1. Primitive Stage: Families are self-sufficient of goods; Division of Labor was restricted only to the family level. All the activities of the family were carried on to produce or procure products for family consumption and so no exchange of goods was required. Later on barter economy was born and a direct exchange of one commodity for another.
  1. Agragarian Economy Stage: As the name suggests this stage was dominated by agriculture. The tribes were self-sufficient as they produced everything they required. The division of labor confined to the division of work between men and women of the tribe.Hired labor, concept of sales and profit, trading concept emerged. Emergence of traders led to specialization in different fields by different families.
  1. Handicrafts Stage: This stage included artisans living in villages produced the products for the local population and in exchange got various things from customers. The craftsman didn’t use machinery but simple hand tools and manual skills for producing the goods. There was no division of labor and thus craftsman was responsible for assembling various raw materials and selling the goods.
  1. Guild Stage: (Began to decline in 15th country).Two types of guild were initiated namely


(a) Merchant Guild

    1. Is an association of merchants engaged in trade in a particular locality
    2. There was equal opportunity for all the members by regulating the conduct of its members by prohibiting unfair practices and by avoiding competition among their members.

(b)Craft Guild

      1. Association of skilled artisans in same occupation and therefore multiple guilds in a town can be seen.
      2. The craft guild regulated entry to the craft prescribed standards of workmanship and regulated the conduct of the members.


  1. Putting Out System: This stage marks the importance of intermediary between the producers and consumers of goods. Initially the entrepreneur gave the work out to the artisans, who owned the means of production. The goods were collected by the entrepreneurs at regular intervals. Artisans faced problems with production when the production size increased and thus the entrepreneur started providing raw-materials and tools to the artisans who produced goods and received wages on piece wage basis. Thus this stage was called the putting out system. By beginning of 18th century, entrepreneurs used their own premises for production. Entrepreneur becomes the owner and the manager of the production system.


  1. Industrial Revolution: Industrial revolution was the result of the inventions of many English scientists during 1760 to 1820.With increase of demand due to various geographical discoveries of the late 15th and 16th centuries led the inventors in England to set the task of finding ways and means to remove the hindrance in production faced by the producers and manufacturers.


James Hargreaves made ‘spinning genny‘ in 1764 and Richard Arkwright introduced ‘Water-frame’ in 1779.

Many mechanical inventions came in quick succession such as ‘mule spinner’ by Crompton and ‘Power-loom’ by Catwright.



Early period of Industrialization the problems faced by workers in terms of lower wages and poor working conditions led them to organize themselves into trade unions.

The basic philosophy underlying trade union was that through strength and calculates support the employers could be forced to listen to the workers and redress their grievances.

The weapons used included strikes, slowdown, walkouts, picketing, boycotts and sabotage with occasional physical forces being used.

Influences of Trade Union:

  1. On Personnel Management

Adoption of employee grievance handling systems, the acceptance of arbitration as means of resolving conflict of rights, disciplinary practices, the expansion of employee benefit programmes ,the liberalization of holiday and vacation time, job rights through seniority clear definition of job duties, installation of national and defensible wage structure.

  1. Employers in U.S.A

Appointed welfare secretaries and also launched schemes for workers participation.

Around 1910, personnel department was setup to look after functions like recruitment training, motion study, record keeping, welfare etc.

  1. Trade Unions in India

The reason for a delayed start of the labor movement is the difference in economic setup from those of the United Kingdom and the USA.

Industrial capitalism came in India only in the middle of the 19th Century.

