TRADE UNION MOVEMENT IN INDIA -
September 13th, 2010
The trade union movement emerged in India, basically as a reaction to the state interventionist or state pluralism model.
The economic reforms’ package (emphasis on privatization, liberalization and austerity measures) introduced in India in mid-1991 can be viewed as providing some kind of conducive environment for the trade unions in the public sector to engage in greater industrial disputes but what is being observed is that there is increasing dissension or fragmentation within the trade union movement itself. There has also been a decline in trade union activity over the years.
Global economic trends have put tremendous pressure on the working class. Global institutions governed by Capital, like WB-IMF-WTO, are putting tremendous pressure on Nation sates to rationalize labour laws and undermine trade union rights.
This emerging global economic environment is very conducive to the growth of Multi National Companies. It is fast turning National economies into a production chain with progressive low wages. In the process, the MNC's regain their dictatorship over global commodities, for consumption in developed economics.
Companies are increasingly adopting methods to lower wages and social security costs by adopting measures like privatisation, closures, lay-off, retrenchment, Voluntary Retirement Scheme and sub-contracting.
They have adopted labour intensifying incentive schemes, performance linked wage systems and compulsory overtime. In all these management strategies the key element is the flexibility in labour relationship.
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, forming a cartel of labor.
The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labor 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. The agreements negotiated by the union leaders are binding on the rank and file members and the employer and in some cases on other non-member workers.
These organizations may comprise individual workers, professionals, past workers, or the unemployed. The most common, but by no means only, purpose of these organizations is "maintaining or improving the conditions of their employment"
Over the last three hundred years, many trade unions have developed into a number of forms, influenced by differing political and economic regimes.
The traces of trade unions' existence could be traced from the eighteenth century; the rapid expansion of industrial society was to draw women, children, rural workers, and immigrants to the work force in larger numbers and in new roles. This pool of unskilled and semi-skilled labor spontaneously organized in fits and starts throughout its beginnings, and would later be an important arena for the development of trade unions.
Origins and early history
Trade unions have sometimes been seen as successors to the guilds of medieval Europe, though the relationship between the two is disputed. Medieval guilds existed to protect and enhance their members' livelihoods through controlling the instructional capital of artisanship and the progression of members from apprentice to craftsman, journeyman, and eventually to master and grandmaster of their craft.
A labor union might include workers from only one trade or craft, or might combine several or all the workers in one company or industry. Since the publication of the History of Trade Unionism (1894) by Sidney and Beatrice Webb, the predominant historical view is that a trade union "is a continuous association of wage earners for the purpose of maintaining or improving the conditions of their employment."
A modern definition by the Australian Bureau of Statistics states that a trade union is "an organization consisting predominantly of employees, the principal activities of which include the negotiation of rates of pay and conditions of employment for its members."
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