related to unemployment insurance. To ensure that part-time employees are treated fairly. As a member of the trade union, the employee is also entitled to other benefits, such as legal advice and legal representation, certain cash benefits and other services, as well as the opportunity to attend trade union training courses.

Trade union organisations are divided into four types:

Trade unions for GENERAL WORKERS, representing all kinds of employees across a wide front, both skilled and unskilled, e.g. the Transport and General Workers Union. Trade unions for TRADESMEN, representing employees with particular skills such as cabinet-makers, etc. Trade unions for INDUSTRIAL WORKERS, representing skilled and unskilled workers in a particular industry, e.g. employees in the paper- and pulp-manufacturing industry. Trade unions for WHITE-COLLAR WORKERS, representing employees who are not involved in manual-skills occupations, e.g. teachers.

Objectives Trade Unions are organised for protection and promotion of interests of their members in particular and workers in general. It generally pursue the following broad objectives. (1) Steady employment:- Steady employment is something which the employer by himself may not be able to guarantee to the workers. Achievement of this aspiration may thus involve workers in political action, through their unions, for maintenance of full employment. (2) Rationalisation of personnel policies:- The economic security of an employee is determined not only by level of wages and duration of his employment but also by managements personnel policies - in its selection of employees for lay off, retrenchment, transfer and promotion, the assignment of employees to jobs etc. if these decisions are based on subjective evaluation, there is no security for workers. If such decisions are governed by rules and rational policies, there is greater assurance for fair treatment. (3) Voice in decisions affecting workers:- workers may successfully pressurise for higher wages workers want to know what his chances are for continued attachment to the company. What is the success of the company to him if in transferring the plant, say, from Delhi to Ghaziabad he is laid off? The intervention of trade union in such decisions of management is the only method by which the workers is able to achieve any degree of control over the affairs that concern him. (4) Recognition and participation:- Another objective that unions seek to achieve is winning recognition for workers that they are equal partners with management in the task of production. It is an intellectual quality that is the intellectual faculties of workers are no inferior to those of management. (5) Gaining legislative enactments:- To Provide legal sanctions to its demands, the unions attempt to get these framed in form of Acts so that they become permanent features of the contract between employers and workers. (6) Miscellaneous Services:- Modern trade union also engage in providing educational, medical, recreational and other facilities for development and welfare of their members.

. Provision of benefits to members: Early trade unions, like Friendly Societies, often provided a range of benefits to insure members against unemployment, ill health, old age and funeral expenses. In many developed countries, these functions have been assumed by the state; however, the provision of professional training, legal advice and representation for members is still an important benefit of trade union membership. 2. Collective bargaining: Where trade unions are able to operate openly and are recognized by employers, they may negotiate with employers over wages and working conditions. 3. Industrial action: Trade unions may enforce strikes or resistance to lockouts in furtherance of particular goals. 4. Political activity: Trade unions may promote legislation favorable to the interests of their members or workers as a whole. To this end they may pursue campaigns, undertake lobbying, or financially support individual candidates or parties (such as the Labour Party in Britain) for public office. 5. Representation: 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. 6. Negotiation: Negotiation is where union representatives, discuss with management, the 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. 7. 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 managements 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. 8. Member services: During the last few years, trade unions have increased the range of services they offer their members. These include: a) Education and training Most unions run training courses for their members on employment rights, health and safety and other issues. Some unions also help members who have left school with little education by offering courses on basic skills and courses leading to professional qualifications. b) Legal assistance As well as offering legal advice on employment issues, some unions give help with personal matters, like housing, wills and debt. c) Financial discounts People can get discounts on mortgages, insurance and loans from unions. 9. Welfare benefits One of the earliest functions of trade unions was to look after members who hit hard times. Some of the older unions offer financial help to their members when they are sick or unemployed.

For the achievement of the above mentioned objectives, the trade Unions generally perform the following functions:1. Collective bargaining with the management to settle terms and conditions of employment. 2. Advise the management on personnel policies and practices. 3. Taking up the individual and collective grievances of the workers with the management. 4. Work for achieving better say of workers in the management of affairs of the enterprise which influence the lives of the workers directly. 5. Organising demonstrations, strikes, etc, to press demands of workers. 6. Education of workers and their children. 7. Welfare and recreational activities for their members. 8. Representing of workers in various national and international forums. 9. Securing legislative protection for workers from the government.

Trade Union Benefits


Trade Union. Benefits are available to those who are members of a Trade Union. These benefits include: 1. Bargaining Power Trade Union members have the skills and experience of the whole Trade Union behind them. This can be essential when management and workers are negotiating wage rises, overtime, or trying to protect jobs. 2. Workers Rghts Workers have the right not to be discriminated against for any reason at all. Common types of discrimination include age, gender, sexuality, religion, colour, race, and politics. 3. Campaigns The TGWU campaigns range from national campaigns that affect all workers in every sector in every industry, such as pensions, or the minimum wage, to campaigns that may only affect a comparatively much smaller number of workers, such as a factory closure, or a call centre mobbing its operations abroad. 4. Other Benefits In addition Trade Union members have other useful benefits such as legal representation such as in tribunals or other disciplinary hearings. Trade Unions are also involved in policy research for Government, and other countries.

