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Objectives of Trade Union

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Everything you need to know about the objectives of trade union. A trade union is a formal form of association of workers that promotes the harmonious relationship between employer and employees.

As per Sydney and Beatrice Webb’s “a trade union is a continuous association of wage earners for the purpose of maintaining and improving the conditions of their working lives”.

The primary objective of trade unions is to promote and protect the interests of its members. Besides a trade union has also to accomplish certain social responsibilities.

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It must be remembered that a trade union besides fighting for the rights of workers must also see to it that they are discharging their responsibilities towards assigned work.

The different objectives of trade union are:-

1. Economic Objectives 2. Non-Economic Objectives 3. Short-Term Objectives 4. Long-Term Objectives.

Additionally, learn about the objectives of important trade unions in India.


Objectives of Trade Union: Economic, Non-Economic, Short-Term and Long-Term Objectives

Objectives of Trade Union – 11 Important Objectives

A trade union is a formal form of association of workers that promotes the harmonious relationship between employer and employees. As per Sydney and Beatrice Webb’s “a trade union is a continuous association of wage earners for the purpose of maintaining and improving the conditions of their working lives”.

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G.D.H. Cole defines, “a trade union means an association of workers in one or more occupations, an association carried on mainly for the purpose of protecting and advancing the member’s economic interests in connection with their daily work”. According to Lester, “a trade union is an association of employees designated primarily to maintain and improve the conditions of employment of its members.”

From the above definitions of trade unions it should be observed that the basic aim of trade union is to regulate terms and conditions of employment of its members.

The Indian trade Unions Act, 1926 in Section 2(b) defines trade union as, “any Combination, whether temporary or permanent, formed primarily for the purpose of regulating the relations between workmen and employer or between workmen and workmen or between employers and employers or for importing restrictive conditions on the conduct of any trade or business, and includes any federation of two or more trade unions.”

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This definition of trade union indicates that the:

1. Trade union is an association, either of employees or employers or of independent workers.

2. It is a relatively permanent combination of workers. It is not a temporary or casual formative of workers.

3. The association of workers engaged in securing certain economic and social benefits to members.

4. It includes a federation of trade unions also.

5. The character of trade union is not static in nature; it is dynamic because it has been constantly changing.

6. Its origin and growth has been influenced by a number of ideologies.

According to this Act, it is the responsibility of trade union is to protect and promote the interests of the workers and the conditions of their employment generally the workers are interested in high wages, less working hours, improved working conditions and job security. By the promulgation of this Act, the government has assured the industrial workers freedom to organize and adopt lawful means to promote their rights and interests.

The classical theory, Neo-Classical theory and Revolutionary theory are associated with the origin and purpose of trade union movement. An individual worker or employee may not be able to organize and define his interests. A trade union is meant to negotiate on behalf of the individual workers in respect of several issues.

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The important objectives of a trade union are as follows:

1. To regulate terms and conditions of employment

2. To improve the working conditions at work place.

3. To raise the living standards of workers.

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4. To protect the workers by exploitation of management.

5. To help in maintenance of discipline of organisation/industry

6. To ensure the proper implementation of personnel and welfare policies.

7. To replace managerial dictator ship by worker’s democracy

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8. To establish industrial peace by improving employees and employers relations.

9. To act as a best negotiator machinery.

10. To safeguard the interest of organisation and organisational health.

11. In a broader sense, to protect the interests and welfare of workers.

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In nut shell, the trade union serve the aims of both workers and management in the organisation. Why do workers join a trade union?

The workers join a trade union because they want:

(i) To get economic and social security;

(ii) To check the management from taking any action which is irrational, illogical and discriminatory against workers;

(iii) To establish two ways of communication system by which they are able to communicate their view, feeling, ideas and frustrations to the management;

(iv) To get protection against uncontrolled economic hazards;

(v) To show their solidity against management; and

(vi) To gain respect in the eyes of their colleagues.


Objectives of Trade Union – 2 Primary Objectives that Contribute Success of an Enterprise: Economic Objectives and Non-Economic Objectives

The primary objective of trade unions is to promote and protect the interests of its members. Besides a trade union has also to accomplish certain social responsibilities. It must be remembered that a trade union besides fighting for the rights of workers must also see to it that they are discharging their responsibilities towards assigned work.

