By: Batumba Tak
The St. Kitts-Nevis Trades & Labour Union
The Role Of Trade Unions In Industrial Relations
In the words of William Burros, “The role of a Labour Union is to ensure that the balance is not tipped in favor of the employer when employees do not receive wages/salaries and benefits commensurate with their contributions.”
The Historians have affirmed that less than a century ago, the Labourer had no rights, little or no respect, and lead a life which was socially submerged and barred.
Right here in our very beautiful country back then the Plantocracy organized misery into small gang and much other injustices against the working class people (the Masses). In addition, they then went ahead and proclaimed the right of the Planter Class to act without restraints and without conscience.
Thus, the only answer to this intolerable and dehumanizing existence was economic organization through Trade Unions. The working class people (the Masses) became determined not to wait for charitable impulses to grow within the Planter Class soul. As a they went ahead and constructed the means by which there could be fairer sharing of the fruits of his/her toil had to be given to him/her with treat to Planter Class by demonstrating that the wheels of industry, which him/her alone turned, would halt and wealth for no one would be available.
Nonetheless, let us continue by looking at the role of Trade Unions in industrial relations.
Even after all of those International Labour Industrial Laws that were agreed to and accepted, the majority of employers continue to prohibit their workers from posting about Trades & Labour Union at the workplace.
However, very careful research has clearly shown us that Trade or Labour Unions have been around since the 1700s, 1800s, and 1900s to resist through equal bargaining power the domination of the Planter class/employers over workers and to represent workers interest in the employment relationship.
Moreover, the plain truth is, it is through Trade Unions efforts that workers benefit from better wages/salaries and working conditions, and that is why they are now being treated with dignity and respect at the workplace. In fact, a couple of years ago at two particular workplace right here in our very beautiful country, the workers chose to elect shop stewards to be a part of the negotiating team and to represent them on a daily basis.
During their time, at those workplace their employer objected to their involvement at that level. However, their Union, the St. Kitts-Nevis Trades & Labour Union insisted that such was the choice of the workers while indicating that it will fully support the decision of our membership. Eventually the employer accepted the workers choice. As a matter of fact those workers turned out to be excellent shop steward: In addition, they also told the Union that before they became shop stewards their employer did not respect them and that all of a sudden, they were called upon to be fully involved with the daily decisions that were being made by the company on behalf of the workers.
It is also has been an accepted fact that the importance of Trade Unions cannot be overstated at the workplace, even though their membership has been on a steady decline recently because of many different factors on the world stage.
We shall now turn our attention to Collective Bargaining.