The Trade Unions Act, 1926
The Trade Unions Act, 1926, aims to provide for the registration of trade unions in India, and defines the law related to registered unions.
The term ‘trade union’ here refers to any association – temporary or permanent – formed primarily for regulating the relations between ‘workmen’ and employers, ‘workmen and workmen’, or between employers and employers; or for ‘imposing restrictive conditions’ on the conduct of a trade or business. It includes any federation of two or more trade unions.
The Act extends to the whole of India.
Who can be a member of a trade union?
Any person who is 15 years of age or older may become a member of a registered trade union, unless the rules of the union specify to the contrary.
How can a trade union apply for registration under this Act?
The Act say that the appropriate government (central or state) shall appoint a Registrar for trade unions in each state.
Seven or more members of a trade union may apply to register their union under this Act. The application must be made to the Registrar. It shall include a copy of the trade union’s rules and a statement with the following details: the names, occupations and addresses of members making the application; the trade union’s name and the address of its head office; and the titles, names, ages, addresses and occupations of the office-bearers of the trade union. The application shall also include a general statement of the union’s assets and liabilities, if it has existed for more than a year.
What does the Act say about the office-bearers of a trade union?
It says that at least half of the office-bearers shall be persons engaged or employed in the industry that the union is linked to.
Members of the trade union shall be disqualified as office-bearers if they are less than 18 years of age, or have been convicted in any court in India for ‘moral turpitude’ and sentenced to imprisonment – unless a period of five years has lapsed since their release.
What should the rules of the trade union cover?
The rules of a trade union shall mention its name; objectives; details of subscription payments by members; conditions under which members may be entitled to benefits; the manner of amending the union’s rules, dissolving it and appointing and removing its office-bearers; and the purposes for which the union’s general funds may be applicable. It shall contain provisions for maintaining a list of the union’s members.
What is the purpose of a trade union’s ‘general fund’ and ‘separate fund’ under this Act?
The general funds of a union shall be spent on the payment of salaries and other expenses to the union’s office-bearers; administrative and audit expenses; any legal proceeding in which the trade union is involved; the compensation of members in cases of ‘trade disputes’; allowances to members or their dependents for death, old age, sickness, accidents or unemployment; educational, social or religious benefits for members; and the ‘upkeep’ of a periodical.
A ‘trade dispute’ refers to any dispute between employers and ‘workmen’, ‘workmen and workmen’, or employers and employers, which is connected with any person’s employment, non-employment, terms of employment or conditions of labour.
The trade union may set up a ‘separate fund’ to promote the civic and political interests of its members. The fund may be spent for, among other expenses, supporting candidates for election in any legislative body or local authority, holding political meetings, and distributing political literature and documents. No member shall be compelled to contribute to this fund.
How can two or more trade unions be amalgamated under this Act?
The Act states that two or more trade unions may merge as one. This requires at least 50 per cent of the members of each union to record their votes. Of these, 60 per cent must be in favour of the proposal. A written notice signed by the secretary and at least seven members of each union party to the merger shall be submitted the Registrar within 14 days of the merger.
The change of name or amalgamation of trade unions shall not affect any rights and obligations of the union or render any legal proceeding by or against it as ‘defective’.
What does the Act say about a trade union’s right to appeal?
If any trade union is aggrieved by the Registrar’s refusal to register it, or by the Registrar’s withdrawal of their registration, it may appeal against them in a court or tribunal, as specified by the Act.
Focus and Factoids by Bharti Patel.
Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India
Government of India, New Delhi
25 Mar, 1926