  • Indigo plantations were started in 1831, cotton mill in Bombay in 1853.
  • Manufacturer of jute in Calcutta in 1855 and coal fields were connected by the rail to the port city of Calcutta.
  • 1877-First indication of Industrial unrest and earliest work stoppage came to the force in 1877 on the initiatives of weavers of empress Mills, Nagpur.
  • 1895-for the first time the workers struck work at the Budget Jute Mill as a result of which the mills suffered a loss of Rs. 18000
  • 1881-Passing of the factories Act awakened the working class towards a connected approach.
  • 1884-A memorandum was presented by about 5000 workers to the Bombay factory labor commission under Shri N.M. Lokhande.
  • 1897 – The Amalgamated society of Railway servants of India-Consisting of Anglo-Indians and domiciled Europeans employed on railways and acted more as a friendly society than a combination for securing concessions. It was registered under the companies Act.
  • 1907-Postal Union was formed in Bombay.
  • 1918 –Mr. B.P. Wadia, who setup the Textile workers union in Madras, let to need for legislation for protecting trade union activities.
  • 1918 –A strike was launched by the textile mill workers in Ahmadabad was taken over by Mahatma Gandhi who turned into a Satyagrah. Thus Textile labor association of Ahmadabad.
  • 1920-All India Trade union congress was born.
  • The trade Union act gave legal status to registered trade unions and conferred on them and their members a measure of immunity from civil suits and criminal prosecution. The act gave legal status to unions.
  • The failure of the Bombay textile strike of 1929 and the economic depression of that period brought a bull in trade union activity.
  • The government also intervened in many cased to resolve the disputes between the management and workers. This is how the industrial relations system consisting of 3 actors i.e. management, workers and government evolved.



Theories/Models of Industrial Conflict.

A broader framework of Industrial conflict is the complex of influences of social economic and political factors.

Means of conflict management or resolution must incorporate consideration of these dynamics.

  1. CLASSICAL APPROACH (Marxist Model)

Karl Marx considered industrial conflict as a part of the broader social conflict between classes.

Marx divided the society into two classes.

  1. Capitalists: Who owns means of production.
  2. Proletariat: Who own nothing but their own labor power.

The above two classes are “antagonistic group”.

Antagonism and conflict are of the very essence of Marx’s conception of class.

The reasons for this fundamental antagonism lie in the capitalist mode of production.

The main drawback of the capitalist mode of production is the exploitation inherent in the system of wage labor.

Wage labor implies that labor is commodity which is bought and sold like any other.

Labor is bought at the cheapest price possible and put to work on means of production owned by the capitalist.

The worker is paid a wage which is barely sufficient for his subsistence.

The gap is surplus by the capitalist employer is not lessened rater increases, for the actual distribution of additional increments of revenue is determined by the power situation i.e. no automatic distribution based on a sense of equity. Thus the exploitation of the worker by the capitalist increased.

Wage labor is alienated because of exploitation by the capitalists. Alienation of a worker arises from the fact that he does not own the tools with which he produces. Because of division of labor, whatever he produces is not his exclusive creation.

The production arises from appropriation of surplus; the labor is no longer a form of self-expression or an end itself but only a means to get a wage.

  1. Human-Relations or Neo-Classical Approach

The origin of this approach is in the Hawthorne experiments conducted by Elton Mayo, Roethlisberger, Whitehead Whyte and Homans etc.

“Conflict is an aberration and not the natural state of human society.”

Reason: The aberration occurs when tendency of the industrial society is to treat worker as an isolated individual and deprive him of all control over his environment.

This loss of mooring and control is a major source of conflict.

The key to achieve better human relations in the organization.

CRITICISM: The theory treats the factory as a self contained and isolated social system.

The sources of conflict lie as much outside the factory as within it. The theory that the management can’t handle everything through better human relations within the factory is not convincing.

Neo-Human relationists like Maslow, Herzberg and McGregor felt that workers look for satisfaction of their needs from their employment.

Motivators include both economic and non-economic rewards like appreciation of performance knowledge of results, competition etc.

  1. Pluralistic Approach

Is based on the premise that the enterprise contains people with a variety of interests, aims and aspiration; therefore it is a coalition of different interests.

Arthur Ross- View the organization as a “plural society” containing many related but separate interests and objectives which must be maintained in some kind of equilibrium.

Reason for Conflict: In case of conflict capitalist is no longer exploiter but list down and discuss the terms with those who protest.

Both labor and management restrain each other to exercise the exclusives of power. Rather together they construct and maintain rules and institutions for the regulation of conflict.

Conflict cannot be wished away in this system.

Arbitration mediation and adjudications emerges as the major regulators of conflict and strike becomes a weapon on last resort.

Pluralism does not imply the inevitability of compromise and consensus in all situations.

