In India, trade unions are governed under national and state-specific legislation. The right to form and join a trade union, and engage in collective bargaining etc. are provided under these laws. Also, the Constitution of India guarantees a fundamental right “to form associations or unions.”
The Trade Unions Act, 1926 is the original act related to labour unions in India. The Act provides for formation and registration of trade unions and in certain respects to define the law relating to registered Trade Unions.
The Industrial Dispute Act, 1947, also deals with trade unions. It primarily regulates the rights of employers and employees in the investigation and settlement of industrial disputes.
Recognized by the Ministry of Labour, Government of India:
- AICCTU – All India Central Council of Trade Unions
- AITUC – All India Trade Union Congress (Communist Party of India)
- AIUTUC – All India United Trade Union Centre (Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist))
- BMS – Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, wing of Bharatiya Janata Party)
- CITU – Centre of Indian Trade Unions (Communist Party of India (Marxist))
- HMS – Hind Mazdoor Sabha (Unaffiliated)
- INTUC – Indian National Trade Union Congress (Indian National Congress)
- LPF – Labour Progressive Federation
- NFITU – National Front of Indian Trade Unions (Unaffiliated )
- SEWA – Self Employed Women’s Association (Unaffiliated)
- TUCC – Trade Union Coordination Centre (All India Forward Bloc)
- UTUC – United Trade Union Congress (Revolutionary Socialist Party)
The Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC)
In May 1947 INTUC was formed by the Congress Party and the top congress leaders like Mr. Nehru and Patel were associated with it.
The objectives of the union are to adopt peaceful means for the settlement of labour disputes. The Government of India declared this union in 1948 as the most representative union in the country. It represented Indian labour organisations at the International Labour Organisation meets right upto 1978. But the Government of India has broken this monopoly and nominated a member of the Hind Mazdoor Sangh to represent the working class at the world labour meet at Geneva on June 3, 1979. Every union affiliated to INTUC has to submit its dispute to arbitration after exhausting other means of settlement of disputes. It has strong roots in West Bengal, Assam, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Bihar. It has large number of members from textiles, tea, jute, transport and mining industries.
The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS)
This union was formed as an affiliate to Bhartiya Jan Sangh Party. During the last couple of years its membership has gone up. This gives it the third position and the H.M.S. has been pushed down the fourth position.
The AH India Trade Union Congress (AITUC)
This union came into existence in 1920 mainly on the pattern of the British Trade Unions. It serves as the labour forum of Communist party of India at present. It is considered as the second largest union in India. It is very strong in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Punjab.
The Hind Mazdoor Sangh (H.M.S.)
It was formed in December 1981 in Calcutta by the socialists who neither approved INTUC nor A1TUC. The HMS was organised with a view to keeping its members free from any political or other outside interference. Its members are generally from industries like railways, cotton textiles, coal mining, engineering and post and telegraph department. The Praja Socialist party and Samyuktha Socialist party dominated this union. These parties became constituents of the Janta Party.
The United Trade Union Congress (UTUC)
It was formed on 30th April 1949 by those persons who were dissident socialists. It functions mainly in Kerala, West Bengal, Bihar and Tamil Nadu. Its political affiliations are with left-wing parties.
The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU)
It was formed in 1970. It has 2,231 affiliated unions having 1 1, 12,328 members.