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The Role of Trade Union

Trade unions are unique organisations whose role is variously interpreted and understood by different interest groups in the society. Traditionally trade unions role has been to protect jobs and real earnings, secure better conditions of work and life and fight against exploitation and arbitrariness to ensure fairness and equity in employment contexts. In the wake of a long history of union movement and accumulated benefits under collective agreements, a plethora of legislations and industrial jurisprudence, growing literacy and awareness among the employees and the spread of a variety of social institutions including consumer and public interest groups the protective role must have undergone, a qualitative change. It can be said that the protective role of trade unions remains in form, but varies in substance.

There is a considerable debate on the purposes and role of trade unions. The predominant view, however, is that the concerns of trade unions extend beyond 'bread and butter' issues. Trade unions through industrial action (such as protests and strikes) and political action (influencing Government policy) establish minimum economic and legal conditions and restrain abuse of labour wherever the labour is organised. Trade unions are also seen as moral institutions, which will uplift the weak and downtrodden and render them the place, the dignity and justice they deserve.

Formation of INTUC:

Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) is the trade union wing of the Indian National Congress. It was founded May 3, 1947, and is affiliated with the ICFTU Asia and Pacific Regional Organisation. Thus INTUC was born on May 3, 1947 as historic necessity, just before Indian attained independence. The constitution of INTUC was also blessed by Mahatma Gandhi.

With the formation of National Government Sardar Vallbhbhai Patel advocated very strongly the cause of forming a new central organisation of labour. It was his view that the National Government must have the support of organised labour and for this purpose the AITUC cannot be relied upon since it was thriving on foreign support and used to change its colours according to the will of its foreign masters

So, on 3rd may 1947, the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) was formed. The number of unions represented in the inaugural meet was around 200 with a total membership of over 5,75,000.n There was now no doubt that the AITUC was the labour organisation of the communists, and the INTUC the labour organisation of the congress This was further confirmed when the congress socialists, who had stayed behind in the AITUC, decided to walk out in 1948 and form the Hind Mazdoor Panchayat (HMP). The socialists hoped to draw into their fold all non-congress and non-communist trade unionists. This hope was partly realised when the Roy faction IFL merged with the HMP to form the Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS). However, the inaugural session of the HMS witnessed yet another split in the labour movement. Revolutionary socialists and other non-communist Marxist groups from West Bengal under the leadership of Shri Mrinal Kanti Bose alleged that the HMS was dominated by socialists and decided to form the United Trade Union Congress (UTUC). The UTUC is formally committed to the pursuit of a classless society and non-political unionism. In practice, however, many of its members are supporters of the Revolutionary Socialist Party.

By the fifties the fragmentation of the labour movement on political lines had become a permanent fact. Disunity was costing the labour movement dearly. There were periodic attempts at unity, but nothing much came of them. The INTUC was firmly opposed to any alliance with the communists. The HMS was willing to consider a broad-based unity that would include all groups, but not for any arrangement with the AITUC alone. The major stumbling block to unity was the bitter experience to other groups had with the communists in the thirties. Even in specific industries such as railways where a merger between rival groups did take place, unity was short-lived All that could be achieved between rival trade unions were purely local ad-hoc arrangements.

  • Indian National Trade Union Congress
  • Founded May 3, 1947
  • Members +6 million
  • Country India
  • Affiliation ITUC
  • Key people Sanjeeva Reddy, president
  • Office location New Delhi, India
  • Visit us : http://www.intuc.net/