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Describe the Structure of trade unions in India. Discuss the methods of verification of union membership and state the advantage and disadvantages of each of these methods.
2. Describe the Structure of trade unions in India. Discuss the methods of verification of union membership and state the advantage and disadvantages of each of these methods.
By 1949, four central trade union organizations were functioning in the country:
The All India Trade Union Congress,
The Indian National Trade Union Congress,
The Hindu Mazdoor Sangh, and
The United Trade Union Congress
The working class movement was also politicized along the lines of political parties. For instance Indian national trade Union Congress (INTUC) is the trade union arm of the Congress Party. The AITUC is the trade union arm of the Communist Party of India. Besides workers, white-collar employees, supervisors and managers are also organized by the trade unions, as for example in the Banking, Insurance and Petroleum industries.
Trade unions in India
The Indian workforce consists of 430 million workers, growing 2% annually. The Indian labor markets consist of three sectors:
The rural workers, who constitute about 60 per cent of the workforce.
Organized sector, which employs 8 per cent of workforce, and
The urban informal sector (which includes the growing software industry and other services, not included in the formal sector) which constitutes the rest 32 per cent of the workforce.
At present there are twelve Central Trade Union Organizations in India:
All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC)
Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS)
Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU)
Hind Mazdoor Kisan Panchayat (HMKP)
Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS)
Indian Federation of Free Trade Unions (IFFTU)
Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC)
National Front of Indian Trade Unions (NFITU)
National Labor Organization (NLO)
Trade Unions Co-ordination Centre (TUCC)
United Trade Union Congress (UTUC) and
United Trade Union Congress - Lenin Sarani (UTUC - LS)
The development of industries led to large-scale production on the one hand and social evils like employment and exploitation of women and child labour and the deplorable workable conditions, the government’s attitude of complete indifference in respect of protection of labour from such evils, on the other.
The memorial demanded: i. a complete day of rest every Saturday; ii. Half an hour’s rest at noon; iii. Working hour no longer than 6.30 p.m., which should cease at sunset; iv. The payment to injured worker until they recovered together with suitable compensation, if they are permanently disabled.
According to Pandey, the important factors which have helped in the emergence and growth of the industrial labour movement are:
While the economic hardships of workers have been present as a latent force, the impetus for the growth of labour movement is provided by the major political currents, particularly movement for national independence.
The failure of workers’ initial attempts to organize led them to seek the help of philanthropists and social workers who generally came from classes higher in economic and social status.
Early Trade Union Period (1918-1924)
The year 1918 was an important one for the Indian trade union movement.
The industrial unrest that grew up as a result of grave economic difficulties created by war. The rising cost of living prompted the workers to demand reasonable wages for which purpose they united to take resort to collective action.
The swaraj movement intensified the movement, widened the gulf between the employers and the employees and brought about a mass awakening among the workers demanding racial equality with their British employers.
The success of the Russian Revolution of 1917 created a revolutionary wave of ideas and a new self-respect and enlightenment, and added momentum to the feeling of class-consciousness among laborers.
The establishment of the I.L.O., in 1919, gave dignity to the working class and also an opportunity to send a delegation to the annual conference of this body.
Immediately after the war many Indian soldiers in the British army were demobilized and into the labour market.
The non-co-operative movement of Gandhiji during 1920-21 and his support to the demands of industrial labour also greatly influenced the working class movement.
Left-Wing Unionism Period (1924-1934)
In 1924, a violent and long-drawn-out strike by unions led to the arrest, prosecution, conviction and imprisonment of many communist leaders. The rapid growth of the trade unionism was facilitated by several factors, such as:
The growth of anti-imperialist national movement;
The brutal violence and repressive measures let loose by the British government, particularly the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, Rowlatt Act, indiscriminate arrests and imprisonment of national leaders and Satyagrahis,
The phenomenal profits earned by the capitalists in the face of falling real wages during the post-war period
Trade Union’s Unity Period (1935-1938)
In mid-thirties the state of divided labour movement was natural thought undesirable and soon after the first split, attempts at trade union unity began to be made through the efforts of the Roy Group on the basis of ‘a platform of unity’.
The division in the Indian labour movement was proving very costly for the Indian working class. In 1933, more than 50,000 workers in Bombay city were thrown out of employment.
The unity efforts were synchronized by a popular upheaval as evidenced by the 1937 general elections.
