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Trade Union Registration

What is Trade Union:

A trade union is an organisation of workers who come together to fight for better working conditions.

In India, the right to form a trade union is guaranteed under the Constitution and the functioning of trade unions are regulated by the Trade Union Act of 1926, which defines a union to be:

Any combination, whether temporary or permanent, formed primarily for the purpose of regulating the relations between workmen and employers or between workmen and workmen, or between employers and employers.

A trade union can therefore be formed if workers of a particular industry, factory or locality or places or category of workers decide to come together in order to fight for their rights at the workplace and outside.

Interest of workers:

The trade union is meant to be a democratic body where members discuss and vote collectively on any issue. Office bearers of the union are also democratically elected by the union membership. If you find that you are not being consulted on issues, or if the office bearers do not represent your/your co-workers’ interests in a genuine way, it is possible that the union has been co-opted in order to undermine workers and to maintain the status quo. Be open, be vigilant, and ask questions.

Advantages of registering a Trade Union:
  1. A group or collection of labours or workers come together to form a union under the Trade Union Act, they are recognized by the government and are considered a legal entity Under Section 13 of the Trade Union Act
  2. A registered trade union can sign bilateral (between management and union) or tripartite (between management, union and labour department) collective bargaining agreements.s
  3. The registered union can also take legal recourse through the judiciary.
  4. Further, several tripartite committees which make important decisions like minimum wages have only registered unions as members, although they are not legally required to do so./li>
  5. In Tamil Nadu, members of unorganized sector registered unions (such as domestic workers, driving workers and construction workers etc.) can be certified as workers by their union and enrolled in the Labour Welfare Board, from which they can avail certain social security benefits.
  6. A registered trade union can also designate some of the members as protected workmen. The management will not be able to dismiss these workers without prior permission from the Labour Department.
  7. It can represent to the employer on behalf of the trade union members through its office bearers.
Types of unions you can be formed:

Your trade union could be factory based, industry based or even locality based. Sometimes a particular category of workers may also come together to form their own separate union. It is important to remember that unorganised sector workers like domestic workers, construction workers, daily wage labourers and contract workers can also form unions to address work related issues, lobby for better working conditions and advocate for their rights. These could be based in specific geographical areas – locality, district, city or state wide

Authority of Registration:

The Trade Union Act of 1926 lays down the various rules which need to be followed regarding formation and registration of a union. This law also prescribes the primary authority to be the Registrar of Unions, who is usually a person in the Labour Department at the level of the Deputy Commissioner of Labour (DCL).

There are Nine Regional Deputy Commissioners of Labour in Tamilnadu, based at Chennai-1, Chennai-2, Trichy, Madurai, Tirunelveli, Coimbatore, Salem, Dindigul and Coonoor.

Procedure of Forming a Trade Union:
  • In order to register the union, one must follow the procedure laid down by the law. Any 7 workers can come together to register a trade union by submitting the application in Form A and signing their names subscribing to the rules. The Form includes Schedule I (Names and addresses of office bearers) , Schedule II (References to rules) and Schedule III ( Statement of assets and liabilities if the union has been functioning for more than one year prior to the application for registration)
  • This application will include: name of the union; address of the registered office; names, addresses, ages and occupations of the office bearers and founding members; and rules of the union.
  • The application has to be made to the Registrar of Trade Unions (specifically the one whose jurisdiction includes the location of the registered office or factory) in person.
  • Once the registrar receives the application, he/she forwards it to the Assistant Commissioner of Labour who will summon the 7 members who initially signed the application for verification. During this time, all documents in original must be brought. Documents include
  • Copy of a resolution passed by the General Body regarding the formation of the union
  • List of office bearers with names and addresses
  • bye laws,
  • completed membership forms, membership fee receipts, membership register, register of membership dues paid of at least 100 members or 10% of workforce whichever is lesser.
  • ledger of income and expenditure, vouchers, bank account details
    1. The registrar must complete this process within 90 days, according to new govt. order.
    2. To renew registration, annual returns to be submitted by December every year.
Eligibility Criteria to become a member of union:

Any worker who is 15 years or above can become a member of the union sec. 21 of the Act. However, an office bearer must be 18 years or above under sec.21A.

According to Section 22 of the Act  permits that less than half of the office bearers can be ‘outsiders,’ meaning they are not workers.

  • Unorganised sector – at least 50% of the office bearers must be workers
  • Organised sector – Only 1/3rdor maximum of 5 of office bearers can be non-workers.
  • Workers must ensure that these are individuals whose ideals and functioning will be in tune with objectives of the union and who will wholeheartedly represent the interest of the workers.

The bye-laws, or rules of the union, must explicitly permit that ‘outsiders’ be allowed as office bearers, and these outsiders ought to also be union members and pay dues. Proof of their membership should be maintained.

Contract workers:

The Act does not discriminate against any section of workers from being able to form a trade union. Contract workers, apprentices and trainees can be a part of the same union as permanent workers. While the management may try to create divisions, the union is stronger if workers across all categories are organized together.  In fact, without reaching out to contract workers and including them in union activities, it can be extremely difficult for a union to stop production, as the management can potentially replace unionized workers with contract staff.  Nevertheless, some unions consider it challenging to organize contract workers.

Challenges of Contract Workers:

Two common challenges that unions face in organizing contract workers include proving their employment in the workplace and countering victimization and dismissal by the management.  For example the management may deny that the worker is employed in the factory, so the union must pre-emptively gather records, such as photographs, muster rolls, access IDs, and registers maintained under the Contract Labour Act or the Migrant Worker Act.  Although it is widely believed that contract workers can be more easily fired from their jobs, there are in fact protections under the Industrial Disputes Act, provided proof of employment can be given.

Clauses in the Bye-laws:

The ‘bye – laws’ are the rules that govern the functioning of the union, and are usually a modified form of the standard ‘draft bye – laws’ that are included with the Trade Union Act.

These rules are very important and usually mistakes or omissions are used as a reason for delaying or denying registration. The following points must be specified under the bye – laws (Section 6):

  1. The name of the union,
  2. A statement containing the objective for which the union has been formed,
  3. How the membership fees will be collected,
  4. How the general fund of the union be used (these must be in line with Section 15 of the TU Act)
  5. Under what terms and conditions a member can be paid from the fund,
  6. The list of members,
  7. Eligibility of ordinary members (workers employed in the work that the union represents) and how the honorary or temporary members (non- workers) will be admitted as office bearers, and
  8. The procedure through which the rules can be changed or the trade union can be dissolved.

Difference between recognizing and registering a union:

A registered union does not automatically become recognized by the management. This means that although the government has provided the union with the certificate of registration and considers it as a legitimate body, the management refuses to negotiate with the union on some grounds.

A recognized union is one with which the management participates in collective bargaining, and signs agreements related to wages and working conditions.

We have experts and experience in the field of framing bye-laws and memorandum for registering a trade union of the respective labour and workers to fulfill their interests in all aspects. For any assistance required for registering a trade union, you may contact to our Registration Boss…

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