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Trade Unions

1. According to Yoder, a Trade Union is a continuing long –term formed and maintained for thespecific purpose of advancing and protecting the interest of members in…


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    June 2018
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1. According to Yoder, a Trade Union is a continuing long –term formed and maintained for thespecific purpose of advancing and protecting the interest of members in their workingrelationships.According to Giri, Trade Union is a voluntary organization of workers formed to promote andprotect their interest by collective action.So, Trade Union is a voluntary union of employee which has been formed by employee topromote the welfare of employees at work place. Trade Union in an organization based onmembership of employees in various trades, occupations and professions, whose major focus isthe representation of its members at the workplace and in the wide society. It particularly seeksto advance it’s interest through the process of rule-making and collective bargaining.Trade Unions have typically been placed into four categories as follows;Manual Workers’ Unions nowadays these are principally the large general workers union,although there are still a few craft based and industrial union. They include workers in mining,transport and general industries.White Collar Unions These are mostly general unions for clerical, administrative and technicalworkers, although there are still some specific to certain occupational groups, especially in thepublic sector.Staff Associations These are unions which were originally formed from amongst the employeeof a single employer, usually in the white collar sector. Despite their close association with oneemployer, they are able to demonstrate their independency. These associations are common indeveloped world. Example in Britain they have National wide Group Staff Association, Natweststaff association.Managerial/Professional Unions These tend to recruit from those employed in middlemanagement and professional occupations example In Tanzania we have Chama Cha WalimuTanzania [CWT], in UK they have engineers and managers association [EMA].The Functions and Roles of Trade Unions 1 2. The main objective of a trade union is to promote the interest of its members, due regard beingpaid to the interest of the total labour force and to the greater national interest. To achieve thisaim, trade unions have a duty to maintain the viability of undertaking by ensuring cooperationwith management in measures to promote efficiency and good industrial relations. The Trade Unions should therefore function to: Where appropriate, maintain jointly with management and other trade unions effective arrangements at industry or local level for negotiation, consultation and communication and for setting grievances and disputes. Take all reasonable steps to ensure that their officials and members observe all arrangements. Provide for the training of delegates in the scope of their power and duties and the day to day operation of the unions. Provide adequate educational opportunities for the advancement of their members. Be properly staffed to serve the needs of their members, such means as would best allow them to do so, including the compilation and distribution of information. Encourage members to take part in their activities by adopting such means as would best allow to do so, including the compilation and distribution of information. Make available information pertaining to the rules and policies of union. Provide adequate advisory services for their members in particular assist them to understand the term and conditions of their employment. Identify trends in industrial relations to help their members to anticipate and keep abreast of change. To consult with the employer on matters relating to the maintenance of discipline and the application of code of practice. To discuss with employer at regular intervals at least once every three months, means of promoting efficiency and productivity. To consider and advice the employer on safety and welfare arrangements for persons employed in the organization. To attend all statutory inspections at the workplace by any authority charged by the law with the duty to make inspections and report on work on work conditions. 2 3. To investigate and report to appropriate authorities on any non- compliance with the provisions of applicable statutory with respect to wages and salaries. To consider with the employer any new employer’s rule for the place of work. To consider with the employer concerning any impending redundancies. To assist in the furtherance of good relations between the employer and workers.According to The Employment and Labour Relation Act No. 6 2004 And Labour Institutions ActNo 7 2004 of The United Republic of Tanzania, the Trade Union representatives shall performthe following functions; a) To represent members in grievance and disciplinary hearings; b) To make representations on behalf of members in respect of rules; health and welfare; c) To consult on productivity in the workplace; d) To represent the trade union in enquiries and investigations conducted by inspectors in terms of any labour laws; e) To monitor employer compliance with labour laws; f) To perform trade union functions under the union’s constitution; g) To further good relations; h) To perform any function or role agreed to by the employer.This piece of national legislation provides a relatively restrictive function for trade unions, inkeeping with the purpose of the legislation. Trade unions themselves set out functions withintheir rulebooks. The functions mentioned above, including interventions in the economy throughsponsorship of trade unions business activities and cooperatives, and political roles, amongothers.The Roles of Trade UnionsPolitical role Trade unions lobby with political parties and political leaders to secure legislativeprotection for workers from the Government this is done through using collective power toinfluence decisions on behalf of members. Many trade unions are able to use their influence, andsometimes power to impact on political decisions. In exercising their political power, tradeunions have to be wary of dynamics of party political structures in the communities. In someterritories, trade unions are still linked, almost organically, with political parties. In others, trade 3 4. remains uncommitted and unrelated to any particular party, basing power on the support of themembership. Trade unions because of their basis and deep commitment to their membership,which is largely drawn from the cohorts of the working class, may find themselves in conflictwith parties which are often mult–class coalition dominated by interests which are not alwaysfavourable to the masses. Stabilization and structural adjustment policies pursued by somepolitical parties supposedly linked to the movement, have led to alienation and disruption ofrelationships between parties and unions.Market role this is done by intervention wage bargaining and thus impact on the economy.Trade unions negotiates and bargains with the management on salaries and wages, whichexclusively, helps to distribute the value added in the business firm and increasing the spendingpower of their members in the economy. In societies where the majority of people are wage orsalary earners, the role of the trade union in regulating the local economy is extremely important.Trade unions direct their efforts at protecting their workers against the ravages of inflation, andtrying to improve living