Role of Trade Unions



Adopting the model of Prof. Clark Kerr unions assume the following roles:

a. Sectional Bargainer: Interests of the workers at plant, industry, national level multiplicity of unions, Crafts Unions, white Collar Union etc.

b. Class Bargainer: Unions representing the interest of the class as whole as in France Agricultural Unions, Federations of unions, Civil Servants Union.

c. Agents of State: As in U.S.S.R., ensuring targets of production at fixed price. In 1974 Railway strike, INTUC stood behind Government and its agent.


Feb, 22,2012: Tyre manufacturer Dunlop India  Ltd in Coimbatore (Tamilnadu), has suspended work at its Ambattur, Chennai, factory with immediate effect due to labour unrest.

In its notice of suspension of work at Ambattur issued on Tuesday, the company said that as per the Long-Term Settlement arrived at on July 30, 2009, between the management and the Dunlop Factory Employees’ Union, the workers had agreed to bring down the production cost to the minimum level possible, promote productivity and all-round discipline and maximise capacity utilisation.
The agreement paved the way for the opening of the factory in October 2009.

The Dunlop management claimed that despite its best possible efforts to revive the unit and though it incurred heavy losses, the union did not co-operate and "manipulated the attendance/payroll, which turned out to be detrimental to the revival/survival of the company".

Explaining in detail the atmosphere prevailing at the plant since February 10,2012 when workmen "practically resorted to illegal strike" culminating in the management’s decision to suspend work at the plant with immediate effect, the DIL management said that most of the management staff, fearing for their safety, have "refused to report" for duty and under the circumstances, it was left with "no other alternative but to suspend the operations of the factory with immediate effect".

The company said during the period of suspension of work, the "principle of no work no pay shall be followed".


d. Partners in Social Control: Co-determinator in Germany. Also, some examples are found in Holland, France, Italy and Sweden; some half-hearted attempts are being made in India also.

e. Unions role which can be termed as enemies of economic systems, driven by political ideologies than business compulsions. Leftist unions want to change the fundamental structure of economy and want to have control over it. Therefore, they encourage high wages, high bonus etc. without any consideration for the health of the economy.

f. Business Oriented Role: Here unions consider the interests of the organisation along with workers. They think that their members fate is inextricably linked with that of organisation and they swim or sink together.

g. Unions as Change Agent: Lead the changes than to be led by them and thus, performing the pioneering role.


India, Maruthi Suzuki India, Ltd.  violence

18,July,2012: Maruthi Suzuki India Ltd., general manager human resource was burnt to death at manufacturing plant located at Maneser (Haryana) by the workers in a dispute between workers and management due to the disciplinary action taken against worker by the management. Workers union alleges that this incident was caused due to the supervisor made objectionable remark against a permanent worker, who belongs to the Scheduled Caste category. When we opposed it, they misbehaved with us and suspended the worker that led to violence. Company had huge loss of property, damage and burned, police complaint was filed and the Indian penal code (IPC) against  the workers who indulged in violence, killing general manager, severely hurting almost 100 workers and 40 executives and managers. Companies top Management decided to dismiss the workers who ever involved in these activities and declare that there is no further reinstatement of dismissed employees.

After the police enquiry they found work as union were involved and behind the violence of hurting workers, killing general human resource manager and damaging property of company. Haryana police on 2nd August 2012 arrested 10 office bearers of Maruti Suzuki Workers' union, including its president Ram Meher and general secretary Sarabjit Singh, in relation with the violence at the company's Manesar plant on July 18 2012.