Trade Unions Essay Research Paper WHAT DO — страница 2

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negotiations with employers were the principal means by which unions sought to advance the living standards of their members. But the weaknesses of the unions and the fragility of collective bargaining were brutally exposed by the strikes of the 1890s. ( Ford & Plowman 1983, pg.77) Unions clearly recognize that industrial power alone is insufficient to force employers to bargain collectively, particularly in times of economic difficulty. This is why, if one looks at union membership figures, they can clearly see that the points where membership is most high is when the economy is suffering. Another key role that unions perform is that of arbitration. Arbitration is closely linked with conciliation or collective bargaining. The history of arbitration can be seen to be hand in

hand with collective bargaining. When arbitration was formed the principal objective was to prevent strikes and lockouts. ( Ford & Plowman 1983, pg.79). In the Arbitration Act of 1904, the Court could exercise its function first as a conciliator, then as an arbitrator. In the even of arbitration, an award would be made which was legally binding and enforceable in the courts. Penalties could be exacted for non-compliance. Since 1904, there have been many changes to the system. The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act has been the subject of many amendments, some of which have brought significant alterations to the general structure of the system ( Ford & Plowman 1983, pg.79.) The development of arbitration has proven to be very important when considering

industrial relations. Compulsory collective bargaining and arbitration meant that unions no longer needed to waste their resources on long drawn out strikes, as was the case before 1904. This led to unions becoming more necessary as their power increased. Nowadays, collective bargaining and arbitration is still one of the most important aspects of union. The last function that trade unions do is that of legal or political action. Unions represent their employees politically and legally. When one thinks of political actions, the most common thought would be of strikes. Strike, nowadays, are seen as a last resort when conciliation and then arbitration have failed. The most common and notable occurrence of a strike is that of the Waterfront Dispute of 1996. In this case, the workers

unions, as a last resort, decided to strike because they felt that they were unfairly dismissed. This is one of the political actions that unions do, in order for them to reach a likable result for their members. There are other forms of political actions that unions also do. These include pressuring the government by means of letters, campaigns or rallies. Governments also rely on unions. In times of elections, it is obvious that if a political party can get on the good side of a union they will get their votes and therefore increase the chance of getting elected. A union will see this and use this in the union s favor by pressuring the party to make favorable policies that benefit the workers of the union. After explaining what the unions actually do, the next part of the essay

will provide reasons as to why the workers actually join the unions. Workers join unions because unions provide economic benefits, security, company and respect of others, understanding of issues that effect the employees and ideological reasons. These functions provided by unions seem to be fairly uniform throughout the industries and it must be said, are not the only functions provided by unions. This essay will now give a more detailed outline of these benefits that the employees get from joining a trade union. The first benefit that will be explained is that of economic benefits. It has been previously highlighted that one of the main roles that a union provides is that of selective benefits. Getting these benefits is a main reason why the employees join their union. The

second benefit is that of security. Today, finding a job is becoming increasingly difficult and an employee likes to feel that the job the employee has is secure. If the employee joins a union, the union will be able to provide the employee with this security. The union achieves this security by having the power to talk to the employer and being able to provide assistance (legal or financial). Company and respect of others is another important aspect. A union can be seen as a collective group, and in any collective group of workers, there will always be people with interests that are alike. This means that unions will provide company and in turn this will provide employees with respect for the fellow co-workers. The fourth reason that employees join unions is because unions are