According to Punekar, “During the decade 1930-40 Indian trade unionism was a divided house and the average industrial worker kept himself aloof from organized action.”
Second World War Period (1939-1945)
The Second World War, which broke out in September 1939, created new strains in the united trade union movement.
Hence, again a rift took place in 1941 and the Radicals left the AITUC with nearly 200 unions with a membership of 3, 00,000 and formed a new central federation known as the Indian Federation of Labour.
During war-time certain factors helped to enhance the status of the trade unions in the country, namely, The government as well as employers launched a number of labour welfare measures with a view to increase production of war materials and other essential goods and maintain high profits.
Recognition to trade unions was accorded by many employers. This fact gave amoral strength to the unions.
Ban was placed on the strikes and lockouts, during war-time, under the Defence of India Rules 81-A, and all disputes had to be referred to adjudication and their awards were enforced.
A Tripartite Labour Conference was convened in 1942, for the first time, to provide a common platform for discussions and mutual understanding between the labour and the employers.
The Post-Independence Period (From 1947 to-date)
As pointed out earlier, when attempts to restructure the AITUC failed, those believing in the aims and ideals other than those of the AITUC separated from the organization and established the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) in May, 1947.
It reads: “Congressmen in general and particularly those working in the field of labour have found it very difficult to co-operate any longer with the AITUC which has repeatedly been adopting a course completely disregarding, or even in opposition to the declared policy and advice of the Indian National Congress.
The HMS was launched ostensibly with a view to “keep the trade union movement free from domination by government and political parties and the methods to be employed were to be peaceful, legitimate and democratic.”
In 1958, the HMS and the UTUC reached an agreement to create a joint front against the AITUC which was working inroads in their membership.
The post-war period has been made by the trade union movement in India. The most important factors being:
The constant inflow of outside and international influences;
The pressure of trade union rivalries, often based on political or ideological differences;
Government’s Industrial Relations Policy with its provision for compulsory adjudication machinery;
The enactment of labour laws conferring special privileges on registered trade unions;
Desire of workers to unite for safeguarding their interest especially to face harder conditions for labour such as retrenchment, lay-off, etc.;
Attempts made by some employers to set up unions under their influence.
Present Scenario of the Trade Union Movement
The Indian trade unions have come to stay now not as ad hoc bodies or strike committees but as permanent features of the industrial society.
The unions succeeded in organizing Central Union Federations which help in the determination of principles, philosophy, ideology and purposes of the unions and give some sense of direction to the otherwise scattered and isolated large number of unions.
The unions have achieved a remarkable status where their voices are heard by the government and the employers; they are consulted on matters pertaining to improvement in conditions of work health and safety, job security, wages, productivity, all matters concerning the interests of labour.
The trade union rivalries have become sharper in free India. The splitting up of unions and formation of new unions having sympathies with political parties have permitted unions operating at different levels.
The Indian National Trade Union Congress
The INTUC came into existence on 4th May, 1948, as a result of the resolution passed on 17th November 1947, by the Central Board of the Hindustan Mazdoor Sevak Sangh, which was a labour leader on the Gandhian Philosophy of Sarvodaya.
Objectives: The aims of the INTUC are:
to establish an order of society which is free from hindrances to an all-round development of its individual members, which fosters the growth of human personality in all its aspects, and which goes to the utmost limit in progressively eliminating social, political or economic exploitation and inequality, the profit motive in the economic activity and organization of society and the anti-social concentration of power in any form;
to place industry under national ownership and control in a suitable form;
to secure increasing association of workers in the administration of industry and their full participation in that control;
to organize society in such a manner as to ensure full employment and the best utilization of its manpower and other resources;
to promote social, civic and political interest of the working class;
to establish just industrial relations;
to secure redressal of grievances, without stoppage of work, by means of negotiation, conciliation, and failing these, arbitration and adjudication;
to take other legislative methods, including strikes or any suitable form of satyagraha, where adjudication is not applied and settlement of disputes within reasonable time by arbitration is not available for the redress of grievances;
to make necessary arrangement for the efficient conduct and satisfactory and speedy conclusion of authorized strikes or satyagraha;
to foster the spirit of solidarity, service, brotherhood, co-operation and mutual help among the workers;
to develop in the workers a sense of responsibility towards industry and the community;
to raise the worker’s standard of efficiency and discipline.