Fox argues “The aim of pluralism is to combine social stability with adaptability and freedom”-this involves the assumption that on most occasions, conflict will be resolved by collective bargaining-The major institutional apparatus of the pluralist.

  1. Social Action Approach

The social action model has its origins in Webrian sociology.

The actors own definitions of the situations in which they are engaged and these are taken as an initial basis for the explanation of their social behavior and relationships.

The Model points out the reciprocal nature of the relationship between social structure and behavior.

Social Structure limits social action.

Thus a worker’s ability to take strike action or an entrepreneur’s ability to invest may be limited by his personnel and by more general economic conditions and this will help to determine the environment for similar decisions in future.

Social action approach stresses the way in which man influences the social structure and makes society.

The social action approach suggests that general explanations if social actions are not possible simply because of the nature of the subject of social servicemen do not react to the stimuli in the same way as the matter in natural science.

The social action approach stresses the way in which man influences the social structure and makes society.

  1. System Approach

The systems approach regards behavior as a reflection of the characteristics of a social system containing a series of impersonal processes which are external to actors and constraints but not as completely dominating industrial relations.

An industrial relations system at any particular time is regarded as comprising of certain actors certain context and ideology which bind the industrial relations system together a body rules created to govern the actors at the place of work and work community.

The creation of rules is the central aim of the industrial relations system and Dunlop isolates three groups of actors.

  1. Workers
  2. Management
  3. Government

Who take part in the rule-making process.

Thus   R = F(a,i,b) ;

  • R = Industrial Relations System
  • a= actors
  • i= ideology
  • b=body of rules

The Industrial Relations System



As stated/can be seen the problem of Industrial Relations is multifaceted; the steps to solve conflicts will be

  1. Diagnose a situation in terms of the prevailing circumstance in the organization.
  2. To adopt a strategy of effecting changes at crucial points.

Conflicts in Industry cannot be completely wiped out it can only be contained with reasonable limits.



  1. Gandhian Trusteeship Approach

Gandhi Ji’s views on industrial relations are based on the his fundamental principles of truth and non-violence and non-possession.

Concept of trusteeship depends on the philosophy of industrial relations resets; philosophy presumes the peaceful co-existence of capital and labor, which calls for the resolution of conflict by non-violent, non-cooperation, which actually amounts to peaceful strikes in ordinary parlance.

Gandhiji accepted the workers’ right to strike, but cautioned that this right is to be exercised in a just cause and in a peaceful and non-violent manner; and it should be resorted to only after employers fail to respond to their moral appeals.

The principle of trusteeship propagates that the capitalist order can be transformed into an egalitarian one.

The capitalist is expected to hold industry in trust for the community and the workers should be treated as co-trustees with the capitalist employer.

The trusteeship theory implies that there is no room for conflict of interests between the capitalist and the workers. Though wealth legally belongs its owners, virtually it belongs to the society.

Before going to a non-violent, non-cooperation following two things are expected from workers as preconditions.

  1. Awakening
  2. Unity among them

“Awakening” means –workers should be aware that without their co-operation capitalists cannot work and when the workers resort to non-co-operation, their exploitation by capital would stop.

Guidelines to be followed for putting Gandhian concept of trusteeship in to practice:

  • The workers should seek redressal of reasonable demands only through collective actions.
  • The workers should avoid strikes as far as possible in the industries of essential services.
  • The strikes should be resorted to only as a last resort after all other legitimate measures are failed
  • Workers should take recourse to voluntary arbitration where efforts at direct settlement have not succeeded.
  • If they have to organize a strike trade unions should seek authority from workers to do so, remain peaceful and use non violent method.






The emergence of trade unionism is spontaneous and inherent in the growth of capitalism.

The trade union came into being an agent of workers and working class at large.

