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Trade Union

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Trade union is a voluntary organization of workers pertaining to a particular trade, industry or a company and formed to promote and protect their interests and welfare by collective action. Trade Union in India is the primary instrument for promoting the union of trade union movement and championing the cause of working class in India. The Madras Labor Union was the first organized Trade Union in India followed by a large number of trade unions in the Indian industrial centers. The first organized trade union was formed in 1918 in Madras and was named the Madras Labour Union. Since then they have spread in almost all the industrial centers of the country. The All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) is the oldest existing Trade Union in India and till 1945 it remained the central trade union organization in India. As per latest data available in Labour Bureau’s report Trade Unions in India, in 2006 the total number of registered trade unions in the country was 88440.

The Trade Union Act passed in 1926 gives legal status to the registered trade unions. The Trade Union Act 1926, defines a trade union as 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, or for imposing restrictive conditions on the conduct of any trade and business and includes any federation of two or more trade unions. The Act deals with the registration of trade unions, their rights, their liabilities and responsibilities, funds utilization and seeks to protect them from civil or criminal prosecution to enable them to carry on their legitimate activities for the benefit of the working class. The Act is administered by the Ministry of Labour through its Industrial Relations Division.


  1. Labour Bureau, M/O labour and employment, 2010, Trade Unions in India, 2006 on 2.

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