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In an attempt to assess the functions of a trade union one must first grasp a clear definition of what is a Trade Union. There are many different definitions of a trade union, yet the many definitions demonstration commonalities like the functions the trade unions are expected to perform and who are its members. One Author defines a trade union as any “organization whose membership consists of employees, which seeks to organise and represent their interest both in the work place and society and in particular, seeks to regulate the employment relationship through the direct process of collective bargaining with management” (M. Salamon). Another author defines a trade union as “an association of employees designed primarily to maintain or improve the conditions of employment of its members”. (Lester). The both definition share the same features like the function of representing the interest of its members in terms of their employment.
Conventionally, the main focus of the trade unions as an organization was centred on defending the interests of its members and ensuring that they are not subject exploitation. Trade unions have also been seen as drivers for change in the socio political systems. Author Michael Salamon identifies six (6) functions of the trade union these include power which deals with protecting and supporting the individual by means of providing strength in numbers. Economic regulation deals with maximising the wages of the members. Job regulation establishing systems that allows the members to take part in the decision making in the organizations in which they work and also to protect members from subjective management feat. Social change (political) use the ideology of the membership to create a people that shares the same views. Member service, each member is given an assortment of benefits and services. Self-fulfilment which is to provide a climate whereby individuals may develop outside the immediate boundaries of their jobs and share in decision making processes.
For the purpose of this essay I will only be discussing three of the functions mentioned above. The function of power is very important when it comes to trades unions since the notation is that there is strength in numbers. Trade unions uses this power to protect its members by means of representing them taking industrial action and in other ways. The cohesion of the members allows the unions to act as a whole. This is a great advantage as individual employees now have an entire organization behind them, thus equipping them with more resources, expertise and the knowledge to be able to effectively negotiate their stipulations and conditions of their employment. The power of the trade unions derived from the combined strength of its members allows the employees to be represented on an equal scale as management. When trade unions can organize their power, management have no choice but to view employees as collective and not as replaceable individual units of a commodity.
However in order for trades unions to effectively express its strength the members must put aside their individual independence and become aware of the importance of collective action. The events of 2015 is a great example of the trade union displaying its power in Trinidad and Tobago

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