Trade Unions Act, 1926
The object of Trade Unions Act, 1926 is to provide for registration of Trade unions and to define law relating to registered trade unions in certain aspects.
Trade Union - Trade Union means 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 or business. It includes federation of two or more trade unions. [section 2(h)].
Thus, technically, there can be 'union' of employers also, though, almost universally, the term 'trade union' is associated with union of workmen or employees.
'Trade dispute' means any dispute between workmen and employers or between workmen and workmen, or between employers and employers. However, it should be connected with employment or non-employment, or the conditions of labour, of any person. 'Workman' means all persons employed in trade or industry, whether or not in the employment of the employer with whom the trade dispute arises. [section 2(g)].
Any seven or more members of a Trade Union can apply for registration, by subscribing their names to rules of trade Union and complying with provisions of the Act for registration of Trade Union. [section 4(1)]. Right and liabilities of a Registered Trade Union are specified in section 15.
Registration of trade union - Appropriate Government shall appoint a person as Registrar of Trade Unions for each State. [section 3(1)]. Application for registration is required to be made signed by at least 7 members. Application should be accompanied by rules of trade union. and other required details. [section 5]. Rules should contain provisions as prescribed in section 6. Registrar shall register Trade Union and enter particulars in the register maintained by him. [section 8]. Trade Union will have a registered office. [section 12].
Other provisions - Other important provisions are as follows -
TRADE UNION IS A BODY CORPORATE - Registered Trade Union shall be a body corporate by the name under which it is registered. It will have perpetual succession and a common seal. It can acquire both movable and immovable property in its own name and contract in its own name. [section 13].
FUND FOR POLITICAL PURPOSES - Trade Union can constitute separate fund for political purposes. [section 16].
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE AND OFFICE BEARERS OF UNION - The management of trade union will be conduced by 'executive'. It is a body by whatever name called. [section 2(a)]. Thus, controlling body of Trade Union may be called as 'Executive Body' or 'Governing Body' or 'Managing Committee' or any such name. The members of the executive body are termed as 'Officer Bearers'. [section 2(b)]. At least 50% of office bearers of registered trade union shall be persons actually engaged or employed in an industry wit which the trade union is connected. [section 22].
ANNUAL RETURNS - Every registered trade union will prepare a general statement of assets and liabilities of trade Union as on 31st December. The statement will be sent to Registrar along with information about change of office bearers during the year. [section 28(1)].
IMMUNITY FROM PROVISION OF CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY IN TRADE DISPUTES - Office bearer of a trade union shall not be liable to punishment u/s 120B(2) of Indian Penal Code in respect of agreement made between members for purpose of object of trade union, unless the agreement is agreement to commit an offence. [section 17]. - - Thus, office bearer of trade union cannot be prosecuted for criminal conspiracy in respect of agreement relating to object of trade union.
IMMUNITY FROM CIVIL SUIT - A civil suit or other legal proceeding is not maintainable against any registered trade union or office bearer in furtherance of trade union activity on the ground that (a) such act induces some person to break a contract of employment or (b) It is in interference with the trade, business or employment of some other person. [section 18(1)].
REGISTRATION DOES NOT MEAN RECOGNITION - Registration and recognition of Union by an employer are independent issues. Registration of Trade Union with Registrar has nothing to do with its recognition in a particular factory/company. Recognition of Trade Union is generally a matter of agreement between employer and trade union. In States like Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, there are specific legal provisions for recognition of a trade union.