Problems with Indian Trade Unions

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Problems of Indian Trade Unions:

Uneven growth:

Industry-wise and Area-wise: Trade unions haven't grown in all types of industries. The only industries that have seen growth of trade unions are in the area of plantations, coal mines, food, textiles, printing press, chemicals, utility services, transport, communications and commerce. Furthermore, trade union activities are limited to large scale industry sector and manual labour, and trade unions are unevenly distributed in different states. Trade unions don't exist for a variety of small-scale businesses.

Small size of unions:

The sizes of trade unions haven't been sufficient enough to have adequate funds and provide legal help to members. The sizes of trade unions in India have been increasing since 1930-31, but the overall membership size has been decreasing recently. Various factors contribute toward the small size of trade unions; the average size of a trade union in India is about 800. Furthermore, the percentage of women members is only 6-8%. This small size of trade unions weakens their collective bargaining power, and makes legal help inaccessible.

Financial Weakness:

Workers don't adequately contribute toward to their trade union membership fees, except when necessary. Many workers feel the services of their trade unions are not worth paying for. The lack of necessary funds prevent trade unions from offering support for welfare activities for labour, support strikes, and hire paid staff. One reason for financial weakness in trade unions is due to the presence of rival trade unions.

Multiplicity of Trade Unions and rivalries:

Multiple trade unions are a necessary evil. Powerful political parties have established their own trade unions with the intention of spreading their political power. This causes an inadequate and unhealthy growth of trade unions. Most trade unions have developed inter-union rivalries and groups that are in constant competition against each other. Members' energy has been wasted on deconstructive activities, and unions have become more political.

Leadership issues:

Some unions are managed by the educated class: doctors, lawyers, politicians, etc., who have no experience or work history with the corresponding union. This type of foreign leadership creates barriers between lower-end workers and upper management, and is disadvantageous to the proper development and management of the union. Leadership of a union must only arise from within the labour class.

Political involvement in unions:

Most unions today are run by rival political parties. These political parties have nothing constructive to offer, instead, use unions to spread their political agenda. Furthermore, decisions related to unions are made by politicians. For example, the Indian National Congress as formed the Swadeshi Movement, the Khilafat Movement, the Civil Disobedience Movement, and the Noncorporation movement.

Problems with recognition of trade unions:

The process that leads to recognition of unions is a lengthy one. In the initial stages, union recognition is very difficult, and even discourage. There is a long list of criteria that a union must meet in order to become certified and recognized by the industry.

Additional Readings:

1. Indian Labor Class
2. Causes of High Labor Turnover in India
3. Principles and Functions of Indian Trade Unions
4. Organizational Structure of Indian Trade Unions and Union Security Covers
5. Indian Trade Union Act of 1926
6. Additions to Trade Union Amendment of 1982
7. Problems with Indian Trade Unions
8. Recommendations of the National Commission of Labor
9. National Central Trade Union Organizations in India
10. Conduction of a Trade Union Meeting
11. Types of Union Meetings
12. Rights of Recognized Trade Unions
13. Participative Movement
14. Functions of Joint Management Councils
15. Cancellation of Indian Trade Union Registration

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