In order to contribute to the success of an enterprise it has to accomplish the following two sets of objectives:

1. Economic objectives.

2. Non-economic objectives.

Objective # 1. Economic:

(i) To secure better wages for workers in keeping with the prevailing standard of living and the cost of living in the country.

(ii) To ensure stable employment for workers by fighting against the rationalization plans.

(iii) To secure a part of the increased prosperity by industry for their members in the form of bonus.

(iv) To attain better condition for the workers by procuring shorter working hours, leave with wages, social security benefits and other welfare facilities.

(v) To offer responsive cooperation in improving levels of production and productivity discipline and standards of quality.

(vi) To cooperate in and facilitate technological advance by broadening the understanding of workers on underlying issues.

(vii) To foster a sense of self-respect and dignity among the workers.

(viii) To enlarge opportunities for promotion and training.

Thus it is imperative that unions keep the well-being and progress of the community constantly in their mind even in the midst of their end avers to help the working class.

Objective # 2. Non-Economic:

Unions have a state in success of the national plans for economic development since these are formulated and implemented as much for maximizing production for distributing the products in an equitable manner. Unions have to adapt themselves to the changing social needs and rise above divisive forces of caste, creed, religion and language and indeed in this regard the role of unions has been creditable.

It is only thus that they can progressively become instrument for constructive purpose. In this context “some of the important social responsibilities of trade unions” appear to be in field of –

(i) Promotion of national integration.

(ii) Influencing the socio-economic policies of the community through active participation in their formulation at various levels.

(iii) Instilling in members a sense of responsibilities towards industry and the community.

It does not however imply that the trade unions in every country are required to perform the above listed objectives the performance of these objectives in feet is influenced by factors such as the level of industrial development in the country, political and social conditions prevailing in the country, etc.

Thus the attainments of a trade union in a developing nation need not be the same as those in industrially advanced nations. As a matter of feet the objectives and functions of trade union are governed by local conditions.


Objectives of Trade Union – 2 Main Categories: Short-Term Objectives and Long-Term Objectives

The objectives of trade unions may be classified into two main categories:

(1) Short-term objectives and

(2) Long-term objectives.

(1) Short-Term Objectives:

Short-term objectives of trade unions generally relate to the terms and conditions of employment and working conditions at the workplace. Some of specific short-term objectives are as follows – (i) increase in wages and other monetary emoluments; (ii) reduction in and rationalisation of hours of work; (iii) improvement of physical working conditions; (iv) job security; (v) provision of fringe benefits and welfare amenities; (vi) income security in the event of contingencies of life; (vii) fairness in dealing with personnel matters; (viii) arrangements for settlement of disputes and grievances and (ix) useful workers’ participation in management. The priorities with regard to adoption of specific short-term objectives vary widely depending on the requirements of particular unions at particular points of time.

(2) Long-Term Objectives:

The long-term objectives of trade unions vary from country to country, depending largely on the extent of unionisation, nature of union leadership, political framework of the country and the extent of influence of social and political ideologies and cultural factors on the working class.

Some more common long-term objectives of trade unions include the following – (i) establishment of socialism; (ii) expansion of political power and liaison with pro-labour political parties; (iii) enactment of pro-labour laws; (iv) provision of adequate social security and welfare measures for workers at the instance of the state and (v) withdrawal of governments’ anti-labour economic and industrial policies and measures.

Both the short- and long-term objectives of trade unions vary from country to country and from time to time and in the same country. A particular objective may be prominent in one country, while it may be of less significance in another country. Similarly, a trade union may give importance to one set of objectives at one point of time, but subsequently, another objective may acquire prominence.

In regard to the objectives of trade unions, the views of Samuel Gompers, the founder president of the American Federation of Labour (AFL), deserves a particular mention. He says, “Trade unions … were born of necessity of workers to protect and defend themselves from encroachment, injustice, and wrong … to protect the workers in their inalienable right to higher and better life; to protect their lives, their limbs, health, their homes, their firesides, their liberties as men, as workers, as citizens; to overcome and conquer prejudice and antagonism; to secure them the right to life, and the opportunity to maintain that life, the right to be full sharers in the abundance which is the result of their brain and brawn, and the civilisation of which they are the founders and the mainstay.”