All-India Trade Union Congress (AITUC)
It was established in 1920 as result of a resolution passed by the organized workers of Bombay and the delegates which met I a conference on 31st October, 1920.
Objectives: The basic objectives of the AITUC are:
to establish a socialist state in India;
to socialize and nationalize means of production, distribution and exchange;
to ameliorate the economic and social conditions of the working class;
to watch, promote, and further the interests, rights, and privileges of the workers in all matters relating to their employment;
to secure and maintain for the workers the freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of association freedom of assembly, the right to strike, and the right to work and maintenance;
to co-ordinate the activities of the labour unions affiliated to the AITUC;
to abolish political or economic advantage based on caste, creed, community, race or religion;
to secure and maintain for the workers the right to strike.
United Trade Union Congress (UTUC)
Some trade union leaders of the socialist bent met together December 1948 to form a new central organization of labour, called Hind Mazdoor Sabha.
The objectives of the UTUC are:
to establish a socialist society in India;
to establish a workers’ and peasants’ state in India;
to nationalize and socialize the means of production, distribution and exchange;
to safeguard and promote the interests, rights, and privileges to the workers in all matters, social, cultural, economic and political;
to secure and maintain workers’ freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of association, freedom of assembly, right to strike, right to work or maintenance and the right to social security;
to bring about unity in the trade union movement.
Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS)
This union has been the outcome of decision taken by the Jana Sangh in its Convention at Bhopal on 23rd July, 1954.
to establish the Bhartiya order of classless society in which there shall be secured full employment;
to assist workers in organizing themselves in trade unions as medium of service to the motherland irrespective of faiths and political affinities;
the right to strike;
to inculcate in the minds of the workers the spirit of service, co-operation and dutifulness and develop in them a sense of responsibility towards the nation in general and the industry in particular.
The BMS is a productivity-oriented non-political trade union. Its ideological basis is the triple formula:
nationalize the labour;
labourise the industry;
industrialise the nation;
National Front of Indian Trade Unions (NFITU)
This union was founded in 1967, with the claim that “this trade union of India is not controlled by any of the political party, employers or government.”
to organize and unite trade unions with the object of building up a National Central Organisation of trade unions, independent of political parties, employers and the government, to further the cause of labour and that of national solidarity security and defence of India, and to make the working people conscious of their right as well as of obligations in all spheres of life;
to secure to members of trade unions full facilities of recognition and effective representation of interests of workers and to ensure for the working people fair conditions of life and service and progressively to raise their social, economic and cultural state and conditions;
to help in every possible way member trade unions in their fight to raise real wages of the workers;
to endeavour to secure for members of affiliated trade unions adoption of progressive legislation for their welfare and to ensure the effective environment of the rights and interests of members of affiliated trade unions and for the working people in general.
Centre of Indian Trade Union (CITU)
This union was formed in 1970 when as a result of the rift in the AITUC, some members of the Communist party seceded. About the objectives of the CITU, its constitution says:
The CITU believes that the exploitation of the working class can be ended only by socializing all means of production, distribution and exchange and establishing a socialist state, that is, it stands for the complete emancipation of the society from all exploitation.
The CITU fights against all encroachments on the economic and social rights of the workers and the enlargement of their rights and liberties including the right to strike, for winning, defending and extending the freedom of the democratic trade union movement.
In the fight for the immediate interest of the working class the CITU demands: (a) nationalization of all foreign monopoly concerns who barbarously exploit the working class; (b) nationalization of all concerns owned by Indian monopolists and big industry who garner huge profits at the expenses of the workers, who exploit the people by pegging prices at a high level and who dictate the anti-labour and anti-people policies of the government.
The CITU fights against the repressive policy of the government towards the democratic and trade union movement;
Comparative Study of Four Original Central Organizations
Although there are as many as nine central labour organizations in the country, only four are of great importance: the INTUC, the AITUC, the BMS and the UTUC.
The INTUC aims at the Sarvodaya ideal and stands for gradual transformation of the existing social order.
The AITUC aims at socializing and nationalizing all means of production, distribution and exchange as far as possible.
The INTUC, too, aims at placing industry under national ownership and control in a suitable form in order to reaslise the desired order of society.
The securing and maintenance or workers’ freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press etc., has been mentioned in the constitutions of all organizations except the INTUC.
