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Narrate the growth of trade unions in India.

Narrate the growth of trade unions in India.


1 Answer

A major trend witnessed these days is due to the change in the attitude of unions towards management, industry, government and the economy. Unions are becoming increasingly matured, responsive and realistic in their thinking and action. Gone are the days of catcall strikes, bandhs, gheraoes and violence. Depoliticiation of unions is another trend witnessed these days. The trend towards depoliticization started in the 1960’s and received further boost in the post liberalization era. The experience of politically free unions is pleasant, reinforcing the belief that further the unions are from politics, more advantages it is for
them. Workers associations in our country are highly fragmented and the consequence has been the multiplicity of unions.

Multiplicity is caused by ideological rifts, personal ambitions of leaders, craft divisions among workers and the management’s own myopia. The multiplicity of unions weakens the bargaining strength of employees. One of the defects of the trade union movement in our country has been the phenomenon of outside leadership. Individuals who were not connected with a factory would assume the leadership mantle of the union. The clout of the central trade unions, which peaked during the post nationalization years, has started waning. One of the reasons for this trend is the gradual realization on the part of the workers, who are young and well educated, that independence unions are more advantageous than all India Federations.


Faced with the problem of declining membership and the fear of losing their relevance, trade unions are taking initiatives to fight united. Many unions, including those affiliated to Left parties, have joined together to fight for such causes as disinvestment, closure and modernization. Professionalization of trade union movement is yet another trend witnessed these days.

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March 29, 2019