The trade union performs two functions:

  1. To work for the redistribution of some of nation’s wealth by raising wages and earnings of its members and thus helping workers to improve and thus helping workers to improve their living standard and in process be better equipped to improve their living standard.
  2. The second objective of the union is more directly related to their security role in the spirit of “Where and How”


  • Dale Yoder: “A trade union is a continuous association of wage-earners for the purpose of maintaining or improving the condition of their working lives.”
  • Flippo: “A labor union or trade union in an organization of workers formed to promote, protect and improve through collective action, the social economic and political interests of its members.”
  • Sidney and Beatrice Webbs: A trade union is continuous association of wage-earners for the purpose of maintaining or improving the condition of their working lives.
  • Clyde E. Dankert: A trade union is a continuing organization of employees established for the purpose of protecting or improving through collective action the economic and social status of its members.
  • D.H Cole: A trade union means an association of workers in one or more professions carried on mainly for the purpose of protecting and advancing the member’s economic interest in connection with their daily work.
  • Cunnison: The special features of a trade union are that it is a monopolistic combination of wage-earners who as individual procedures are complementary to one another but who stand to the employers in relation to dependence for the sale of their labor and even for its production and the general purpose of the association is in view of that dependence to strengthen their power to bargain with the employers.

General Definition of Trade Union

A continuous association of workers/employees for the protection and promotion of the economic ,social and other rights and interests of its members.

Comparison of definitions:-

  1. Webbs and Cunnison have used the expression “wage–earners” code and Dankert have preferred ‘Workers’ and ‘Employees’ respectively.
  2. The Webbs and Cole have used the expression ‘assoication’; Dankert has used the word ‘organization’ and Cunnison ‘combination’.
  3. The definitions of Dankert and Cunnison mention collective action or collective bargaining as a method of trade union but the Webbs’ and Cole’s definitions are silent about such methods.

Ultimately a union is “what it does” and unionism is “what it is”.


Objective of Trade Unions:

The Primary functions of trade unions are to protect the workers against the excesses committed by employers and to satisfy the needs of the workers.

Trade unions generally pursue the following broad objectives.

  1. Steady Employment: Enough jobs with good pay which cannot be guaranteed by the employers himself and thus workers need to be involved in political action through their unions.
  2. Rationalization of personnel policies: The economic security is dependent on level of wages duration of wages and management policies like retrenchment, transfer, promotion and in the disciplining of employees. If there are rules and rational policies, there is a greater assurance of fair treatment and equal justice.
  3. Voice in decisions affecting workers: The intervention of the union in the vital decisions of the factory /planet or management working place such as introduction of labor saving devices, relocation or closing etc. is the only way by which the workers is able to achieve any degree of control over the affairs that concern him/her.
  4. Recognition and participation: Unions want to be recognized for the fact that they are equal partners with management in the task of production. The thought is-the intellectual facilities of workers are no inferior to those of management.
  5. Gaining legislative enactments: To provide legal sanctions to its demands, the union attempt to get this framed in the form of acts so that they become permanent features of the contract between the employers and the workers. To achieve these unions might have ties with any political party or form their own political party.
  1. Miscellaneous Services: Modern Trade unions also engage in providing educational, medial, recreational and other facilities for the development and welfare of their members and their families, if they have sufficient funds at their disposal.

Social Responsibilities of Trade union

  1. Promotion of national integration
  2. Generally influences the socio-economic policies of the community through active participation in their formulation at various levels.
  3. Instilling (administer, fix) in their members a sense of responsibility towards industry and the community.


Functions of Trade Unions

The functions performed by the trade unions can be broadly in to three categories

Militant Functions Fraternal Functions Political Functions
-To Secure better conditions for work and employment.


-Endeavour to secure some share in productivity gains and a greater share in the management or even control of industry.


-They adopt agitation methods and put up a fight with the management in the form of gherao, Strike.

-A trade union is a mutual benefit organization supporting the members out of their own funds during the period of work stoppage, when the workers are unfit for work because of illness or employment injury or when they are temporarily unemployed. -Many Trade unions seek to improve the political status of the union, the leader and the union members. They contest political elections and try to acquire power.


Methods of Trade Union

The classic description of trade union methods by the Webbs are consisting of:

  1. Mutual Insurance

‘Mutual Insurance’-term used by Sydney and Beatrice Webbs denoting the provision of insurance against certain risks and other welfare amenities provided by trade unions to their members.

The method consists mainly of welfare activities conducted by trade unions for their members. These amenities and aids are provided out of the funds that its members contribute in the share of membership subscriptions and donations etc.

Thus, the effectiveness of this method is directly dependent upon the income of trade unions.

