Functions of Trade Unions

Functions of Trade Unions

Trade unions perform several functions to achieve their objectives. The main functions of a trade union are as follows:

  1. Trade unions safeguard workers against all sorts of exploitation by the employer and political parties. A union provides protection from unfair labour practices and atrocities of management. It also tries to revise the status of workers in industry and society.
  2. Unions attempt to secure for workers fair wages, proper working conditions and welfare facilities like health, , housing , recreation and social security so as to ensure desirable living standards for them.
  3. Collective bargaining with management to settle terms and conditions of employment.
  4. Advice the management on personnel policies and practices.
  5. Taking up the individual and collective grievances of the workers with the management.
  6. Trade union work for achieving a better say of workers in the management of matters which directly influence the interests of workers
  7. Unions organize demonstrations, strikes and other forms of protest to press the demands of workers. During strike the union may provide financial land other help to members when the employer stops wages.
  8. Make arrangements for the education of workers and their family members.
  9. Some unions provide recreation, sports and other welfare facilities for their members.
  10. Trade unions represent workers in various national and international forums such as Indian Labour Conference and International Labour Organization (ILO)
  11. Secure legislative protection for the workers from the government.
  12. A trade union serves as a link between employers and workers so as to develop mutual understanding and cooperation between the two sides.

The functions performed by the trade unions may be broadly classified into three categories:

1. Militant Functions

The chief purpose of the trade unions is to secure better conditions of work and employment. The unions also endeavor to secure some share in productivity gains and a greater share in the management or even control of industry. When the unions fail to accomplish these ends by the method of collective bargaining and negotiations, they adopt agitational methods and put up fight with the management in the form of strike, boycott, gherao etc. – a situation that often turns into fierce antagonism.

2. Fraternal Functions

These functions include providing financial and non-financial assistance to workers during the periods of strikes and lock-outs, extension of medical facilities during slackness and casualties, provision of education, recreation, recreational and housing facilities, provision of social and religious benefits etc.

3. Political Functions

Many trade unions seek to improve the political status of the union, the union leader and the members.