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Human Resources Management - Trade Union

Origin, Functions, Objectives and Principles of Trade Union

   Posted On :  14.06.2018 12:30 am

Trade unions are the creation of industrialization and modern industrial conditions.


1. Trade unions are the creation of industrialization and modern industrial conditions.

2. Industrial revolution destroyed the earlier way of life and left the individual worker, who was protected by the customary values, to drift by himself in the anonymity of the town, and gathered these workers together around the employer.

3. The employer paid as little as possible to the workers; the workers as individuals could not protest against it and therefore those (workers) similarly situated, economically and socially and closely associated with the work of the same employer developed mutual understanding and a common solution of their problems of living and this crystallized them into a self-conscious group what we may call as Trade union.

4. Trade union got originated out of the necessity of workers to protect and defend themselves from encroachment, injustice and wrong imposed upon them by the employer or the management of the concern.

5. The aspects of the process of industrialization those necessitated the origin of the trade union are:

a) Separation between the ownership of capital and labour, both of which are essential for producing goods and rendering services to the consumers.

b) Since, individually the workers did not have any other source of the livelihood except that of service under the owners of capital, there was no match between the two as regards economic resources or bargaining power or skill. It was the owner of capital who dictated terms and conditions of employment. This again infused a spirit of union among the workers.
c) The state or law remained silent because in its eyes workers and employers were equal. This further increased the exploitation of workers by the owners of capital.
d) Though an individual worker was dispensable to an employer, yet he could not afford to dispense with the services of a group of workers. The day it was realized by the workforce, they united and got their reasonable rights from the owners of capital.


Functions of trade unions are:

1. The provision of friendly services such as a place for leisure pursuits, information about jobs existing in other factories, games and outings, etc.

2. The provision of social services such as insurance against old age, unemployment, strike, pay, payment for hospital fee, legal services, etc.

3. Wage bargaining i.e. collective wage bargaining with the employers.

4. Safeguarding the job of the workers.

5. Political activities, i.e. the political pressure for reform, e.g. trade union legislation works to protect the union and the workers from such industrial abuses as delay in payment of wages, excessive hours of work, poor working conditions, etc.

6. To develop cooperation with employers.

7. To arouse public opinion in favour of labour.

8. To secure some shares in profit and in the control of the enterprise.


Objectives of trade unions are:

1. To take labour out of the competitive process; because if a number of workers freely compete for a job, the employer will definitely offer them less wages.

2. To negotiate at all levels with employers over wages and conditions of work.

3. To protect the workers in their inalienable right to higher and better life.

4. To make workers to take part in union activities and to obey union rules and decisions.

5. To protect and promote the interests of the workers.

6. To provide legal assistance to workers (i.e. union members) in connection with work affairs.

7. To improve economic status of the workers.

8. To protect the jobs of the workers against lay off, retrenchment, etc.

9. To ensure that workers get as per rule, the pension, provident fund, compensation for injuries, etc.

10. To ensure for the workers, better health, safety and welfare standards.

11. To have a voice or participation in the factory management.

12. To ensure that workers get respect and human treatment from the foremen, managers, etc.

13. To improve their political status.

14. To offer educational services to the workers.


Trade unions function on the basis of three cardinal principles. If any one of them is threatened or is in jeopardy, they would fight back.

These principles are:

1. Unity is strength

This fact has been very effectively brought out by Longfellow in the song of Hiawatha:

“ All your strength is in your union, 
All your danger is in your discord; 
Therefore, be at peace henceforward, 
And, as brothers, live together.”
2. Equal pay for equal work or for the same job.

This principle is based on one of the nine principles included in the ILO’s charter of the freedom of labour, which says:

“Men and women should receive equal remuneration for work of equal value”

3. Security of service

Security of service, which enjoins upon trade unions that they ensure social and economic security for their members.
Tags : Human Resources Management - Trade Union
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