Only a few Indian Trade Unions in India have been able to develop welfare activities such as “The Textile Labor Association Ahmadabad, The Tata Worker’s union Jamshedpur and The Madras Labor union.”

  1. Collective Bargaining

Collective bargaining can be defined as a method adopted by the trade unions in which the unions representatives/members collectively bargain with employer/employers for improving the terms and conditions of employment of their members. The word collective refers to worker side.

Since an individual worker is a weak bargainer, the method of collective bargaining is preferred.

The process of collective bargaining is bi-partite, i.e. between employers/management and trade unions. It should be free of external agencies as government.

In India, under the Industrial dispute Act 1947, if a collective agreement is registered with the appropriate government it becomes a settlement whose violation is a penal offence. Nonetheless collective agreements are still not treated as contracts enforceable in a court of law under any other civil body in India today.

George W. Taylor –“No one should have doubt about the unlikelihood that collective bargaining can be maintained in the absence of right to strike and lock out.

  1. Legal enactment/Political action undertaken by the unions.


This is a trade union method comprising exerting pressure on government for pro-labor legislation and labor welfare amenities, setting up of labor parties or developing allegiance to pro-labor political parties and seeking control of industries.


The example of these method can be seen in the Indian National Trade Union congress (INTUC) has close relationships with the Indian National congress, the All India Trade Union congress (AITUC) with the communist party and the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) with the Bhartiya Janta Party(BJP).


The political action is intended to benefit the working class in general.


The Marxian Theory:

Karl Marx was the founder of “Scientific Socialism” popularly known as “communism”.

Marx stated-“The organized labor movement is an intermediate step in the class struggle the fight for power by the proletariat class (workers) to overthrow the capitalist class (bourgeoisies).

The Bourgeoisie: It refers to the part of society, including employers and people who run large companies that own most of the wealth.

The proletariat: It refers to the class of people who do unskilled job in industry.

Most of the Marx’s ideas about the origin, growth and role of trade unions in such a system can be found in his books “The poverty of philosophy (1847), the communist Manifesto (1848).

The inaugural address of the first international Workingmen’s association (1864) and his correspondence with Friedrich Eagles and others.

Karl Marx traced the origin of trade unionism to the growth of industrial capitalism.

In Karl’s view

  1. Trade unions represent a prime instrument of class struggle between proletarian workers and capitalists.
  2. Trade union is an “organizing centre” without organization centre the workers compete with each other for availability, employment. The trade unions helps them to avoid this competition for the purpose of obtaining at least such contractual conditions as would raise them above the status of bare slaves.
  • With emergence of trade union movement the decay of capitalism would be inevitable.

Trade unions are essentially political institution a means of consolidating the workers’ position on a party with and eventually superior to that if any other member joining.

A worker joins trade unions for the purpose to gain economic insecurity political exploitation and social degradation.

The labor movement on an international scale in which the interests if the workers are identical and always in opposition to those of their masters.


Webbs’ Theory of Industrial Democracy

Sidney Webb and Beatrice Webb were dominant leaders of the labor party in Great Britain during 1920s and 1930s.

Their books “The History of Trade Unionism (1984)” and “Industrial democracy(1897)” are often regarded as Bible of Trade Unionism.Lanin translated Industrial Democracy.

According to Webbs-

Trade unionism is an extension of democracy from the political sphere to that of industry and to overcome the dangers of managerial dictatorship.

The Function of representing and protecting the working class is not temporary obligation, asking from the current state of modern industrial development nor does it lead eventually to the all embracing “dictatorship of the proletariat.”.They rejected emphatically the “classes’ society”

Webbs as “Fabian socialists” saw a different outcome in the evolution of political form. They have shared adverse affects of competition in their analysis.

The explanation of the workers misery is the comparative prices leading to the struggle for commercial and industrial survival in the “Higgling market” based on consumer pressure and expectation.

Webbs talked of the class struggles as “the long drawn out battle of interests between capitalist employers and manual working wage-earners.”

Webbs said –Trade unionism may extend democracy to the industrial sphere. It may equalize the bargaining power of labor and capital. Hence it would be possible to establish uniform rules which they called as common rules, in respect of wages,working hours and working condition etc.