Objectives of Trade Union – How Trade Union Objectives are Achieved?

The objectives of a trade union are achieved by a pursuit of traditional methods.

These are:

(i) The organisation of a trade union on the basis of the craft or industry in which its members are employed, such as general unions and professional employees’ organizations;

(ii) Recognition of a trade union as the only bargaining agent; that is, it is only a representative union which is entitled to advocate the interests of its members. This recognition may be voluntarily forthcoming from a management or forced upon it by its employees; or it may be gained by secret ballot, each member voting in favour of the trade union which he wants to be recognised by the management. In these circumstances, the trade union which is favoured by a majority of the workers in an industry is the one which is recognised by the management;

(iii) Collective bargaining, which is the essence of industrial relations, for it is through collective bargaining that the terms and conditions of employment are determined and under which work is performed satisfactorily;

(iv) Union security, which is achieved through a closed shop or a union shop or an agency shop arrangement or some such similar arrangement which gives a trade union control of the hiring, the supervision and the discharge of workers.

(v) Grievance processing and handling procedures, under which grievances are redressed or dealt with by a correction of the situation or by a channeling up of these “up the line”. When a grievance reaches the chief executive officer, it has to be satisfactorily dealt with by him or sent to an outside statutory agency for settlement.

(vi) Negotiated agreements with the management. These negotiations deal with wages, hours of work, other terms and conditions of employment, personal and job security, increased employee benefits, medical assistance, retirement benefits, and so on;

(vii) Arbitration, by which unsettled or unresolved disputes can be settled by an outside agency;

(viii) Political pressure exercised through legislators who are capable of bringing about changes in labour laws; and

(ix) Mutual insurance thorough common contributions to meet the financial needs of workers when there are stoppages of work.

Most of the trade unions have not effectively participated in achieving these objectives because:

(a) Of lack of awareness on their part of the importance of mutual insurance;

(b) Till recently, most trade unions have been “resistance organisation”, and have been looked upon by employers with hostility and distrust;

(c) They suffer from class conflicts, divergent interests, inter-union and intra-union rivalries, multiplicity, financial weakness, outside leadership, and ignorance of the needs of the rank and file of their members; and

(d) Of the lack of education, cultural backwardness, and social and linguistic heterogeneity of their membership.


Objectives of a Trade Union – 4 Broad Objectives

Trade unions are unique organizations whose role is variously interpreted and understood by different interest groups in the society. The purpose of including this topic is to help HR managers in dealing with unions, by using this knowledge.

Employee associations constitute one of the stakeholders in industrial relations. These associations are popularly known as trade unions. Trade unions are not confined to more striking and negotiating on behalf of workers. Their role is much wider. Unions, for example, may make their presence felt in recruitment and selection. They may also decide who is to be hired and under what conditions.

Unions can also play an important role in deciding who is to be promoted, given a new job assignment, sent for training, terminated or laid-off. Many programmes which contribute to QWL and productivity are undertaken by the management in consultation with and with the co-operation of the unions.

Unions decide wage and salary structure and negotiate revisions once in three or five years. Major unions have political affiliations too. And the role of unions in industrial relations is too well-known. It is, therefore, essential that we discuss trade unions in detail.

Trade unions have broad objectives, which are:

(1) To redress the bargaining advantage of the individual workers vis-a-vis the individual employer, by substituting joint or collective action for individual action.

(2) To secure improved terms and conditions of employment for their members and the maximum degree of security to enjoy these terms and conditions.

(3) To obtain improved status for the worker in his work, and

(4) To increase the extent to which unions can exercise democratic control over decisions that affect their interests by power sharing at the national, corporate, and plant levels.

The union power is exerted primarily at two levels – (i) at the industry level, to establish joint regulation on basic wages and working hours with an employer’s association or its equivalent, and (ii) at the plant level, where the shop stewards’ organizations exercise joint control over some aspects of the organization of the work and localised terms and conditions of employment.

