An overview on Trade Union Act,1926
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27-01-2011, 03:52 PM


The object of Trade Unions Act, 1926 is to provide for registration of Trade unions and to define law relating to registered trade unions in certain aspects.

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. [section 2(h)].

Thus, technically, there can be ‘union’ of employers also, though, almost universally, the term ‘trade union’ is associated with union of workmen or employees.

‘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. [section 2(g)].

Any seven or more members of a Trade Union can apply for registration, by subscribing their names to rules of trade Union and complying with provisions of the Act for registration of Trade Union. [section 4(1)]. Right and liabilities of a Registered Trade Union are specified in section 15.

Registration of trade union – Appropriate Government shall appoint a person as Registrar of Trade Unions for each State. [section 3(1)]. Application for registration is required to be made signed by at least 7 members. Application should be accompanied by rules of trade union. and other required details. [section 5]. Rules should contain provisions as prescribed in section 6. Registrar shall register Trade Union and enter particulars in the register maintained by him. [section 8]. Trade Union will have a registered office. [section 12].

Other provisions – Other important provisions are as follows -

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. [section 13].

Fund for political purposes - Trade Union can constitute separate fund for political purposes. [section 16].

Executive Committee and Office Bearers of Union – The management of trade union will be conduced by ‘executive’. It is a body by whatever name called. [section 2(a)]. 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’. [section 2(b)]. 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. [section 22].

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. [section 28(1)].

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. [section 17]. - - 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 (a) such act induces some person to break a contract of employment or (b) It is in interference with the trade, business or employment of some other person. [section 18(1)].

Registration does not mean recognition – Registration and recognition of Union by an employer are independent issues. Registration of Trade Union with Registrar has nothing to do with its recognition in a particular factory/company. Recognition of Trade Union is generally a matter of agreement between employer and trade union. In States like Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, there are specific legal provisions for recognition of a trade union.

The election:
The election is held within 30 to 60 days after the NLRB issues its decision and direction of Election. The election is by secret ballot; the NLRB provides the ballots; voting booth, and ballot box and counts the votes and certifies the results.
The union becomes the employee’s representative if it wins the election, and winning means getting a majority of the votes cast, not a majority of the total workers in the bargaining unit. Also keep in mind that if an employer commits an unfair labor practice the NLRB may reverse a no union election. As representative of their employer, supervisors must therefore be careful not to commit unfair practices. Several things influence whether the union wins the certification election. Unions have a higher probability of success in geographic areas with a higher percentage of union workers, in part because union employees enjoy higher wages and benefits. High unemployment seems to lead to poorer results for the union, perhaps because employees fear that unionization efforts might result in reduced job secriuty. Unions usually carefully pick the size of their bargaining unit (all

Criticism of Trade Unions Lack of education makes the workers narrow-minded, and prevents them from taking long-term views. Thus, anything, which does not result in an immediate reward, becomes unattractive to them. This attitude is responsible for many strikes and lock-outs in industrial concerns. Trade unions may not welcome rationalisation and improved methods of production for the fear that some of the workers will be put out of work. Therefore, they resort to go slow policy that retards industrial progress. When labour unions strike because of illogical grounds, incalculable losses occur to producers, community and the nation. These are harmful to the workers also. They suffer because of the loss of wages. They create artificial scarcity of labour by demanding that only union personnel should be employed. By undue insistence on the payment of standard rates of wages, they have only leveled down the earnings of the efficient workers.
Problems & weaknesses of Trade Unions :
Problems & weaknesses of Trade Unions Uneven Growth. The trade unionism in India is characterised by uneven growth, both industry-wise and area-wise. Trade unions are popular in big industries and the degree of unionisation varies widely from industry to industry. Besides, trade union activities are concentrated in a few states and in bigger industrial centers mainly due to concentration of industries in those places.
Limited Membership. The number of trade unions in India has increased considerably. But this has been followed by the declining membership per union.
Multiplicity of Unions. There exist several trade unions in the same establishment. The multiplicity of unions is the result of outside leadership and labour laws. The law permits and gives sanctity to small unions. Any seven persons can form a union under the Trade Unions Act, 1926. This Act confers rights on such a union. It is allowed under the Act to raise disputes, file suits, go to conciliation and even bargain with employers. Therefore, small sections of workers are encouraged to form separate Unions. There is no restriction on the number of unions to be registered in one establishment.
Outside Leadership. Trade unions in India are led largely by people who themselves are not workers. These outsiders are politicians, intellectuals and professionals having no experience of work in industry. Outsiders continue to dominate the trade unions to advance their personal interests.

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