White-Collar and Managerial Trade Unions




There was a time when unions and strikes were known only to Blue-collar workers in factories, mines, railways docks, etc. White-collar employees and professional people like doctors, engineers, lawyers, professors and senior executives and managerial staff thought it below their dignity to band themselves in unions, march the high streets, and yell slogans. Today it is different. Trade unions exist among most professionals, whitecollar employees, officers, senior executives, and managers, and so do strikes and gheraos. Highly paid employees in banks, in the Life Insurance Corporation and in many other establishments are organised, and so the Central Government and semi-government employees. They take recourse to strikes, mass casual leaves, work to rule, dharnas, and gheraos for securing their demand and thus creating some embarrassing problems for their employers/managements requiring serious consideration.

Both blue and white-collar workers are employees, but are of different status, and holding different positions at different levels. The differences between these two categories of unions are as summarised in the Table below.

s. No.

Blue-Collar Worker

White Collar Worker

1

All shop-floor workers (Pari of production system who operate machines and related systems) are termed as blue-collar workers, as their work is not generally clean.

All clerical or office staff who do not work on the shop floor, are termed as white-collar workers as their work and working places are clean. They are generally involved in a desk job or providing service over the counter.

2

They are manual workers with lower literacy and education, and have their own social and economic background.

They are non-manual workers forming a distinct social ground characterised by divergent socio-economic backgrounds, level of education, manner of speech, social custom and ideology. They are better educated and have jobs requiring mental capabilities to a greater extent.

3

They may be paid by time, or by piece, or results, either on daily, or weekly, or fortnightly, or monthly basis. They are generally wage earners, and may have lesser holidays, and leave facilities and other privileges than white-collar workers.

They are time workers paid on monthly basis. They enjoy longer holidays and leave facilities and better privileges.

4

They are nor so inclined towards management. On the other hand, they may be caring for their unions than for the management.

They hold such jobs that they are regarded as part of the management, and so they are more inclined towards it than the blue-collar workers.

5

Excepting highly skilled categories who are in greater demand and can manage to have higher wages income, the blue-collar workers are not so well paid. Their fringe benefits and perquisites are lower than that of white-collar

Because of their professional and social standing they are generally better paid and have better terms and conditions of employment including better perquisites and fringe benefit

6

They have better union protection and job security by labour legislation, such as Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.

They have no union protection if they are not unionised, and also job security if they are not covered by the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 as may be the case with not a few of them.

7

They are mostly engaged in production processes.

They are concentrated in the fields of commerce, transport, storage and communication. They are engaged in different occupations that fall under the category of professional, administrative, executive and managerial workers, clerical and related workers, sales staff, technical, and supervisory and other workers, engaged in transport and Communication services, or in sports and recreational facilities, artists and musicians.

8

They have no authority, and nor they associated with decision taking.

They are linked with their employers by being associated with that part of the productive process where authority is exercised and decisions are taken.