The Trade Union Advantage

Trade unions are organisations made up of members who are mainly workers. It is one of a trade unions primary goals to protect and promote the interests and welfare of its members. Most trade unions that exist are independent of employers. However, these organisations do strive to develop good working relationships with the companies or businesses that employ their members. Sometimes, this can result in a partnership agreement between the trade union and an employer. Some of the services that trade unions provide to their members are: negotiating agreements regarding wages and working conditions; discussing major workplace changes like large scale redundancy; discussing the concerns of members with employers; accompanying members to grievance and disciplinary meetings; providing members with financial and legal advice; and providing members education facilities as well as certain consumer benefits like discounts on insurance. Members of trade unions can also benefit from training and other learning activities sponsored or provided by the organisations. Trade unions are not limited to representing the interests of their members in the workplace. They can also lobby the government and other public bodies in order to ask for the creation of policies which can promote their goals. As a worker, it would be in your best interest to become a member of a trade union for your profession. This can significantly increase your chances of becoming successful in your chosen field since there would be others who would look out for you and advance your welfare. Find out how you can join a trade union in your workplace and the benefits that it can give you by consulting with your colleagues.

Role of trade unions in wage determination


In many markets the demand and supply of labour are affected by the actions of the trade unions and the government. Such interventions produce imperfections in the labour market.

Role of trade unions


A trade union or labour union is an organization of workers who have banded together to achieve common goals in key areas such as wages, hours, and working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with employers. This may include the negotiation of wages, work rules, complaint procedures, rules governing hiring, firing and promotion of workers, benefits, workplace safety and policies.

Affect of Trade unions on Labour Market

Looking at this graph, At the equilibrium wage, the quantity of labour employed is L.

A strong trade union can force up wages to Wu. Number of jobs offered by employers falls to Lu. At this wage the number of people who would like to work is higher (Lc) This will lead to a shortfall between who can actually want to work and those who can actually work.

1Collective Bargaining Aim to raise wages=MPPxMR. Economic factors affecting: aThe elasticity of the final product bThe proportion of labour costs to total cThe ease of factor substitution

dLevel of profits eMacroeconomic influences fState of the economy(economic growth - wage rises easier) gInflation 2Political action to enforce laws(young employment,elderly,safety) 3Union markup 10% 4restricts apprentices 5closed shop illegal 6equality

Labour relations in the UK


1/2(13m)in 1970,1/3(9.5m)now belong to unions No.of strikes&belonging to unions has fallen significantly after 1980(coz supply side) Majority of strikes is for higher wages Sympathetic strikes(support other unions,illegal)and political strikes are rare in UK 1975Employment protection act favoured unions,union density up to 55%,now45% Regional policy-Cumulative decline - history of trade unions discourage new firms enter UK hasn't done as well as other West-European countries coz unions

Since conserve
1Employment act 1980 outlawed secondary picketing 2Trade union act1984 PRESTRIKE BALLOT(employer makes a better offer after ballot),5year representative ballot 3Restrictive labour practices - closed shop,now unlawful 41970-4 2900,1990-3 350stoppages/year.14m,<1m days lost 5pay inequality rose(1/5 income10%in79,6%in92,richest35%79,43%92, female75%88,80%94,

av.wages2.7x80in94) 6more flexible markets(inequality&many lowpaid parttime jobs)

anumerical-atypical cheap labour,effective plant operation(24h),stress,high turnover,unmotivated,lot in UK bfunctional-adopts to demand,range of products with same workforce,investment in human capital,high wage,core labour,good when demand stable 7wage councils abolished 8public sector pay frozen

Effects to productivity Adv


1Union supports management efficiency 2Encourages cooperation 3Improving communications by collective voice

Disadv
1No techics 2No organisational change 3Wrong working rules 4Overstaffing 5Demarcation(ships)-maintain demand for labour

membership declines
1Recession&unemployment fear factor 2rising real w ages&low inflation 3antiunion legislation(supply-side) 4younger workforce 5less co.s recognise unions(success rate)(manufacture declines,firms that recognised haven't closed,new firms dont recognise-aggressive management) 6more private sector 7competition,IT 8contracting-out of manual services in public co 9high among teacher 10many co.birth 11part-time work

Types
1craft-similar job(NGA) 2industrial union-open to all in industry(NUM)

3general-all unskilled(TGWU) 4white collar(NUteachers) 5TUC-trade union congress(general represen)

What is the role of trade unions in industrial disputes?


Most 'collective bargaining' takes place quietly and agreements are quickly reached by the union and the employer. Occasionally disagreements do occur and the two sides cannot agree. In these cases the union may decide to take industrial action. Industrial action takes different forms. It could mean an over time ban, a work-to-rule or a strike. There are strict laws which unions have to follow when they take industrial action. A strike is only called as a last resort. Strikes are often in the news but are rare. Both sides have a lot to lose. Employers lose income because of interruptions to production or services. Employees lose their salaries and may find that their jobs are at risk.

Usually employers and employees will go to some lengths to avoid the costs of strike action to both groups. Photolibrary Group

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) is often used to help find a solution to a dispute which is acceptable to both sides.