standards of members as well as to defend their member’s right to workand they are supportive of both macro and micro economic policies which would be conduciveto high employment.Regulatory role Trade unions negotiates and bargains with the management to settle standardsin relation to jobs and terms and conditions of employment. The strength of the trade union at theworkplace level determines its ability to perform its job regulation function. Strong trade unionshave entered into arrangements where the power of management has to be shared with the unionat the workplace. Jointly agreed procedures for dealing with major issues in the workplace suchas grievance, discipline, job evaluation, redundancy, work changes, safety and health, along withthe right to negotiate terms and conditions through collective bargaining, provide the sound basisfor unions to perform regulatory functions. Trade unions are currently trying to expand such jointarrangements to cover areas such as training, equal rights for part-time employees, sexualharassment, treatment of those with chronic diseases.Democratizing role, in creating industrial democracy at the workplace. The trade union’s rankand file are provided with the opportunity of electing their stewards, committees of management,and through the delegate system, their executives and other leaders. The process of preparationfor collective bargaining also encourages workers participation. Trade unions fertile institutions 4 5. for the furtherance of participatory democracy, for the freedom of assembly, the right to speakfreely and the right to exercise choice. Traditionally the separation between capital and labourhas created a situation where it has been accepted that management is imbued with the right tomanage, which is interpreted to mean that workers are mere resources to be manipulated like anyother resources. Decisions were made at the top and, and through the route of edicts anddirectives, were passed through various levels to the rank and file. Like opportunity was affordedto challenge these directives. Those who tried to do so were branded by the system. Conformityand compliance were highly valued. The hierarchical system within the workplace conformed tothe system within the wider society, with those at the level of the boardroom and managementderiving from a different class origin, and sometimes, a different ethnic origin from those on theshop floor. Power in the society was reflective of power in the work place. Access to popularpolitical participation, through the right to vote, has led to demands by workers for economicdemocracy, defined as the right to participate in industrial democracy. Trade unionist havedemanded the right to have workers sit on the Board of Directors as the epitome of workplacedemocracyServices role In promoting the intervention of members Trade unions attempt to developservices which are valuable to their members as individuals, outside of the scope of collectivebargaining. In the early stages, this took the form of mutual assistance, but with the onset of thewelfare state, with provisions for national insurance and similar schemes, this demand hasabated. Yet trade unions have recognized the need to expand their roles in assisting theirmembers in a variety of areas such as issue of pension funds. In many instances, trade unionsnegotiate pensions for workers. Trade unions have been able to offer professional, advisory andmanagement services to assist in establishing business for the workers, and in some cases, tradeunions have actually become shareholders in those workers businesses. Trade union also supplylegal and medical services for their members. Some trade unions recognize the high cost of legalrepresentation and seek to provide legal assistance to their members. This is especially importantin areas where the collective bargaining and grievance handling process is highly regulatedEnhancement role in helping to develop the human potential of members. Trade unionsprovide the opportunity for workers to develop, to reach positions of leadership and to excel. 5 6. Many trade unions make arrangements for the education of workers and their family members.Trade unions make workers conscious of their rights and duties as well as the need fortechnological changes .It act as a positive force for change by winning employees’ support to theintroduction of new technologies and work organization. Therefore the role of trade union ineducation is crucial since it helps members to develop their potential.Welfare role in providing assistance to particular groups. Some trade unions have activelyengaged in providing welfare services for members and even for the wider community. Thistakes various forms including the employment of those who have disabilities, as an example tothe wider community, the provision of family services including baby crèches, child care centersand old people’s home as well as sports and recreational centers in depressed areasProtest role Trade unions organize demonstrations, strikes, and other forms of protest to pressthe demand of workers. During a strike the union may provide financial and other help tomembers when the employer stops wages.Protection role Trade unions safeguard workers against all sorts of exploitation by the employerand political parties .It provide protection from un fair labour practices such as un fairtermination of employment and atrocities of management. It also tries to revise the status ofworkers in industry and society.Advice role and Consultancy role Trade unions may provide advice and information tomanagement on human resource policies and practices. Also impress upon workers the need toexercise restraint in the use of their right. Trade unions assist employers in maintain disciplineand in increasing productivity. Trade unions may play a role as advisor to a member who hassexual harassment complaints providing guidance. It also has an opportunity to encourageemployers to adopt adequate policies and procedure to protect their dignity at work place. Incase of consultation, the trade union may be involved in joint consultative committee where asnegotiations may be conducted through collective bargaining and this can only take place wherethe union has been recognized by management as a legitimate representation of the company’semployees 6 7. Communication role A trade union reserves as a link between employers and employees so asto develop mutual understanding and cooperation between the two sides. It can also instill amongworkers a sense of responsibility and commitment toward industry objectivesGenerally, trade union functions have developed out of historical circumstances. In somesituations, trade unions function within the narrow business/organization union function, limitingtheir interventions to their market and job regulation aspects. In other areas unions are malt-issueand multifunctional institutions, conforming more to the idea of the trade unions as being part ofa movement. In some instances, trade unions transcend the representation of their membershipand reach out on behalf of non-members, including the unemployed, the disabled and who needtheir assistance in the wider community. 7 8. REFERENCESMartin Ross M. Trade Unionism: Purpose And Form, Clarendon Press.Employment and Labour Relations Act, 2004P R. Sinha. [2004] Industrial Relations, Trade unions, and Labour Legislation, Person Education,DelhiC B. Gupta [2010] Human Resources Management, Sultan Chand & Sons, New Delhi.Eugene Mckenna & NicBeech [2002] Human Resources Management, Pearson Education,England.V.I Lenin [1965] The New Economic Policy, Progress Publisher, Moscow 8