Functions of a trade union - Industrial Relations Management

Functions of trade Union in Industrial Relations

Functions of Trade Unions in the India

Trade unions perform a number of functions in order to achieve the objectives. These functions can be broadly classified into three categories.

  1. Militant functions
  2. Fraternal functions

Militant Functions

One set of activities performed by trade unions leads to the betterment of position of members in relation to their employment.

The aim of such activities is to ensure adequate wages secure better conditions of work and employment get better treatment from employers, etc. When the unions fail to accomplish these aims by the method of collective bargaining and negotiations, they adopt an approach and put up a fight with the management in the form of go-slow tactics, strike, boycott, gherao, etc. Hence, these functions of the trade unions are known as militant or fighting functions. Thus, the militant functions of trade unions can be summed up as:

  • achieve higher wages and better working conditions
  • To raise the status of workers as a part of industry
  • To protect labors against victimization and injustice

Fraternal Functions

Another set of activities performed by trade unions aims at rendering help to its members in times of need, and improving their efficiency. Trade unions try to foster a spirit of cooperation and promote friendly industrial relations and diffuse education and culture among their members. They take up welfare measures for improving the morale of workers and generate self confidence among them. They also arrange for legal assistance to its members, if necessary. Besides, these, they undertake many welfare measures for their members, e.g., school for the education of children, library, reading-rooms, in-door and out-door games, and other recreational facilities. Some trade unions even undertake publication of some magazine or journal. These activities, which may be called fraternal functions, depend on the availability of funds, which the unions raise by subscription from members and donations from outsiders, and also on their competent and enlightened leadership. Thus, the fraternal functions of trade unions can be summed up as:

  • To take up welfare measures for improving the morale of workers.
  • To generate self confidence among workers.
  • To encourage sincerity and discipline among workers.
  • To provide opportunities for promotion and growth.

To protect women workers against discrimination

Functions of Trade Unions in the USSR

An act regulating the organizational structure of Soviet trade unions, the competence of trade union bodies, and the rights and duties of trade union members. The current regulations were approved by the Thirteenth Congress of Trade Unions on Nov. 1, 1963; amendments were dded at the Fourteenth (1968), Fifteenth (1972), and Sixteenth (1977) Congresses of Trade Unions of the USSR.

The basic tasks of trade unions, as indicated in the Regulations, include a responsibility to protect the legal interests of workers and all toilers and to improve living and working conditions. Trade unions must also keep close watch to ensure that labor legislation and the rules and norms of labor protection and industrial safety are observed.

The regulations state that membership in a trade union shall be open to anyone working in a production association (combine), at a scientific industrial association, at an enterprise, on a kolkhoz, or in an institution or organization, as well as to any student in a higher educational institution, specialized secondary educational institution, or vocational-technical school. The regulations provide for the right of a trade union member to vote, to be elected to any trade union organization and to comment freely at meetings on all questions of trade union work. The regulations obligate trade union members to work honestly and conscientiously and to observe strictly state and labor discipline.

The regulations assert that the trade unions of the USSR shall enjoy the right of legislative initiative through their all-Union and republic bodies and that the trade unions shall be structured on the basis of democratic centralism and organized according to industry. The regulations define the structure and functions of trade union bodies. The basic unit of the trade union is the primary trade union organization, which unites union members working in a particular organization or studying in a particular educational institution providing that there are no fewer than five trade union members. The highest decision-making body of the primary organization is the general meeting of the members of the trade union.

In order to conduct the current business of a primary trade union organization with more than 15 members, a local factory committee is elected; those primary organizations with fewer than 15 members elect a trade union organizer and deputy trade union organizer for a term of one year. The highest trade union body in the USSR is the Congress of Trade Unions of the USSR, which convenes every five years; in the intervals between sessions, the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions is the highest body.

The primary trade union organizations of a branch of the economy within a republic, krai, oblast, raion, or city are directly guided by the corresponding republic, krai, oblast, raion, or city committee of the branch trade union. The highest bodies of branch trade unions are the unions’ congresses and the central committees elected by the congresses. Inter union bodies—republic, krai, or oblast trade union councils—are created to guide the work of local trade union bodies.

Functions of Trade Unions in the Republic of China
The major social functions of the Chinese trade unions are as follows:

  1. To protect the legitimate interests and democratic rights of the workers and staff members
  2. to mobilize and organize the workers and staff members to take part in the construction and reform and accomplish the tasks in the economic and social development
  3. to represent and organize the workers and staff members to take part in the administration of the State and social affairs and to participate in the democratic management of enterprises
  4. to educate the workers and staff members to constantly improve their ideological and moral qualities and raise their scientific and cultural levels.

The basic duty of the Chinese trade unions is to protect the legitimate rights and Interests of the workers and staff members. In the course of developing the socialist market economy, the Chinese trade unions, in accordance with the regulations of the State’s Labour law and other relevant laws, actively safeguard workers’ political rights, their right to work and their material and cultural interests; participate in coordinating labor relations and regulating social contradictions and make efforts to promote the economic development and a long-term social stability of the country.

Functions of Trade Unions in the USA

The British TUC Report Post-War Reconstruction distinguished three mainsets of objectives namely:

  1. Maintaining and improving wages, hours and conditions of work, and also what wages can buy; and increasing the size of the real national income and the share of it which should accrue to the working people.
  2. Providing and improving opportunities for the advancement of the workers to obtain “full employment” is an aim which trade unions have always pursued:
  3. Extending the influence of the working class over the policy and purposes of industry and arranging for their participation in management

Flandes and Cleggre have laid down the main objective of a trade union as under:

  1. Defining or improving the wages and conditions of work;
  2. Raising the status of the worker as a citizen of industry and of society; and
  3. Extending the area of social control of the nation’s economic life and participating in that control;

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