The machinery for organization of labour is practically the same under all the four organizations.
The Central Organisation itself is generally composed of a Delegates’ Assembly, a General Council, and a Working Committee, with a division of responsibilities among them which is more or less the same in the case of all four organizations.
As regards the methods of attaining the desired objectives there are some valid differences.
To achieve the objectives, the INTUC urges the placing of industry under national ownership and control in suitable form and the full participation in its control.
On the other hand, the AITUC also strives for socialization and nationalization of the means of production, distribution and exchange, but by more radical and violent means.
The UTUC, which was created with the avowed purpose of liberating the labour movement of its political affiliations, is radical in nature, non-communist and anti-INTUC.
As regards leadership, all the four organizations have their political affiliations, and the leadership, therefore, lies in the hands of the politicians, and not in those of the working class, which is yet illiterate and backward to wield any influence.
The AITUC is pro-communist. It is led by the Right CPI. Its attitude towards the government is not entirely hostile, but of course highly critical of the government.
The UTUC is radical, non-communist and anti-INTUC. It is led by some independent trade union leaders, the Forward Block and the Revolutionary Socialist Party.
On the international level, the INTUC is affiliated to the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) – an organization mainly supported by the Anglo American block; while the AITUC is affiliated to the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), supported by the Communist block.
Verification of Membership of Trade Unions 1. General Verification General verification of membership of Trade Unions affiliated to Central Trade Unions Trade Unions Organizations (CTUO) is an important exercise which undertaken by the CLC(C) Organizations on the directions of Ministry of Labour & Employment. The Purpose of General Verification is to determine the representation of CTUOs in the various national and international councils, committees, conferences, etc. The last three General Verifications were conducted with date of reckoning 31.12.1980, 31.12.1989 and 31.12.2002 and the results of the verification were published by the Ministry of Labour in 1985, Dec., 1996 and Jan., 2008 respectively (Annexer Results). At present all those Central Trade Unions who have verified membership of five lakhs spread over in at least four states and four industries are given status of Central Trade Union Organization. This criteria is likely to be revised upward for the fresh General Verification. The process of fresh General verification of trade unions affiliated to Central Trade Unions has been initiated as per directives of the Ministry of Labour & Employment. Till date 5 meetings of the Standing Committee on General Verification have been held so far under the chairmanship of Chief Labour Commissioner (C) and the following issues have been decided for the fresh verification. (i) Date of reckoning as 31.12.2011. (ii) Procedure for General Verification (iii) Criteria for granting status of Central Trade Union Organisation - As per the revised procedure approved by the Standing Committee on General Verification only those Trade Union Organisations whose affiliates have at least a combined verified membership of eight lakh and unions registered in at least eight states and membership presence in at least eight industries, would be recognized by the Government of India as Central Trade Union Organisations. (iv) Industries for which verification claims are to be called and verified. Notification has been issued on 1st Nov.,2012 through an advertisement in all important national daily newspapers inviting interested Central Trade Unions to file their membership claims for verification latest by 31st Jan.,2013. The copies of the State-wise and industry wise results of last three General Verifications held with date of reckoning as 31-12-2002, 31-12-1989 and 31-12-1980 are enclosed as Annexure A,B and C respectively. 1. Verification of membership of trade unions operating in an establishment to identify majority union for recognition under Code of Discipline. • The Code of Discipline was ratified by all central employers and workers organizations at the sixteenth session of the Indian Labour Conference held at Nainital in May, 1958, and came into force from June 1, 1958. • The criteria for recognition of a trade union under Code of Discipline is annexed as Annexure-A • As per the procedure laid down in appendix iv of Code of Discipline, the verification of membership of trade unions operating in an establishment is conducted at three stages (i) Physical verification of records of trade unions all those workers who have paid subscription of union for at least three months in the preceding six months on the date of reckoning are considered as members of that trade union. (ii) Muster Roll checking at this stage, muster rolls of the establishment are checked to ensure that all those workers whose membership have been physically verified as mentioned in para-i above, were actually on the rolls of establishment on the