Trade Union

A trade union is an organized group of workers who collectively use their strength to have a voice in their workplace. They aim to improve the economic position of workers, secure better working conditions, and gain fair treatment from employers. Trade unions, also known as labor unions in some countries, are organizations that represent the collective interests of workers. They negotiate wages, work conditions, and benefits with employers, and may also engage in political activism to advocate for policies that benefit their members.


The history of trade unions varies by country but generally dates back to the Industrial Revolution when mass employment in factories began. Over the years, the role and scope of trade unions have evolved to include various types of workers and industries.


  • Collective Bargaining: The primary function is to negotiate with employers on matters like salary, work hours, and other benefits.
  • Legal Representation: They provide legal support to members in cases related to employment.
  • Political Advocacy: Some unions engage in lobbying and campaigning activities to influence public policy.
  • Member Services: Many offer other benefits like educational courses, healthcare, and financial advice.

Types of Trade Unions

  • Craft Union: Represents workers with a specific skill set or craft.
  • Industrial Union: Represents workers from a particular industry.
  • General Union: Represents workers from various industries.
  • Public Sector Union: Represents employees of governmental agencies.

Role in Industrial Relations

Trade unions play a significant role in balancing the power between employers and employees, maintaining industrial harmony, and contributing to the social welfare of workers.

Criticism and Controversy

  • Bureaucratization: Critics argue that unions can become too bureaucratic, losing sight of members' interests.
  • Restrictive Practices: In some cases, they have been criticized for enforcing rules that limit productivity.
  • Political Affiliation: The political activities of some unions have been a subject of controversy.

Trade Unions by Country

  • United States: AFL-CIO, Teamsters
  • United Kingdom: TUC, Unite the Union
  • Germany: DGB, IG Metall
  • India: Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC)

See Also