Unions are a party to national, local, and plant procedure agreements which govern their actions to a greater or lesser extent, depending on their power, and on local circumstances.


Objectives of Trade Union – In India

I. All-India Trade Union Congress:

The most important year in the history of Indian Trade Union Movement is 1920, when the All-India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) was formed, consequent upon the necessity of electing delegates for the International Labour Organisation (ILO). This is the first All-India Trade Union in the country.

The first meeting of the AITUC was held in October 1920 at Bombay under the Presidentship of Lala Lajpat Rai. Formation of AITUC led to the establishment of All-India Railwaymen’s Federation (AIRF) in 1922. Many company Railway Unions were affiliated to it. Signs of militant tendency and revolutionary ideas were apparent during this period.

The basic objectives of the AITUC are:

(i) To establish a socialist state in India;

(ii) To socialize and nationalize means of production, distribution and exchange;

(iii) To ameliorate the economic and social conditions of the working class;

(iv) To watch, promote and further the interests, rights and privileges of the workers in all matters relating to their employment;

(v) To secure and maintain for the workers the freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of association, freedom of assembly, the right to strike and the right to work and maintenance;

(vi) To coordinate the activities of the labour unions affiliated to the AITUC;

(vii) To abolish political or economic advantage based on caste, creed, community, race or religion; and

(viii) To secure and maintain for the workers the right to strike.

II. Indian National Trade Union Congress:

The efforts of the Indian National Congress resulted in the establishment of Indian National Trade Congress (INTUC) by bringing the split in the AITUC. INTUC started gaining membership from its inception itself.

The objectives of INTUC are:

(i) To place industry under national ownership and control in a suitable form;

(ii) To secure increasing association of workers in the administration of industry and their full participation in that control;

(iii) To organise society in such a manner as to ensure full employment and the best utilization of its manpower and other resources;

(iv) To promote social, civic and political interest of the working class;

(v) To establish just industrial relations;

(vi) To secure redressal of grievances, without stoppage of work, by means of negotiation, conciliation and failing these, arbitration and adjudication;

(vii) To take-other-legislative methods, including strikes or any suitable form of satyagraha where adjudication is not applied and settlement of disputes within reasonable time by arbitration is not available for the redressal of grievances;

(viii) To make necessary arrangements for the efficient conduct and satisfactory and speedy conclusion of authorized strikes of satyagraha;

(ix) To foster the spirit of solidarity, service, brotherhood, cooperation and mutual help among the workers;

(x) To develop in the workers a sense of responsibility towards industry and the community; and

(xi) To raise the workers standard of efficiency and discipline.

III. Other Central Unions:

Socialists separated from AITUC had formed Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS) in 1948. The Indian Federation of Labour merged with the HMS. Radicals formed another union under the name of United Trade Union Congress in 1949. Thus, the trade union movement in the country was split up into four distinct central unions during the short span of 1946 to 1949.

Some other central unions were also formed. They are Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) in 1955. The Hind Mazdoor Panchayat (HMP) in 1965, The Centre of Indian Trade Union (CITU) in 1970. Thus, the splinter group of INTUC formed trade union — the split in the Congress particularly in 1969 resulted in the split in INTUC and led to the formation of National Labour Organisation (NLO).

1. Hind Mazdoor Sabha:

The objectives of Hind Mazdoor Sabha are:

(i) To organise and promote the establishment of a democratic socialist society in India and to further the economic, political, social and cultural interests of the Indian working class;

(ii) To provide full opportunities for the development of mental and physical personality of the workers;

(iii) To strive for getting a living wage to all workers;

(iv) To guarantee work to every worker;

(v) To get full social security measures and comprehensive medical care introduced by the industry for workers;

(vi) To get adequate leisure for the workers in the form of reasonable hours of work and holidays with pay;

(vii) To arrange for adequate housing facilities;

(viii) To arrange for the introduction of free and compulsory education and facilities for vocational guidance;

(ix) To get effective recognition of; the right of collective bargaining;

(x) To cooperate with other organizations in the country and outside, having similar aims and

(xi) To secure and maintain for workers freedom of association, freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, freedom of press and the right to strike.

2. Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh:

The objectives of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh are:

(i) “To establish the Bharatiya order of a classless society in which there shall be secured full employment; replacement of profit motive by service and establishment; of economic democracy; development of autonomous industrial communities — with each one of them consisting of all the individuals connected with the industry as partners”;

(ii) To assist workers in organising themselves in trade unions as a medium of service to the motherland irrespective of faiths and political affinities;

(iii) The right to strike, and

(iv) To inculcate in the minds of the workers the spirit of service, cooperation and dutifulness and develop in them a sense of responsibility towards the nation in general and the industry in particular

3. Hind Mazdoor Panchayat:

The objectives of Hind Mazdoor Panchayat are:

(i) “To organise and promote the establishment of a democratic socialist society in India and to further the economic, political, social and cultural interests of the Indian working class”;

(ii) To provide full opportunities for the development of mental and physical personality of the workers

(iii) To strive for getting a living wage to all workers;

(iv) To guarantee work to every worker:

(v) To get full social security measures and comprehensive medical care introduced by the industry

(vi) To get leisure for the workers in the form of reasonable hours of work and holiday with pay;

(vii) To arrange for adequate housing facilities;

(viii) To arrange for the introduction of free and compulsory education and facilities for vocational guidance;

(ix) To get effective recognition of the right of collective bargaining;

(x) To cooperate with other organizations in the country and outside having similar aims and objects; and

(xi) To secure and maintain for workers freedom of association, freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, freedom of press and the right to strike.

4. UTC:

The objectives of the UTC are:

i. To establish a socialist society in India;

ii. To establish a workers’ and peasants’ State in India;

iii. To nationalize and socialize pertaining the means of production, distribution and exchange;

iv. To safeguard and promote the interests, rights and privileges of the workers in all matters, social, cultural, economic and political;

v. To secure and maintain workers’ freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of association, freedom of assembly, right to strike, right to work or maintenance and the right to social security, and

vi. To bring out unity in the trade union movement.

5. National Front of Indian Trade Unions (NFITU):

The objectives of National Front of Indian Trade Unions (NFITU) are:

(i) To organise and unite trade unions with the object of building up a National Central Organisation of trade unions, independent of political parties, employers and the government, to further the cause of labour and that of national solidarity, security and defense of India, and to make the working people conscious of their rights as well as of obligations in all spheres of life;

(ii) To secure to members of trade unions full facilities of recognition and effective representation of interest of workers and to ensure for the working people fair conditions of life and service and progressively to raise their social, economic and cultural state and conditions;

(iii) To help in every possible way member trade unions in their fight to raise real wages of the workers; and

(iv) To endeavour to secure for members of affiliated trade unions adoption of progressive legislation for their welfare and to ensure the effective enforcement of the rights and interests of members of affiliated trade unions and for the working people in general.

The policies of Centre of Indian Trade Union (CITU) are:

(i) The CITU believes that the exploitation of the working class can be ended only by socialising all means of production, distribution and exchange and establishing a socialist state, that is. It stands for the complete emancipation of the society from all exploitation.

(ii) The CITU fights against all encroachments on the economic and social rights of the workers and the enlargement of their rights and liberties including the right to strike, for winning defending and extending the freedom of the democratic trade union movement.

(iii) In the fight for the immediate interest of the working class, the CITU demands-

(a) Nationalization of all foreign monopoly concerns who exploit the working class;

(b) Nationalization of all concerns owned by Indian monopolists and big industry which garner huge profits at the expense of the workers, who exploit the people by pegging prices at a high level and who dictate the anti-labour and anti-people policies of the Government.

(iv) The CITU fights against the repressive policy of the Government towards the democratic and trade union movement; it fights against its economic policy of safeguarding the interests of capitalists and landlords and piling burdens of the common man and the working class through increasing taxation and inflation.

It fights for replacing the present bourgeois- landlord regime by a democratic regime. It finally adheres to the position that no social transformation can be brought about without class-struggle and shall constantly repel attacks to take the working class along the path of class-collaboration.


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