The findings in this paper are based on a survey conducted on trade union activists in the western part of India. The survey tries to understand the perception of trade union activists about the situation of trade unions and their future. The findings support the fact that the trade unions are passing through a difficult period. The membership of trade unions is decreasing while the existing members are loosing confidence in their utility. The slow implementation of labor laws and delay in disposal of cases is also discouraging the trade union activists.
Industrial relations in India has been a product of many factors. Several entities namely the Central Government, the respective state governments, the executive machinery, various levels of judiciary and the trade unions have affected the present state of industrial relations India. All these entities work under various labor laws (industrial legislations) enacted by the Central Government and executed by the respective state governments. Out of the several legislations [mainly three acts, namely, the Trade Unions Act, 1926, the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946 and the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947] have major influence on the industrial relations (Gupta & Seth, 2000). In any nation, trade unions form a major component of industrial relations (Ghosh et. al 2009). Several scholars (Ghosh & Geetika, 2007) believe that factors like establishment of minimum wages, norms for mandatory work hours, provisions for health and safety, and overall improvements in working conditions, unionization have helped to improve the conditions of workers. Although it is believed that the importance of trade unions has decreased in current times but some recent activities in both manufacturing and service organizations has endorsed their momentum (Bist, 2010). In India Trade Unions Act, 1926 empowers workmen to form trade unions and represent the workmen related issues to the management and other related authorities.
This paper is the result of a survey conducted on trade union activities in the western part of India. It tries to understand the perception of trade union activities about the situation of trade unions and their future. Further it focuses on issues like the change in membership of trade unions, difficulties of leadership at all levels and the effect of government policies on the situation of trade unions. The findings reveal that trade unions are passing through a difficult situation. The overall membership of trade unions is decreasing and the existing members are loosing confidence in the utility of trade unions. The slow implementation of labor laws and delay in disposal of cases is also discouraging the trade union activists. All the parties like trade unions, government and other executive bodies will have to unite and work considerably to overcome the situation.
The majority of the data was collected from the participants (trade union activists) who attended the skill development programs in a reputed institute in Ahmedabad city located in the western part of India. Some of the questionnaires were sent to the known trade union office bearers. It was ensured that all the respondents were directly related or engaged in the trade union activities of their own organizations. This gave us the confidence that the responses were genuine.
The questionnaire was first prepared in English and then was translated in to 'Gujarati' (1) language as it was anticipated that many of the respondents were not comfortable with English. Care was taken to translate the questionnaire exactly and there was no misinterpretation or confusion of terms. The help of a professional translator was taken for the purpose. For majority of the respondents who were participants in the skill development programs, a briefing session was organized before the questionnaire was distributed and the purpose of the survey was explained. This helped to remove apprehensions/confusions of many respondents. After the briefing, the participants were asked about their willingness to participate in the survey. Only those participants who showed readiness were given the questionnaire. The participants were asked to take the questionnaire to their rooms or homes...