Trade Unions are organization of Workers as well as of Employers formed in order to protect and promote the interest and works for the rights of their members. The Trade Unions Act was passed in the year 1926 and gave legal status to the Registered Trade Unions in the country. The present review presents information in respect of Workers and Employers Unions, of Registered Trade Unions submitting returns by their sex-wise membership. Besides, it also presents data of income and expenditure of Workers Unions, Employers Unions and Federation of Trade Unions.
Trade Unions have made advancement due to rapid individual and industrial development. The workers came together to maintain and improve their bargaining power on wages and working conditions. Madras Labour was the first ever organized Trade Union in India and was formed in the year 1918.
From the beginning itself, Trade Unions were not confined to workers alone.The total no. of registered Trade Union was 16154 in the year 2012 with the average membership for workers union as 1919 members. Out of total of 16154 registered unions as many as 16098 unions i.e. 99.7 per cent belong to Workers and remaining 56 (0.3 per cent) unions were Employers. Karnataka has the largest number of registered Trade Unions that is 3726. Out of the 16098 Workers Unions, 94.3 per cent were State Unions and remaining 5.7 per cent were Central Unions.
Forming and registering Trade Union
Any 7 or more members of a trade union by subscribing their names to the rules of the trade union and otherwise complying with provisions of this Act with respect to registration may apply for registration of trade union under the Trade Union Act to the Registrar of Trade Unions. The Registrar issues a Certificate of Registration in a prescribed form which acts as evidence that trade union has been duly registered under the Act.
Any person equals or above age of 15 years may become the member of a registered trade union and subject to the rules of the trade union may enjoy all the rights of a member and execute all instruments and give all acquaintances necessary to be executed or given under the rules. But he cannot be an office bearer of the trade union until, he attains the age of 18 years.
Only the persons involved and engaged in trade or business which includes an industry can form a trade union or become members of the trade union. As such persons employed in Raj Bhawan for domestic and other duties cannot form a trade union. And in the same way, the government servants engaged in the task of sovereign and legal functions are not entitled to the registration of a trade union.
Provisions and Limitations under the Trade Union Act
• Defines the rights and liabilities of registered trade unions. It indicates the objects on which general funds may be spent.
• Provides for constitution of a separate fund for political purposes.
• Trade unions are given immunity from civil suits in certain cases
• Members of trade unions can inspect the books of trade unions
• Trade unions can be amalgamated, provided votes of at least one half of the members of each or every such trade union entitled to vote is recorded.
Under the Trade Unions Act, 1926, the registration of a trade union is not mandatory. However, it is observed that response rate of States submitting returns to Labour Bureau is very poor. During 2011 only 27% of the registered trade unions from 10 States/Union Territories and during 2012 only 29.6 % of the registered trade unions from 15 States/Union Territories have submitted returns in the prescribed preformed to the concerned authorities. The data, therefore, are not strictly comparable with those of the earlier years.