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Merits and Demerits of Trade Unions

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Merits:

Trade unions have proved beneficial to the workers in the following ways:

(i) A strong trade union is a guarantee of industrial peace and makes for the stability of industry. Any decision agreed upon collectively by the workers is bound to command obedience of, and respect among, the general body of the workers.

(ii) By insisting on standard rates of wages, the unions have helped in weeding out inefficient employers. The industry is thus put on a sound footing.

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(iii) By mutual-help functions, the trade unions have considerably im­proved the efficiency of the workers. The leveling up of the wages has gone a long way in eradicating squalor and poverty from among the mass of workers.

(iv) The rise in labour costs, consequent on the increase of wages, has given a fillip to the introduction of labour-saving machinery. It has resulted in great technical advance.

Demerits:

On the other hand, the trade unions have been subjected to severe criticism, particularly due to some of their anti-social activities.

The following are some of these charges:

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(i) By undue insistence on the payment of standard rates of wages, they have only levelled down .the earnings of the superior workers.

(ii) They have adopted a hostile attitude towards rationalization or improved methods of production lest some workers should have to go out of work. This attitude has retarded technical progress and reduced national income,

(iii) They often advocate a go-slow policy, which ultimately recoils on labour by reducing the national income and the volume of employment.

(iv) Intoxicated with their strength, the unions have sometimes launched strikes on flimsy grounds and done incalculable harm to themselves, the producers, and the community generally.

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(v) They create artificial scarcity of labour by demanding that only union personnel should be employed.

Conclusion:

On the whole, the unions have supplied a felt want and filled an important gap. It can easily be seen that in their absence the workers would have been ruthlessly exploited. If the masses suffer, does the nation gain?

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