Webbs said –Trade union movement is not an instrument of revolution to overthrow the capitalistic order. They didn’t think it is necessary to accomplish complete overthrow and liquidation of business class. It is merely to eliminate “industrial autocracy “ and replace it with “Industrial democracy”

To improve the economic status of the working class and to infuse industrial democracy, Webbs advocated the method of mutual insurance collective bargaining and legal enactment. According to them the special function of the trade union is the democratic administration of the industry.

Cole’s Theory of Industrial Unionism and Control of Industry

G.D.H Cole , a Fabian socialist like the Webbs ,presents a theory of trade unionism which is similar to that of the Webbs.

Cole’s theory is also a class struggle theory. He asserts that class struggle is irrefutable under capitalism. It is only by means of class struggle that one can escape from it.

Cole’s mentioned the inconvenience caused to public by strike action by asserted its necessity for launching a struggle against capitalism. A public that acquires in exploitation has no rights against workers who are up in arms against it. As long as social inequalities persists industrial disputes will go along with it strikes happen because of inequalities and injustice. According to him, trade unionism exists to carry on class struggle.

Cole gave the intermediate and ultimate stages of the class struggle and remarked “the control of industry may be the future destiny of the trade unions; the direct control of the whole national life is most empathically not for them.”

Hoxie’s Theory of Business Union

Robert F. Hoxie presents as socio psychological approach to trade unionism in his book “Trade unionism in the United States (1920)”.

Hoxie has adopted a pluralistic approach to trade unionism. Robert Hoxie explained the origin of trade unionism in terms of group psychology.

According to him, workers who are similarly situated economically and socially closely associated and not too divergent in temperament and training will tend to develop a common “interpretation of their social situation” which produces agreement among the group as to the problem forcing its members and the kind of remedial programme which will solve it.

Hoxie classifies trade unions on the basis of the functions performed by them.

Four types are:

1.Business Unionism: It is a functional type of unions with a trade conscious as opposed to class conscious. It is also known as “Bread and Butter Unions”.

  • It is conservative in outlook and accepts the capitalist organization and wage systems.
  • It generally tries to limit its membership through apprenticeship, high initiation fees and inclusion of more          skilled workers in a craft or industry.
  • Collective Bargaining is the usual method followed by these unions with heavy reliance on strike as a weapon.
  • With the establishment of the ‘American Federation of Labor’-This type of Union becomes more distinct.

2.Friendly or uplift Unionism

These unions are idealistic in view point.

Such unionism aims mainly at elevating the moral intellectual and social life of workers such a type prefers to rely on political action, mutual insurance activities and co-operative enterprises. They are low abiding and employ the methods of collective bargaining for securing benefits for the workers.

The knights of labor (1881-86) of the United States, symbolizing middle class uprising, represented this type of unionism.

  1. Revolutionary Unionism

These are extremely radical unions both in viewpoint and action. It is distinctly class conscious rather than trade conscious and so rejects private ownership of productive resources and the wages system.

Their weapons are either political action or direct action in the form of strikes, boycotts sabotage and violence.

-Collective bargaining is also used.

-Their aim is to overthrow the capitalistic system and install socialistic systems.

Hoxie has further subdivided this into:

  • Socialistic Unionism
  • Quasi anarchistic Unionism


  1. Predatory Unionism

Unions of these types don’t follow any ideology. They are characterized by ruthless pursuit of thing in hand by whatever means seen most appropriate at the time, regardless of ethical and legal codes or effect.

There methods include collective bargaining secret bribery and violence.

  1. Dependent Unionism

A dependent union is parasitic in nature relying upon the support of the employers or other labor groups.

This is of two types

  1. Company Unionism
  2. Union label Unionism

Company unionism is dominated by the employer and is dependent on him.

Union label unionism depends upon the union label being imprinted on the products made by the union members so the consumers (Particularly workers) may opt for union-label products in preference to these not so labeled.

Hoxie predicted that with the rise of union power, collective bargaining would develop into a form of industrial democracy and bring an end to the profit system.

Hoxie conceives of the trade union movement as a product of the American environment.


