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Trade union is a voluntary organization of workers pertaining to a particular trade, industry or a company and formed to promote and protect their interests and welfare by collective action. They are the most suitable organisations for balancing and improving the relations between the employer and the employees. They are formed not only to cater to the workers’ demand, but also for inculcating in them the sense of discipline and responsibility.

They aim to:-

  • Secure fair wages for workers and improve their opportunities for promotion and training.
  • Safeguard security of tenure and improve their conditions of service.
  • Improve working and living conditions of workers.
  • Provide them educational, cultural and recreational facilities.
  • Facilitate technological advancement by broadening the understanding of the workers.
  • Help them in improving levels of production, productivity, discipline and high standard of living.
  • Promote individual and collective welfare and thus correlate the workers’ interests with that of their industry.

In India, the first organised trade union was formed in 1918 and since then they have spread in almost all the industrial centres of the country.

  1. The legislation regulating these trade unions is the Indian Trade Unions Act, 1926.
  2. The Act deals with the registration of trade unions, their rights, their liabilities and responsibilities as well as ensures that their funds are utilised properly.
  3. It gives legal and corporate status to the registered trade unions.
  4. It also seeks to protect them from civil or criminal prosecution so that they could carry on their legitimate activities for the benefit of the working class.
  5. The Act is applicable not only to the union of workers but also to the association of employers.
  6. It extends to whole of India. Also, certain Acts, namely, the Societies Registration Act, 1860; the Co-operative Societies Act, 1912; and the Companies Act, 1956 shall not apply to any registered trade union, and that the registration of any such trade union under any such Act shall be void.
  7. The Act is administered by the Ministry of Labour through its Industrial Relations Division.

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved amendment to the Trade Union Act, 1926, paving way for the central government to recognize trade unions. The move is expected to bring in transparency in tripartite discussions besides checking on arbitrary nominations and reducing litigations.

The amendment provides for insertion of section 10A in the principal Act to power centre and state governments to recognize trade unions and federation of trade unions at central as well as state level.

The Indian Trade Unions Act, 1926 provides for only registration of trade unions basis on which there are 12 central trade unions.

According to labour ministry, the move will result in greater transparency in nomination of workers’ representatives in tripartite bodies. “It will ensure true representation of workers, check on arbitary nominations of workers and reduce litigations and industrial unrest,” it said.


The benefits of formal recognition to the trade unions are:

  • Ensure true representation of workers in the tripartite bodies in a transparent manner.
  • Check on the arbitrary nomination of workers’ representatives by the Government.
  • Reduce the duplicacy of such exercise by different departments.
  • The recognised trade unions may be assigned specific roles at Central or State level. This would aid in developing inclusive governance.

The Indian Trade Unions Act, 1926 provided for only registration of trade unions and there was a long pending demand to grant recognition to trade unions. The amendment bill fulfils this long-standing demand.



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