Theories of Trade Union

There are 5 types of trade union theories are as follows:

  1. Revolutionary Theory
  2. Evolutionary Theory
  3. Theory of Industrial Jurisprudence
  4. Rebellion Theory
  5. The Gandhian Approach.

Trade Union Theories

1. Revolutionary Theory: According to Marx, trade union was the foremost organizing center to provide locus for streamlining the forces of working classes The trade unions are, for Marx, the instruments to overthrow capitalism.

Thus, Prime instruments of the class struggle between proletarian workers and capitalist businessmen. Marx advocated that the working class must not divert itself from its revolutionary programme because it is labour struggle only that can abolish capitalism. To Marx, workers’ emancipation involves abolition of capitalism

2. Evolutionary Theory: It also known as “theory of industrial democracy” was enunciated by Sydney and Beatrice Webbs. To Webbs, Trade unionism is an extension of the principle of democracy in the industrial sphere. In other words, trade unionism is not an instrument to overthrow the capitalism, but a means of equalizing the bargaining power of labour and capital.

Trade unionism provides a means by which workers overcome managerial dictatorship, on the one hand, and express their voice in the determination of the conditions under which they have to work, on the other.

3. Rebellion Theory: To Frank Tannenbaum, the propounded of “Rebellion Theory”, trade unionism is a spontaneous outcome in the growth of mechanization. He believes that the use of machines leads to exploitation of workers. Thus, machine is the cause and labour movement, i.e., trade unionism is the result. In other words, trade unionism is a rebellion approach against mechanization automation of industrial society to protect workers’ interest in the enterprise.

4. The Gandhian Approach: Gandhian approach of trade unionism is not only related to material aspect but also moral and intellectual aspects. Gandhi emphasized that the direct aim of a trade unionism is not, in the last degree political. Instead, its direct aim is internal reform and also evolution of internal strength. Also, trade unionism, according to the Gandhian approach, is not anti-capitalistic as is generally viewed.

5. Theory of Industrial Jurisprudence: According to S. H. Slitcher the propounded of the “Theory of Industrial Jurisprudence”, workers individually fail in bargaining with employers for protecting their interests. In his view, trade unionism served as a means for workers to protect them in work. Such an approach of trade unionism, Slitcher termed as “a system of industrial jurisprudence”.