Trade unions act as 'social organizations' that express workers' views, and represent and defend their employment, social and economic interests and rights. The Law on Trade Unions, other relevant legislation, governs their activities and the unions' owns the articles of incorporation. Unions follow the principles and norms set out in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international treaties and documents. The Law on Trade Unions states that, in their activities, unions are to be independent of state governing and administrative institutions or other organizations.
Any action, whose direct or indirect aim is the subordination of trade unions to state or other institutions and organizations, or the hindering of union activities set out in the law and their articles of incorporation, is prohibited. Trade unions are to represent the interests of employees by concluding general and collective agreements. Trade unions have the right to propose legislation through their national institutions. They have the right to call strikes, under the conditions set out in the Law on Strikes.
Unions have equal rights with each other. The Law on Trade Unions regulates the following issues such as relations between unions and state and municipal governing and administrative institutions, and with employers; the protection of unions and their members; the role of unions in examining employment, social and economic issues and disputes; and the property, business and financial activities of unions. The rights of unions to defend their members are additionally specially regulated by the Employment
Disputes Law. Further, the Employment Law stipulates that an employer may not terminate an employment contract with an employee who is a union member without the agreement of the union concerned. Rights and Duties of Trade Union members A union can be formed at a workplace if this is supported by at least three other people. A decision on organizing a union at a workplace is adopted by a meeting of workers, and this is then registered with the relevant sectoral union.
The rights of union members are to:Payment of membership fees set out in the articles of incorporation and performing the duties described in the collective agreements or other contracts concluded by the union. Role of Trade Unions Trade unions are introduced with the objective of improving workers' welfare through better working conditions and also protecting workers' rights in employment relations. Trade unions have also taken strides in safeguarding the interests of children being victims of child labour.
Trade unions have traditionally been among the pioneers in the movement to prevent and eliminate child labour. In industries and enterprises where trade unions are present at the workplace, they can put pressure on management for the elimination of child labour, by ensuring that they are not subjected to hazardous or inhuman conditions of work. The worst forms of child labour are less likely to be found in the organized sector, where trade unions have most influence, and less in unionized than in union-free plants. For e. g.
: – in Bangladesh, the Bangladesh Building and Woodworkers' Federation provided 300 working children with access to government-sponsored schools and a food-for-education programme. Another good example to be noted is the Rural Workers' Union of Petrolina in Brazil, which organized a help for child agricultural labourers who were working long hours and handling hazardous agrochemicals. These children were removed from work, given complementary education and, together with their parents, were introduced to horticultural skills.
When trade unions remain steadfast in their commitment to democratic and accountable governance, they represent a key institution to sustaining democratic gains. The large membership and geographic reach of trade unions often can help deepen and broaden support for democratic principles and practices within a country. In countries in which there is a free and active trade union movement the movement towards more democratic, more transparent and more representative governance is more rapid and evident.
Apart from securing working rights in the work arena, Trade Unions having the power to negotiate higher wages, can also bring in a negative aspect of increasing unemployment. They might bring negative effects to the labour market by protecting some internal workers at the expense of others. . If trade unions have enough power to provide higher wages to their members and restrict labour turnover, then the unemployed have less opportunities to enter the labour market and the market does not clear.
At the same time, unions can improve the functioning of the labour market by mediating information between employers and employees. Decline in trade Unions The ability of trade unions to secure better pay for their members, compared with non-union members, appears to be in long-term decline. Although underlying pay levels in some circumstances remain significantly higher, evidence from the late 1990s suggests no discernible difference between union and non-union pay increases Employment in unionised workplaces in the private sector declined at an average rate of 1.
8 per cent a year in the 1990s, compared with employment growth of 1. 4 per cent in the non-union workplaces. An important exception was plants where unions were able to negotiate on employment as well as pay – these enjoyed similar growth to non-union plants. This is evident from the figures that in 1979 13. 3 million people were members of trade unions and the proportion of employees who were union members stood at 55%. This decline in 1995, where the union membership in Britain, estimated from the Labour Force Survey, was 7. 3 million. The proportion of all employees who were union members was 32%
A major influence in the decline was the severe post-war depression of 1921-1922. Unemployment rose steeply, and so desperate was competition for the available jobs that the unions in many industries were unable to prevent wage reductions and speedup methods. The cataclysmic economic depression of the 1930s led to a tremendous rise in unemployment and to a corresponding further decline in union membership. The unions, attempting to offset the adverse effects of the depression on wages and working conditions, launched numerous strikes, but few were successful .