WHAT DO UNIONS DO? WHY DO EMPLOYEES JOIN UNIONS? "Union n.1. The condition of being united, the act of uniting, or a conjunction formed by such an act. 2. An association, alliance, or confederation of individuals or groups for a common purpose, esp. political." Wilkes 1998: pg. 1677 When talking of the subject of Industrial Relations, the type of union that is most prevalent is that of a trade union. This main focus of this essay will be to define what a trade union is, outline its main functions and define why employees join trade unions.
Conflict is an important word when one thinks of Industrial Relations. It can be argued that conflict is everywhere and inevitable in today's society. When one looks at workplace conflict, it can be broken down. On one side there is the employers, and on the other side, the employees. But taking a closer look reveals that there is more than meets the eyes.
In today's workplace, conflict consists of employer's associations, employers, government, employees and unions. This essay will focus on the employees' side of conflict and more notably, the trade unions that the employees join. The essay will explain what the trade unions do, the benefits the employees' get out of trade unions and what the future will hold for unions.
"Trade unions are associations of workers established to improve their economic and social conditions." (Funk and Wagnall's 1998: vol. 25 pg.429). This definition, while very basic, is in essence the main function of a trade union. When looking at the history of trade unions, "it can be seen to have originated from the economic struggles between workers and employers in the nineteenth century." (Keeney & Kelley 1995: pg. 220). This means that employees for quite along time have used the...