date of reckoning. (iii) Spot verification at this stage certain percentage of selected sampled workers, out of those objected by the other rivalry unions, are personally interrogated to confirm the membership of union which has claimed him as its member. Thus finally verified membership of a trade union is arrived at. Verification through Check-off method In this method management extends the facility of deduction of unions subscription from the salary of the member worker and the amount is given to the union in favour of which a workers has given his written consent for deduction of subscription. The management verifies the membership of a union on the basis of subscription given by the workers to different unions operating in the establishment. Verification through Secret Ballot method In this method majority union is identified on the basis of secret ballot conducted in the establishment. All workers who are on the rolls of the management on a particular date (i.e. date of reckoning) are allowed to caste their votes in favour of one union through secret ballot. However, as there is no law in this regard, the verification through secret ballot is conducted only if all the unions operating in an establishment and management give their consent in writing for conducting verification through secret ballot. On the basis of unanimity arrived in a meeting of Central Trade Union Organisations under the Chairmanship of AS, Mo L&E, Ministry of Labour has issued instructions dated 8.4.2011 regarding method of verification to be adopted in the different establishments of Central Sphere. As per these instructions if in any establishment verification was last done through secret ballot, this method will be adopted even if consent of the recognized union is not available. However, if there is demand for changing the mode of verification, this will be done only if all parties are unanimous for the change of mode.Verification of membership of trade unions operating in the State Bank of India, its Subsidiary Banks and Nationalized Banks to identify representative union and for the purpose of appointment of a workman as Employee Director. The verification of Membership of Trade Union operating in the State Bank of India and its various Subsidiary Banks, as well as other Nationalized Banks, to identify the representative union, is governed by the following four statutory schemes/ Rules- 1. Ministry of Finance (Department of Financial Services) NOTIFICATION dated 19th November, 2008 S.O. 2695(E)- Nationalized Banks (Management and Miscellaneous Provisions) (Amendment) Scehme,2008. The above scheme has come in place of the earlier scheme known as Nationalised banks (Management and Misc. Provisions) Scheme, 1970. The following Nationalised Banks are covered under this scheme. 1. Union Bank of India 2. Indian Bank 3. Syndicate Bank 4. Dena Bank 5. Bank of Maharashtra 6. Bank of India 7. Indian Overseas Bank 8. Allahabad Bank 9. United Commercial Bank 10. United Bank of India 11. Central Bank of India 12. Punjab National Bank 13. Canara Bank 14. Bank of Baroda 2. Ministry of Finance (Department of Financial Services) NOTIFICATION dated 19th November, 2008 S.O. 2696(E) - Nationalised Banks (Management and Miscellaneous Provisions) (Amendment) Scheme, 2008. The above scheme has come in place of the earlier scheme known as Nationalised banks (Management and Misc. Provisions) Scheme, 1980. The following Nationalised Banks are covered under this scheme 1. Corporation Bank 2. Punjab & Sind Bank 3. New Bank of India (Now merged with PNB) 4. Oriental Bank of Commerce 5. Andhra Bank 6. Vijaya Bank3. Ministry of Finance (Department of Financial Services) NOTIFICATION dated 19th November, 2008 S.O. 2697(E)-State Bank of India(Appointment of Employee Directors) (Amendment) Rules,2008. The above scheme has come in place of the earlier scheme known as The State Bank of India (Appointment of Employee Directors) Rules, 1974. This scheme covers The State Bank of India. 4. Ministry of Finance (Department of Financial Services) NOTIFICATION dated 19th November,2008 S.O. 2698(E)-(Appointment of Employee Directors) (Amendment) Rules,2008. The above scheme has come in place of the earlier scheme known as The State Bank of India (Appointment of Employee Directors) Rules, 1974. The following subsidiary banks are covered under the above scheme. 1. State Bank of Saurastra 2. State Bank of Bikaner & Jaipur 3. State Bank of Hyderabad 4. State Bank of Mysore 5. State Bank of Patiala 6. State Bank of Travancore 7. State Bank of Indore The procedure of verification of membership of Unions operating in the respective banks, provided in the above four schemes is through check off system. Under these schemes the verification of membership of trade unions is conducted through check off system by the designated officer at the level of General Manager nominated by Chairman or Managing Director. An appeal can be made against the report of the designated officer before the Appellate Authority, if the difference in membership contested or objected is more than five per cent of the total workmen employee strength of the bank or such that it can change the status of the representative union. Appellate Authority for the above purpose is the Central Government or the Deputy Chief Labour Commissioner(C), Ministry of Labour & Employment, Govt. of India.