Trade Unions in India
The growth of Trade Unions in India has been eventful. The whole period upto 1920 to 1947 saw the trade union movement and its leadership flourishing in traditional industries – coal, jute, cotton, postal services etc.
The Industrial Disputes Act of 1947 – maintains the basic structure of the earlier colonial Trade Disputes Act of 1929. It emphasises on government intervention in ensuring the Industrial harmony. But, post independence – the unions had to reforge their priorities, till then focused on the discriminatory and exploitative practices of alien employers on a native workforce. The new emphasis was on responsible unionism and voluntary retraints.
Characteristics of Indian Trade Union
- Small coverage compared to the workforce size. The unions are confined only to the organised and the large unorganised sector is not unionised. The union density is really low in the organised sector as well.
- Many private sector employees prevent the while collar employees and manager from making a union.
- India one finds mostly industry level unions – textiles, jute, tea, coal etc. Plant unions are a relatively new and less common phenomenon
- Due to multiplicity and politicalisation of unions, there is a prevalent trend of inter and intra union rivalry, that is mostly to the advantage of managers. Example – a section of AITUC leadership broke off and formed another union
- Average size of the unions is decreasing and the trend of fragmentation has accelerated this process
- Unlike the countries like USA, Indian Unions are mostly trade based and not craft based
- Most of the leaders of the Indian Unions are not from the industry and are middle class intellectuals with clear cut political orientation
- Due to the illiteracy in the union members, the backing of an MP or MLA gives them the strength to stand against the Management and even make them take notice of the unions demands
- Indian Unions are mostly free from the complications of caste and community. Barring a few cases in Bihar, wherein the Bhumihars and Rajputs are vying with each other in the Labour Movement
List of Central Trade Union Organisations in India
- All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) – It is the oldest trade union of India and is associated with the Communist Party of India. Its current National President is Ramendra Kumar. Lala Lajpat Rai was one of the founding leaders. The close affiliates are – Auto Rickshaw Drivers of Andhra Pradesh, Mica Mine workers, Vishakha Steel Workers
- Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh – This is the largest with respect to the number of members that is over 10 million. It is the labour wing of RSS and is not affiliated to any inter trade union
- Centre for Indian Trade Union – This Union is related to the Communist Party of India Marxist. It has an unchallengeable presence in the state of Tripupra
- Hind Mazdoor Kisan Panchayat
- Hind Mazdoor Sabha
- India National Trade Union Congress – This is the trade wing of the Indian National Congress. This Union is not very confrontational and is well known to work with the Management
- All India Federation of Trade Unions – This is the trade wing of Communist Party of India Marxist – Leninist. It has declined post the breakdown of Janshakti
List of Historical Labour Acts
- Trade Unions Act, 1926 – This act pertains to all of India except for Jammu and Kashmir. All the laws regarding the registration and protection of trade unions fall under this act.
- Industrial Employment Act, 1946 (Standing Orders) -This act pertains to the service conditions and rules for the various employees of the Government, Banks, LIC etc. It also covers the rules for the conduct of workmen employed in Industrial Establishments. It is important to note that workmen do not include employees in managerial and administrative capacity. This act does not cover the rules for Army, Navy or Air Force and the prisoners.
- Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 – This acts includes the whole of India and deals with the settlement of Industrial disputes by negotiation in the organised sector. Firms with more than 300 employees, need government permission before laying off their employees. This act also includes the provisions for compensation to workmen on the account of layoffs or retrenchment.
- Factories Act, 1948 – This acts includes the whole of India including Jammu and Kashmir. It pertains to the health, safety, welfare, working hours and annual leaves with wages at a factory. It has special provisions for women and young persons working at a factory.
- Employees Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 – This is one of main platforms for savings for the people working in the government or private sector in India. It is a mandatory, tax qualified and retiral benefits plan that has equal contribution at a specified rate by the employer and the employee – payable in lump sum at the time of retirement.