Industrial Relations Management
TRADE UNION LEGISLATION
Trade union and their activities were not considered lawful in the beginning anywhere in the world. This was so in India also. Until 1926, there was no law in India for registration and protection of trade unions. In 1920, when a suit was filed against the officials of the Madras Textile Labour Union by Binny & Co., the high court of Madras, following the common law in England, granted an injunctions restraining the union officials from influencing the workmen to break their contracts with employers by striking. Obviously the leaders of the trade union found themselves liable to prosecution and imprisonment even for bonafide trade union activities. It was then they felt that some legislative protection of trade union was necessary. Mr. N.M. JOSHI, then General Secretary of All India Trade Union Congress, successfully moved a resolution in the central legislative assembly seeking introduction of some law by the govt. for protection of trade unions. The employers were so much opposed to any such legislative measures being adopted that the passing in 1926.But this act was enforced only from 1st June, 1927.
Object of the Act
The object of passing the Act was to make necessary provisions in regard to the registration of Trade Unions and to define the law relating to registered Trade Unions. The Royal Commission on Labour in India observed that the object is to give trade unions the necessary protection from civil suits and criminal laws relating to conspiracy in order to enable them to carry on their legitimate activities. The Act extends to the whole of India including the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It came into force on the first day of June, 1927.
Trade dispute is the recent unsolved problem between employer and employees or between employer and another employer or between employee and employee while the dispute is concerned with employment or non-employment or the working condition at the work place of a person.
Trade dispute means any dispute between workmen and employers or between workmen and workmen, or between employers and employers. However, it should be connected with employment or non-employment, or the conditions of labour, of any person. ‘Workman’ means all persons employed in trade or industry, whether or not in the employment of the employer with whom the trade dispute arises.
Trade Union Trade Union means any combination, whether temporary or permanent, formed primarily for the purpose of regulating the relations between workmen and employers or between workmen and workmen, or between employers and employers, or for imposing restrictive conditions on the conduct of any trade or business. It includes federation of two or more trade unions.
Trade Union Section 2(h) of the Trade Unions Act, 1926 has defined a trade union as “Any combination, whether temporary or permanent, formed primarily for the purpose of regulating the relations between workmen and employers, or between workmen and workmen, or between employers and employers, or for imposing restrictive conditions on the conduct of any trade or business, and includes any federation of two or more trade unions.” Then this definition talks about three relationships. They are relationship between the: Workmen and workmen Work men and employers, Employers and employers.
According to Flippo “A labour union or trade union is an organization of workers formed to promote, protect, and improve, through collective action, the social, economic, and political, interests of its members.”
According to Dale Yoder “A trade union is a continuous association of workers which is formed with purpose of protecting the interests of workers.
Trade union should send an application for registration to the Registrar and shall be accompanied by the following:
- Name and addresses of members making the application.
- The name of the Trade Union and address of its head office
- The titles, names, ages, addresses and office bearers of the Trade Union
- General statement of the assets and liabilities of the Trade Union, if the union is in existence for over one year.
The Trade Union can be registered only under the Trade Unions Act, 1926 and
the registration of the Trade Unions under any other Act such as the following shall be void:
- The Societies Registration Act, 1860
- The Cooperative Societies Act, 1912
- The Companies Act, 1956
The registration of Trade Union is not legally necessary but it brings certain
advantages which are:
- It becomes a corporate body by name
- It can enter into a contract
- It attains a legal entity
- It can sue and be sued in its registered name
The registrar can cancel or withdraw the registration and can exercise power on Trade Unions for the following issues where:
- Certificate of registration has been obtained by ffraud or mistake
- Trade Union has ceased to exist
- Trade Union has violated any provision of this Act
- The primary objects of the Union are no longer statutory objects
The Trade Union can request the registrar to cancel their registration after the
approval of the general meeting of Trade Unions or majority of members of Trade Union.
The Registrar must give at least two months notice in writing giving the grounds on which he proposes to cancel the certificate of registration. egistration confers on the Trade Unions certain rights and privileges which are as follows:
REGISTRATION OF TRADE UNIONS
- Body corporate
- Separate fund to political purposes
- Immunity from criminal conspiracy
- Immunity from civil suit
- Enforceability of agreements
- Right to amalgamate
- Right to inspect books of Trade Union
Appointment of Registrars (Section 3)
As regards registration of a trade union, the Act empowers the appropriate Government to appoint a person to be the Registrar of Trade Union for each state. The appropriate Government may appoint as many additional and deputy registrar’s trade unions as it think fit. They shall work under the superintendence and direction of the Registrar. The appropriate Government shall specify and define the local limits within which any additional and Deputy Registrar shall exercise and discharge his powers and functions.
