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Trade Union Movement in India: 8 Major Defects


The defects are: 1. Limited Membership 2. Small-sized Unions 3. Poor Finances 4. Outside Leadership 5. Political Affiliation 6. Neglect of Beneficent Activities 7. Inefficiency 8. Luck of Work Culture.     

Defect # 1. Limited Membership:

From the very beginning trade unions in India can enlist only a small fraction of work force of the industrial sector as its member. In 1963-64, membership of the trade unions in India was limited to only 50 per cent of the total workers in mines and 40 per cent in plantations. Even today, the membership of the trade unions in India is far below as compared to that of around 90 per cent in countries like U.K., U.S.A. etc.

Defect # 2. Small-sized Unions:

In India, the number of small sized unions has been increasing at a fast rate. In India, there are more than 45 thousand registered trade unions and about three-fourth of the unions have a membership of less than 500. This has weakened the base of the movement and therefore these unions are not in a position to run collective bargaining negotiations properly.

Defect # 3. Poor Finances:


The financial condition of the trade unions in India is not at all sound. Due to limited membership, the fund raising capacity of these unions is very limited. Due to scarcity of fund, these unions still failed to engage full-time officials for conducting regular works such as organisation, research and negotiations and also failed to undertake social welfare schemes.

Defect # 4. Outside Leadership:

Another major defect of the trade union movement in India is that its leadership is in the hand of professional politician. But experience suggests that the performance of the union would be best if leadership comes from the workers itself instead of outside leadership.

Leadership from within their own ranks can serve interests of the workers as they possess complete knowledge about the condition of working class. The secret of the success or the trade union movement in England is that they have always selected their leader from within their rank. But unfortunately, in India trade unions are having their leaders mostly from outside who are again professional politicians.

Defect # 5. Political Affiliation:

Trade unions in India are mostly having political affiliations. Political affiliations have led to rivalries among the unions which ultimately jeopardies the interest of the workers in general. Accordingly, sometimes policies and actions of some major trade unions have been finalised with non-union considerations.

Defect # 6. Neglect of Beneficent Activities:


Trade unions in India have failed to improve the loyalty of workers, Trade unions are very much concentrated with organising strikes or collective bargaining but they have ignored the beneficial activities such as provision of medical and sickness relief, help to widows or dependents, educational and cultural activities, recreation etc.

Defect # 7. Inefficiency:

Trade union movement in India has also failed to improve the nature and quality of workers. Inefficiency in the working of the trade unions has resulted from illiteracy and ignorance of the workers, migratory character of the workers, differences between workers in respect of language, caste, creed and customs, their low wage level and low capacity to pay subscriptions etc.

Defect # 8. Luck of Work Culture:

Trade unions in India have mostly failed to develop work culture, which is very much important for the growth of the industry, in general. Lack of sincerity, devotion, interest, etc. towards their normal duty is very much rampant among the workers of the country.

The Second Plan mentioned the major defects of the trade union movements – “Multiplicity of trade unions, political rivalries, lack of resources and disunity in the ranks of workers are some of the major weaknesses in a number of existing unions.”

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