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Trade Unions

Module by: Siyavula Uploaders. E-mail the author

ECONOMIC AND MANAGEMENT SCIENCES

Grade 8

THE ECONOMIC CYCLE

Module 4

TRADE UNIONS

ASSESSMENT STANDARD 1.4:

TRADE UNIONS

When you have completed this section, you wIll be able to do an analysis of the role, rights and responsibilities of trade unions.

WHAT IS A TRADE UNION?

  • A trade union is an association of employees who have common interests and have formed an organisation with the purpose of protecting and promoting their interests through collective negotiation with their employers. The process of negotiation between a trade union and an employer is known as bargaining. Employees who join a trade union pay membership fees. The amount is determined by the regulations of the trade union and in many cases the employee’s wages or salary.

Members of a trade union who are employed at the same workplace or live in the same environment form a local branch of the trade union. Each branch elects a trade union representative who acts as spokesperson. The member who is elected to the position is known as the representative or shop steward. Members of large trade unions also elect regional representatives and a national management committee – a committee that acts on behalf of its members. The national management committee is usually elected at an annual conference of the trade union at which delegates from all the regional branches are present.

Trade unions are directed towards protecting the rights of the employees. Problems may occur from time to time in any working environment. When this happens, the employee needs someone to protect his interests or present his case. Trade unions provide their members with legal advice, as well as someone who can present the member’s case, act on behalf of all employees and has the support of the national committee.

What can the employee expect from his trade union?

  • To engage in negotiations with the employer with regard to remuneration, work hours, holidays, the method of payment, allowances, overtime pay and retirement and pension benefits.
  • To represent the employee during negotiations when serious problems develop at work, e.g. when the employee claims to have been treated or disciplined unfairly, or that his complaints have not received due consideration.
  • To negotiate improved working conditions, e.g. when the employee is exposed to health and safety risks such as harmful gases, dangerous machinery, or even inadequate toilet facilities.
  • To negotiate protection for the employee when there is a threat of dismissal or redundancy.
  • To assist in matters related to unemployment insurance.
  • To ensure that part-time employees are treated fairly. As a member of the trade union, the employee is also entitled to other benefits, such as legal advice and legal representation, certain cash benefits and other services, as well as the opportunity to attend trade union training courses.

Trade union organisations are divided into four types:

  • Trade unions for GENERAL WORKERS, representing all kinds of employees across a wide front, both skilled and unskilled, e.g. the Transport and General Workers Union.
  • Trade unions for TRADESMEN, representing employees with particular skills such as cabinet-makers, etc.
  • Trade unions for INDUSTRIAL WORKERS, representing skilled and unskilled workers in a particular industry, e.g. employees in the paper- and pulp-manufacturing industry.
  • Trade unions for WHITE-COLLAR WORKERS, representing employees who are not involved in manual-skills occupations, e.g. teachers.

Activity 1

TRADE UNIONS

List FIVE advantages and FIVE disadvantages associated with trade unions. Discuss each of the advantages and disadvantages in detail. Do you think there is any benefit in belonging to a trade union? Would you consider becoming a member of a trade union when you start working? Each group must present its points of view to the class.

Activity 2

TRADE UNIONS

A friend of yours is about to start a new job. He cannot decide whether to join a trade union or not.

Write him a letter and explain your point of view on the matter.

A3 POSTER AND 2 TYPED PAGES

Select any trade union and find out all you can about it, e.g. how well they are organised; whether they support a particular political party; if so, in what way; whether they have been involved in marches or strikes, and when. Present some of the information on a poster, and then on two A4 pages (typed.)

NOTE: also use newspaper articles for your poster.

Assessment

Learning Outcomes (LOs)

LO 1

the economic cycle

The learner will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the economic cycle within the context of ‘the economic problem’.

Assessement Standards(ASs)

This is evident when the learner:

describes the historical development of money and its role in societies and their economies;

discusses how trade (import and export) addresses the economic problem (choice and opportunity cost), as well as the role of banks in investing in the economy;

explains how different economic systems address the economic problem (e.g. planned, market and mixed economies);

discusses the role, rights and responsibilities of trade unions;

discusses the role, rights and responsibilities of trade unions;

Overview

ACTIVITY 1: Trade unions

Evaluate initiative and ingenuity regarding advantages and disadvantages.

ACTIVITY2: Trade unions

Evaluate points of view as stated in the letter.

A3 POSTER AND 2 TYPED PAGES

Evaluate the research, presentation and opinions as presented.

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