Mode of Registration
Application for registration: Ant 7 or more members of a trade union may, by subscribing their name to the rules of the trade union and by otherwise completing with the provision of the Act with respect to registration, apply for its Registration.
[The principal section re-numbered as sub-section (1) and sub-section (2) inserted by Act 48 of 1960] Where an application has been made under sub-section (1) of the registration of a Trade Union, such application shall not be deemed to have become invalid merely by reason of the fact that, at any time after the date of the application, but before the registration of the Trade Union some of the applications, but not exceeding half of the total number of the persons who made the application, have ceased to be members of the Trade Union or have notice in writing to the Registrar dissociating themselves from the application.
Application for Registration (Section 5)
- Even application for registration of a Trade Union shall be made to the Registrar, and shall be accompanied by a copy of the rules of the Trade Union and a statement of the following particulars, namely:-(a) The names, occupations and addresses of the members making the application;(b) The name of the Trade Union and the address of its head office, and(c) The title, names, ages, addresses and occupations of the [Subs. by Trade Unions(Amendment) Act No.33 of 1954] of the Trade Union.
- Where a Trade Union has been in existence for more than one year before the making of an application for its registration, there shall be delivered to the Registrar, together with the application, a general statement of the assets and liabilities of the Trade Union prepared in such form and containing such particulars as may be prescribed.
Rules of Trade Union To provide the following (Section 6)
A Trade Union shall not be entitled to registration under this Act, unless the executive thereof is constituted in accordance with the provisions of this Act, and the rules thereof provided for following matters, namely:-
- The name of the Trade Union;
- The whole of the object for which the Trade Union has been established;
- The whole of the purposes for which the general funds of the Trade Union shall be applicable, all of which purposes shall be purpose, to which such funds are lawfully applicable under this Act;
- The maintenance of a list of the members of the Trade Union and adequate facilities for the inspection thereof by the [Subs. by Trade Unions (Amendment) Act No.33 of 1954] and members of the Trade Union;
- The admission of ordinary members who shall be persons actually engaged or employed in an industry with which the Trade Union is connected, and also the admission of the number of honorary or temporary members as [Subs. by Trade Unions (Amendment) Act No.33 of 1954]required under Section 22 to form the executive of the Trade Union;
The payment of a subscription by members of the Trade Union which shall be not less than twenty five naye paisa per month per member;
- The conditions under which any member shall be entitled to any benefit assured by the rules and under which any fine or forfeiture may be imposed on members;
- The manner in which the member shall be amended, varied or rescinded;
- The manner in which the members of the executive and the other [Subs. by Trade Unions(Amendment) Act No.33 of 1954] of the Trade Union shall be appointed and removed;
- The safe custody of the funds of the Trade Union, and annual audit,in such manner as maybe prescribed, of the account books by [Subs. by Trade Unions (Amendment) Act No.33 of 1954] and members of the Trade Union; and
- The manner in which the Trade Union may be dissolved
Registration (Section 7)
The Registrar will register the Trade Union, if he is satisfied that the trade union has complied with all the requirements of this Act in regard to registration. The Registrar shall register; the Trade Union by making necessary entries in the register, to be maintained in such form as may be prescribed. The particulars relating to the Trade Union contained in the statement accompanying the application for registration shall be entered in the register. Where the Registrar takes no action on an application for more than three months, writ under Article 226 can be issued commanding the Registrar to deal with the application.
Certificate of Registration (Section 9)
The Registrar, on registering a Trade Union, shall issue a certificate of registration which shall be conclusive evidence that the Trade Union has been duly registered under the Act. It is obligatory on the part of the Registrar to register a Trade Union provided the provisions of the Act are complied with. He is not entitled to question whether the Union is lawful or unlawful.
Advantages of Registration
Benefits are available to those who are members of a Trade Union.
These benefits include:
- Bargaining Power
Trade Union members have the skills and experience of the whole Trade Union behind them. This can be essential when management and workers are negotiating wage rises, overtime, or trying to protect jobs.
- Workers Rights
Workers have the right not to be discriminated against for any reason at all. Common types of discrimination include age, gender, sexuality, religion, colour, race, and politics.
The TGWU campaigns range from national campaigns that affect all workers in every sector in every industry, such as pensions, or the minimum wage, to campaigns that may only affect a comparatively much smaller number of workers, such as a factory closure, or a call centre mobbing its operations abroad.
- Other Benefits
In addition Trade Union members have other useful benefits such as legal representation such as in tribunals or other disciplinary hearings. Trade Unions are also involved in policy research for Government, and other countries.
