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Letters: Redefine the union's role

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Apropos the report “Violence at Maruti Unit” (July 19), here is a global perspective on the legal concept of trade union objectives. Trade unions are legal representatives of workers. Section 2(h) of the Indian Trade Unions Act, 1926 defines them as “combinations” for regulating relations between workers and employers or for imposing restrictive conditions on trade or business. Let’s take a look at how some other democracies view them. Section 1 of UK’s Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 defines trade unions as “organisations” whose principal purpose includes regulation of relations between workers and employers. Japan’s Trade Union Law (no. 174/1949) defines trade unions as “organisations” for the purpose of maintaining and improving working conditions, and raising the economic status of workers. In Singapore, the 1982 amendment to its Trade Unions Act defines their role as promoting good industrial relations, improving working conditions and improving productivity for the mutual benefit of workers, employers and the country.

Law defines the minimum standard of human behaviour. In an age of global competition, the law in India should, perhaps, look at trade unions as organisations promoting the economic status of workers and productivity instead of labelling them “combinations” for imposing restrictive conditions on trade or business.

Surendra Nath, Noida

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