The role of Trade Union in India

role of trade union

The origin of Trade Unions can be traced back to the era of Industrialisation. Due to the myriad of Business organizations coupled with the heavy involvement of women and children in the workforce in large numbers, there arose a need for protecting the interest of this large community.

Today, workers have become an integral part of society and play a pivotal role in the success of business organizations leading to more money supply and eventually adding to economic growth. Hence, there arises a need to protect the interest of these workers for both the Employers and well as the Employees themselves. Moreover,  Employees have now realized the need and importance of partaking in Trade Unions. Brethren and Unity have become the basic principle in protecting oneself against any Exploitation. Therefore, Trade Unions have become vital to ensure cordial relationships between Employees and Employers.

What is a Trade Union?

Simply put, a trade union meaning is an organization of workers that are generally independent of the Employer who acts as an authority to negotiate between the parties for the betterment of both.

In India, The Trade Unions Act 1926 was introduced in the year 1926 with a view to :

  • assuage the tension between the workmen and employers or between workmen and workmen, or between employers and employers.
  • impose restrictive conditions on the conduct of any trade or business.

It is pertinent to note that this Act shall not affect :

  • any agreement between partners as to their own business;
  • any agreement between an employer and those employed by him as to such employment; or
  • any agreement in consideration of the sale of the good-will of a business or of instruction in any profession, trade or handicraft.

    Read Also – NALSA v. Union of India

What are the Objectives of the Trade Union?

The primary objective of the Trade Union is to work towards protecting the interest of the workers and the conditions of their Employment. Let us understand some of the crucial roles of trade unions in India.

Pacifying the disputes which may arise between the Employees and the Employers: Disputes are the natural consequence of pursuance of divergent interests by the employers and the employees. Trade unions of workmen play a vital role in the resolution of industrial disputes and as such is aimed to aid in this regard. The country has witnessed a large number of strikes to ensure the conciliation of such disputes in a timely fashion.

Negotiating with the Employer for devising the best suitable pay and working conditions: Trade Unions play a very important role in resolving conflicts pertaining to pay and working conditions. Union representatives help to alleviate accidents that may be caused due to poor working conditions and ensure safety to its members. They work towards making sure the workers are not underpaid, taking into account the prevailing Inflation and the  Cost of Living Index.

Providing its members with legal guidance and disciplinary assistance: Trade Unions ensure protection, which also, includes Legal protection. They employment Lawyers In order to make sure that the Employers are acting in accordance with the law with respect to Human Resources.

Ensuring the participation of the workers in the affairs and management of the company: As per the recent advancements in management studies, Employees are encouraged to give suggestions/complaints in order to resolve the problems prevailing in the organization. For example, the Kaizen Management theory suggests that if a worker faces an issue, he can devise a team for quick discussion/brainstorming sessions and decides the best suggestion for its resolution. A Trade Union encourages worker’s participation in the affairs or management of the company.

How is a Trade Union registered?

Any group of seven members can apply for the registration under the provisions of the Act. The Application needs to be made to the Registrar of Trade Unions, accompanied by a copy of the rules of the Trade Union and a statement of the following particulars :

  • the names, occupations, and addresses of the members making the application;
  • the name of the Trade Union and the address of its head office; and
  • the titles, names, ages, addresses, and occupations of the office-bearers of the Trade Union.

Trade Union in India

As per the latest data, there are 16,154 trade unions that had a combined membership of 9.18 million. Let us take a quick glance at the top four.

The Indian National Trade Union Congress: It was established on the 3rd of May, the year 1947 and is affiliated with the International Trade Union Confederation.  It was presided by Acharya JB Kripalani in its inaugural year.  Its major objective is to peacefully redress the conflicts of the workers. It aims to foster the growth of human personality. Further,  The INTUC feels that there should be a proper analysis of each issue individually such as contract labor, job guarantee, Social Security, etc. These 3 issues come under one major problem. The GOI declared as the most representative Union of the country in the year 1948. Currently, It is presided over by G Sajeeva Reddy.

The AH India Trade Union Congress (AITUC): It was established in the year 1920 in Bombay by Lala Lajpat Rai, Joseph Batista, N. M Joshi, and Diwan Chaman Lal. The main objective of the Union is to abolish slavery and work towards a society free from exploitation against the workers.

The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS): It was established in the year 1995 by Dattopant Thengadi. It is considered to be the third major Trade Union in the country only after the All India  Trade Union Congres. It has an astonishing figure of membership which stands more than 11 Million as of today. This Trade Union is not affiliated to any International Trade Union and operates Independently.

The Hind Mazdoor Sangh (H.M.S.): It was founded in the year 1948 in West Bengal by socialists, Forward Bloc followers and independent unionists who neither approved INTUC nor AITUC. In 1949 HMS became a founding member of the ICFTU (International Confederation of Free Trade Unions) and now is affiliated with the International Trade Union Confederation. The Idea of HMS  is to keep its members free from political affiliations


It is, therefore, pertinent to note how Trade Unions are of the utmost importance in the midst of the ever-developing Industries and organizations today. They not only ensure safety to the workers but also lead to productivity for the organizations. They work as a liaison between the Employees and the Employers and strive for the betterment of both.


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