Tannenbaum Technological Theory

“The labor movement is the result and the machine is the major cause. The machine threatens the security of the individual workers and the wage earner reacts in self-defense through union to attempt to control the machine.”

—  Frank Tannenbaum A philosophy of Labor

Frank Tannenbaum, a professor of History of Columbia University U.S.A has developed a technological  theory of trade unionism in his 1921 book A philosophy of labor.

According to him –“labor movement is the result and machine is the major cause”

In Tannenbaum’s view mechanization led the breaking of society which had hitherto given to the workers ‘security, justice, freedom and faith.

The workers were led to look after themselves individually and thus the advent of machines resulted in social atomization.

When the socially atomized workers started congregating under one roof, they wanted to restore their past position.

Frank Tannenbaum says-The industrial revolution destroyed the earlier mode of life (older way of life) and left the individual at the mercy of the employer “who become the catalytic agent that crystallized the workers into a self-conscious group.

The aim of trade union movement is to control over the machine so as to overcome insecurity thus according to Tannenbaum, the emergence of unionism is spontaneous and inherent in the growth of capitalism. It reflects the usage of the human beings to have control over machine. Tannenbaum saw the labor movement ultimately displacing the capitalistic system of Industrial democracy.



John Rogers commons also called Sydney Webb of United States, has been a pioneer in writing on the American labor movement. He suggested his theory to be a class struggle theory.

Common’s Theory of labor movement has been based on a set of basic premises which are mostly environmental factors, thus his theory is also called “environmental theory of labor movement”

The basic premises of his theory were “Marxian”(always a reaction and a protest against capitalism. Although the conclusions being those of careful observer and a restrained reporter would hardly have satisfied the German Revolutionary Philosopher.

According to commons the American workers continued to be more interested in their jobs and became ‘job conscious’. As long as the wage earning class accepts the existing order and merely attempts to secure better wage bargains ,its goal must eventually be some of trade agreement which recognizes the equal bargaining rights of the organized employers.

“Its union is not” class conscious” in the revolutionary sense of separation from but partnership with the employing class.”

PERLMAN’s Job Consciousness Theory or PERLMAN’s Theory of Scarcity Consciousness

Selig Perlman’s theory of trade union movement also known as ‘Job Consciousness Theory’ is primarily based on his labor movements in the United States, Great Britain ,Germany and Rusia.

Selig Perlman (1888-1959) was the inheritor of John R. Common’s intellectual leadership in labor economics at Wisconsin School.

Perlman wrote extensively on the labor movement being the author of “A History of Trade Unionism in United States (1922)” and “A Theory of Labor movement (1928)” among others.

According to Perlman-Unionism developed because of the workers’ scarcity consciousness which arose in the minds of the workers because of the fact that their economic position cannot improve beyond that which is barely sufficient to cover minimum essential of an ordinary standard of living.

Out of their scarcity consciousness grew a job-conscious unionism, a unionism which controls the job opportunities. The union establishes certain job rights which it then rations among the members through regulation applying to overtime, seniority etc.

Perlman holds that labor movement in any country is shaped by three basic factors:

  1. The resistance power of capitalism determined by its own historical development.
  2. The degree of dominance over the labor movements by the intellectual’s mentality Perlman held that the goal of organic labor’s crystallized out as communism of opportunity and intellectuals dividing into type distinguishable as ‘ethical’ efficiency expert and determinist –revolutionary. According to Perlman genuine trade unions are ‘bread and butter’ trade unions.
  3. Perlman holds that capitalism is a social organization presided over by a class with an effective will to power,      thus implying its ability to defend its power against all corners.

Mahatma Gandhi’s Sarvodya Theory

According to Mahatma Gandhi,Unions are not anti capitalistic organizations.

Trade unions main aim is to increase their internal strength to work conscientiously and take from the employers no more than that what is rightfully due to the workers.

Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy is based upon the “Sarvodaya” Principles of truth, non-violence and Trusteeship, in which class harmony prevails Gandhiji’s main ideas relating to labor issues, trade unionism  and industrial relations are contained in many of his writings like “Young India and Harizan”. R.J.Soman’s peaceful industrial relations: Their science and Techniques(1957) and Mahadeva Desai’s The Righteous Struggle (1951).