Cancellation of Registration (Section 10)
A certificate of registration of a Trade Union may be withdrawn o cancelled by the Registrar
- On the application of the Trade Union to be verified in such manner as may be prescribed.
- If the Registrar is satisfied that the certificate has been obtained by fraud or mistake, or that the Trade Union has ceased to exist or has willfully and after notice from the Registrar contravened any provision of this Act or allowed any rule to continue in force which is inconsistent with any such provision, or has rescinded any rule providing for any matter, provision for which is required by Section 6: Provided that not less than two months previous notice in writing specifying the ground on which it is proposed to withdraw or cancel the certificate shall be given by the Registrar to the Trade Union before the certificate is withdrawn or cancelled otherwise than on the application of the Trade Union.
- Section 10 provides that register may direct for withdrawal or cancellation of registration in the following cases Trade union has ceased to exist Trade union has on its own applied for its withdrawal or cancellation Allowed any rule to continue against the provision of this act
Appeal (Section 11)
Section 11 of the Act gives a limited right of appeal from the decisions of the Registrar. Any person who is aggrieved by the refusal of the Registrar to register a Trade Union or the withdrawal or cancellation of certificate of registration is given the right of appeal. The appeal must be within 60 days of the date of which Registrar passed the order against which appeal is made.
Trade Union can be restrained by injection from applying its funds for an unauthorized object or for an unlawful purpose, because such expenditure shall be ultra virus the Act. Thus it would be illegal it devote Union funds in support of any illegal strike or lockout.
Rights and Privileges
Registration confers on the Trade Union certain rights and privileges. Similarly some rights are granted to the member of a registered Trade Union both collectively and individually. These are as under:
Body Corporate (Section 13)
Trade Union is a body corporate – Registered Trade Union shall be a body corporate by the name under which it is registered. It will have perpetual succession and a common seal.It can acquire both movable and immovable property in its own name and contract in its own name.
Fund for political purposes - Trade Union can constitute separate fund for political purposes.
Executive Committee and Office Bearers of Union – The management of trade union will be conducted by ‘executive’. It is a body by whatever name called. Thus, controlling body of Trade Union may be called as ‘Executive Body’ or ‘Governing Body’ or ‘Managing Committee’or any such name. The members of the executive body are termed as ‘Officer Bearers’. At least 50% of office bearers of registered trade union shall be persons actually engaged or employed in an industry wit which the trade union is connected.
Annual Returns – Every registered trade union will prepare a general statement of assets and liabilities of trade Union as on 31st December. The statement will be sent to Registrar along with information about change of office bearers during the year.
Immunity from provision of criminal conspiracy in trade disputes – Office bearer of a trade union shall not be liable to punishment u/s 120B(2) of Indian Penal Code in respect of agreement made between members for purpose of object of trade union, unless the agreement is agreement to commit an offence. Thus, office bearer of trade union cannot be prosecuted for criminal conspiracy in respect of agreement relating to object of trade union.
Immunity from civil suit – A civil suit or other legal proceeding is not maintainable against any registered trade union or office bearer in furtherance of trade union activity on the ground that
Penalties and Procedure
- such act induces some person to break a contract of employmentor
- It is in interference with the trade, business or employment of some other person
Unionization in the Indian Context
- Failure to submit returns.
Failure to submit returns.-
- If default is made on the part of any registered Trade Union in giving any notice or sending any statement or other document as required by or under any provision of this Act,every 1*[office- bearer] or other person bound by the rules of the Trade Union to give or send the same, or,if there is no such 1*[office-bearer] or person every member of the executive of the Trade Union, shall be punishable, with fine which may extend to five rupees and, in the case of a continuing default, with an additional fine which may extend to five rupees for each week after the first during which the default continues: Provided that the aggregate fine shall not exceed fifty rupees.
- Any person who willfully makes, or causes to be made, any false entry in, or any omission from, the general statement required by section 28,or in or from any copy of rules or of alterations of rules sent to the Registrar under that section,shall be punishable with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees.
- Supplying false information regarding Trade Unions.
Supplying false information regarding Trade Unions.- Any 15 person who, with intent to deceive, gives to any member of a registered Trade Union or to any& person intending or applying to become a member of such Trade Union any document purporting to be a copy of the rules of the Trade Union or of any alterations to the same which he knows, or has reason to believe, is not a correct copy of such rules& or alterations as are for the time being in force, or any person who, with the like intent, gives a copy of any rules of an unregistered Trade Union to any person on the pretence that such rules are the rules of a registered Trade Union, shall be punishable with fine which may extend to two hundred rupees.
