Trade Union Problems

There are many Trade Union Problems within the organization and outside of the organization. The following are the trade union problems.

Trade Union Problems

Trade Union Problems in India

1. Uneven Growth: The growth of trade unions has not been even among the various industries. Plantations, coal mines, food industries, textiles, printing presses, chemicals and communications and commerce are the main organized industries in which unionism has made progress. The degree of unionization varies widely from industry. The manufacturing group contributed the largest share, followed by services, transport, communication and storage and cotton textiles. In other industries they are not well developed.

2. Small size of Unions: According to the veteran trade union leader V.V. Giri, “the trade union movement in India is plagued by the predominance of small sized unions”. To quote there were 9,023 trade unions submitting returns during the year 1992. The total membership of these unions was 57.4 lakhs, with an average membership of 632 per union. Nearly three-fourths of the unions have a membership of less than 500. Smallness in size of the union implies, among other things, weakness in bargaining power.

3. Financial Weakness: Trade unions suffer from financial weakness, for the average yearly income of a union has been rather low and inadequate. This is because the workers are apathetic towards trade unions and do not want to contribute a part of their hard earned money. Instead of making regular payments to the union,members make ad hoc payments if a dispute arises.

4. Leadership Issues: Another important problem of trade unions is the leadership of trade unions by persons who are professional politicians and lawyers of doctors and who are not employees of the organization. This is ‘leadership by intellectuals’ rather than ‘by workers’. It applies at the local as well as the national level. This phenomenon exists for several reasons:

  1. Being illiterate, the rank and file cannot communicate effectively with the management.
  2. Men in managerial position are generally members of higher castes than those of the rank and file unionists.
  3. Union members generally avoid victimization if they become office bearers of trade unions.
  4. Due to lake of financial resources trade unions do not appoint whole-time office bearers.

5. Political nature of Trade Unions: The Trade unions by their very nature are political. Trade unions through their collective action are organizations concerned with the interest of a particular class. However,they are also concerned with the distribution of power and decision-making. These two features make the trade unions political, and the inter-relationship between political and trade unions is perpetual. Both trade unions and political parties have a vested interest in each other as the effect of their actions and strength are of interest to each other.

6. Multiple unions: The multiple unions exist due to the existence of craft unions, formations of two or more unions in the industry. Multiple unionism is not a phenomenon unique to India. It exists even in advance countries like UK and USA. Multiple unionism affects the industrial relations system both positively and negatively. It is sometimes desirable for the healthy and democratic health of labour movement. It encourages a healthy competition and acts as a check to the adoption of undemocratic practice, authoritative structure and autocratic leadership. However, the negative impacts of multiple unions dominate the positive impacts. The nature of competition tends to convert itself into a sense of unfair competition resulting in inter-union rivalry. The rivalry destroys the feeling of mutual trust and cooperation among leadership. It is a major cause for weakening the Trade Union Movement in India. Multiple unionism also results in small size of the unions, poor finances, etc.

7. Domination of labour organizations by employees: Some employees tend to interfere with the administrative running of labour organizations. This they do through bribing union officials and by victimizing employees. This tends to weaken the bargaining power of trade unions.

8. Government Policies: Sometimes government formulating and changing Labour related acts, which are favorable to the owners of the Companies. So this is also one criterion for trade unions.