Gandhiji considered trade unions as essentially reformist organizations and economic institutions, which must be organized on the basis that capital and labor are not antagonistic but are supplementary to each other. He observed –“My Ideal is that capital and labor should supplement and help each other.”

Aims and Objective of Trade Unionism

According to Gandhiji Trade unionism is not anti capitalist .The idea is to take from capital labors’ due share and no more and this not by paralyzing capital labors’ due share and no more and this not by paralyzing capital but by reform among laborers from within and by their own self consciousness. Its aim is internal reform and evolution of internal strength .The indirect result of this evolution when and if it ever becomes complete will naturally be tremendously political.

Gandhiji was never against strikes, he declared strikes as “-inherent right of the working men for the purpose of securing justice ,but strike must be considered a crime immediately the capitalists accepts the principle of arbitration

Gandhiji specifies certain conditions before a strike is called:

  1. The cause of strike must be just
  2. There should be unanimity among workers in favor of the strike.
  3. Strikes must not resort to violence.
  4. They should not intimidate or coerce workers who don’t wish to participate in the strike.
  5. They should refrain from securing financial help from third parties.
  6. They should display solidarity among themselves as long as the strikes last.
  7. Workers should not go on strike without the consent without the consent of the union to which they belong.

Gandhiji did not support the view of unions taking part in political activities for following two reasons.

  • The workers are not enlightened
  • The political parties exploit the workers for their own ends.

Gandhiji insisted that strikes should be undertaken only after adapting the legitimate means of settling disputes, which were

  1. The moral appeals to the conscience of the employers to concede to their just demands.
  2. When moral appeal failed, resort to voluntary arbitration.


Kerr and Associates’ Protest theory

Clark Kerr, John Thomas Dunlop, Fredrick Harbison, Issac Myers observed that labor protest is inherent in industrialization. According to them labor organization is organized from protest.

The nature and role of such organization depend upon the industrialization process, the industrializing elite and the specific culture and environment of a country. The term “Labor organization” in place of trade union.

These thinkers are of the view that the traditional analysis of the labor problem is confined to a study of labor movement.

Kerr and his associates feel that the leadership of industrialization process taken by one of the five ideal types namely dynamic, elite, the middle class, the revolutionary intellectuals ,the colonial administrator and the nationalist leaders. They are of the opinion that the structure function and sources of leadership and ideology of trade unions differ from the types of industrializing elites.

  1. Dynamic Elite Leadership
  • The unions undertake social functions at the plant level and also indulge in political activity challenging the employers.
  • The workers join a large number of industrial unions ,frequently with competing centralized federations
  • The leadership is provided by the intellectuals with a political bend of mind.
  • With few exceptions ,unions are ideologically “class-conscious” and “revolutionary”
  1. Middle Class Elite
  • The union undertakes the regulations of management at the local and industry level as that independent political activity which does not challenge the employers.
  • Organizationally there is a variety of forms within few centralized federations.
  • Such unions are led by the workers themselves ideologically they are reformist.
  1. Revolutionary Intellectual Elite
  • The unions’ main function is to act an instrument of the party to educate and lead workers and to stimulate production and the political activity.
  • Such unions are organized into a few industrial unions affiliated to a centralized federation.
  • These types of unions are led by themselves, ideologically they are reformist.
  1. Colonial Administral Elite
  • Unions functions largely as a part of the independence and nationalist movement.
  • They show a wide variety of structures and organizations which are not developed.
  • The leadership is provided by nationalist and independence leaders and intellectual leaders with a large following.
  • Ideologically, such unions are anti colonial and right for independence.
  1. Nationalist Elite
  • Unions work for the conflicting objectives of economic development and protection of workers.
  • There is a tendency towards industrial unions with one federation acceptable to the elite.
  • Leadership is provided by national leaders are intellectuals (Except in the case of manual workers)
  • Ideologically, the unions are nationalist.

Kerr is of the option that “The type of labor organization that develops in a country is related to the type of industrializing elite that there are certain universals and the diversities can be explained in terms of the strategies of the industrial elites and cultural and environments. Labor protest is now on decline and can be controlled.