- Cognizance of offences.
Cognizance of offences-
- No Court inferior to that of a Presidency Magistrate or a Magistrate of the first class shall try any offence under this Act.
- No Court shall take cognizance of any offence under this Act, unless complaint thereof has been made by, or with the previous sanction of, the Registrar or, in the case of an offence under section 32, by the person to whom the copy was given, within six months of the date on which the offence is alleged to have been committed.
Trade union law and political parties and their strategy are relevant for the process of unionization in the Indian context. The Trade Union Act 1926 states, “Any seven or more members of a trade union may be subscribing their names to the rules of the trade union and by otherwise complying with the provisions of this act with respect to registration, apply for registration of the trade union
under this act.This has resulted in a large number of registered and unregistered trade unions. Another factor is that the major political parties have a federation at the apex or national level to which unions at the plant and state level are affiliated. The organization pattern of a trade union federation is usually three-tired. Units exist at the plant or shop, state and the national level.
National Level Federation
Historically, four major federations have been in existence and have established a national network of federal unions. They are:
- The All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC)
- India National Trade Union Congress (INTUC)
- United Trade Union Congress(UTUC)
- Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS)
Of the four, the penultimate one, UTUC, has to a certain extent merged with the Center of Indian Trade Union (CITU)
Other than the above,
- National Labour Organisation (NLO)
- Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) and
- Hind Mazdoor Panchayat (HMP)
are a few having stronger regional affiliations than a national coverage.
INDUSTRY LEVEL UNIONS
Textile Labour Association
Ahmadabad is an example of the industry level union. TLA has diversified into an unorganized sector. However, its strength and major contribution has been in the textile industry.
Local Level Unions
Many Indian Unions are not affiliated to an industry level federation and in many cases may not have any affiliation to the national federation. They are thus independent local unions centered on a particular plant or a multi plant organization. Irrespective of occupational groups all are admitted to this union. The numbers may vary among the small, medium and large ones. In specific situations, the assistance or guidance of the larger federations or other large unions in related industries are sought.
RECOGNITION OF A UNION
A recognized trade union represents workers in negotiations with their employer. These negotiations will usually centre on workers’terms and conditions.
When an employer recognizes a trade union, it will be for bargaining on behalf of a particular group of workers. This group is often called a‘bargaining unit’.
An independent trade union recognized by an employer has certain legal rights. These include the rights for its:
- officials to be given time off work by the employer to carry out their trade union duties
- members to be given time off work to take part in trade union activities
- officials to be given information by the employer that they can use in collective bargaining with the employer
- learning representatives to be given time off for their duties in relation to the learning and training of employees and to have training to carry out those duties
An independent trade union recognized by an employer also has the right to be consulted by the employer about certain issues. These include:
- health and safety matters
- when the employer is thinking about making a group of workers that includes trade union members redundant
- when the transfer of the employer’s business is being considered
A trade union can become recognized by making a voluntary agreement or following a statutory procedure involving the Central Arbitration Committee(CAC).
If your employer does not recognize a trade union in your workplace, then a trade union can become recognized by making a voluntary agreement with your employer. This is the way most recognition arrangements in the UK are established.
If your employer will not make a voluntary agreement with a trade union, then the trade union can follow a statutory procedure for recognition. The statutory procedure applies to employers that have 21 or more workers.
Rights and Responsibilities of Registered Unions
The existence of a strong and recognized trade union is a pre-requisite to industrial peace. Decisions taken through the process of collective bargaining and negotiations between employer and unions are more influential. Trade unions play an important role and are helpful in effective communication between the workers and the management. They provide the advice and support to ensure that the differences of opinion do not turn into major conflicts. The central function of a trade union is to represent people at work. But they also have a wider role in protecting their interests. They also play an important educational role,organizing courses for their members on a wide range of matters. Seeking a healthy and safe working environment is also prominent feature of union activity.
Trade unions help in accelerated pace of economic development in many ways as follows:
- By helping in the recruitment and selection of workers.
- By inculcating discipline among the workforce
- By enabling settlement of industrial disputes in a rational manner
- By helping social adjustments. Workers have to adjust themselves to the new working conditions, the new rules and policies. Workers coming from different backgrounds may become disorganized, unsatisfied and frustrated.Unions help them in such adjustment.
Trade unions are a part of society and as such, have to take into consideration the national integration as well. Some important social responsibilities of trade unions include:
- promoting and maintaining national integration by reducing the number of industrial disputes
- incorporating a sense of corporate social responsibility in workers
- Achieving industrial peace.