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Registration of

Trade Unions
-Monica Rani
Visiting Faculty
 TU Act provides for registration, wherein the
registration is voluntary.
 Registration grants the TU legal status of a body
 The Act provides with certain benefits and privileges to
be sought if the TU gets itself registered.
 Though, it is up to the TU to get itself registered under
the Act or not. Whereas, in some cases the TU is not
allowed registration under the Act, like association of
civil servants.
Registration and Recognition

 Registration does not guarantee recognition of the TU

by the concerned employer.
 Recognition is dealt with by different set of provisions
under State enactments/guidelines (Code of Discipline).
 Recognition is not provided for under the central
legislation i.e. TU Act.
Legal Status of a registered
 Every registered TU is a body corporate by the name it
is registered (Section 13). Accordingly, it has certain
benefits as a body corporate, which are:
 Perpetual succession
 Common seal
 Power to sue and be sued in its own name
 Power to acquire and hold property
 An entity distinct from its members
Benefits and Privileges under the
TU Act
 A registered TU has been given immunity from prosecution for
criminal conspiracy and immunity from civil action as provided
under Sections 17 and 18 of the Act respectively.
 An agreement in restraint of trade shall not be void or
voidable between the members of the registered TU only
because the objects of the agreement are in restraint of trade
as per Section 19.
 After registration no other evidence is required to prove that
the trade union is a trade union. (Section 9)
 The rules and other documents of a registered TU become
public documents maintained at public office. (Section 6(1)
and Regulation 17 of the Central Trade Union Regulation,
Benefits and Privileges under the TU Act

 Members and office-bearers of a TU can inspect the

account books of the TU and list of members as per the
rules of the TU. (Section 20)
 Any person above age of 15 years may be a member of a
TU and enjoy the benefits of a member and execute all
documents and receipts needed to be executed.
(Section 21)
Funds to be created
The TUs have right to constitute two types of funds for
distinct purposes:
General funds (Section 15) for :
 payment of salary,
 allowances to the office bearers,
 expenses of administration,
 upkeep of periodical published regarding issues of
concern for the members,
 prosecution or defence of any legal proceedings to
which the TU or its members are party,
General funds
 conduct of trade dispute,
 compensation for loss arising out of trade dispute,
 allowances to dependents on account of death,
infirmity, illness, etc. of such member,
 insurance of members, or
 any purpose intended to benefit workmen in general.
 Such expenditure must not be beyond one-fourth of the
gross fund accrued by that time and any condition
contained in notification in Official Gazzette.
Political Fund (Section 16)
Separate fund created from contribution specifically levied for
and kept for this fund for civic and political interests of its
 Payment of any expense incurred for a member of a
legislative or local body,
 holding any meeting or distribution of any literature or
documents in support of any candidate,
 The maintenance of any person elected as a member of a
legislative or local body,
 Registration of electors or selection of a candidate, or
 Holding of political meeting or distribution of political
literature or documents,
Contribution to this fund would not be compulsory or would be
a pre-requisite for admission to the TU. Non-contribution to
this fund must not amount to any disability on such member.
Non-application of Some
Non-application of following Acts regarding TUs (Section
 Society Registration Act, 1860
 The Co-operative Societies Act, 1912
 The Companies Act, 1956 (The Trade Union Act needs
amendment in the name of this Act as per the
Companies Act, 2013)
Mode of Registration (Section 4)

 Any seven or more members of a TU may apply for

registration of the TU:
 By subscribing their names to the rules of the TU, and
 By complying with the provisions of the TU Act regarding
 Either 10 percent/ 100 workmen (the lesser number)
engaged or employed in the establishment or industry
with which the TU is connected must be member of the
TU on the date of such application.
Mode of Registration (Section 4)

 Minimum number of seven workmen must be member of

the TU, being employed or engaged with the
establishment or industry.
 The registration must not invalidated only for the
reason that less than half of the applicants have ceased
to be members of the TU or sent a notice to the
Registrar disassociating themselves from such
application. [Section 4(2)]
The Tamil Nadu Non-Gazetted Government
Officers’ Union, Madras v The Registrar of
Trade Unions AIR 1962 Mad. 234

 The TU was a Service Association recognised by Government and

its membership was open to all non-gazetted govt. officers
employed in the Government of Madras, except the Executive
Officers of the Police and Prison Departments and the last grade
Government servants.
 Members of the TU could be Sub Magistrates of Judiciary,
Tahsildars, Officers in Treasuries and Sub Treasuries of Civil
Courts, Tahsildars empowered to enforce tax-machinery, and
officials of the Home Department. Other members could be
workers working in PSUs or working with welfare departments.
 It applied for registration to the Registrar of the TUs, which was
 The appeal was also rejected by the Civil Court and further
appeal was made to the Madras High Court.
The Tamil Nadu Non-Gazetted Government
Officers’ Union, Madras v The Registrar of
Trade Unions AIR 1962 Mad. 234

The Court observed that:

 Civil service has constitutional safeguards.
 A strike, the acknowledged weapon of TU, must not be
considered a normal feature of the relationship between the
State and its civil servants, at least with regard to essential
state functions.
 The objects of the TU were ameliorative and benevolent and
not for the purpose of regulating the relationship between the
workmen and employers i.e. State in this case. The objects
were not related to collective bargaining.
Regal/Sovereign Functions

 The Court referred to State of Bombay v Hospital

Mazdoor Sabha (AIR 1960 SC 610) and Nagpur
Corporation v Its Employees (AIR 1960 SC 675) and
stated that :
 Regal functions are inescapable and inalienable
functions of the State.
 These are; legislative power, administration of laws and
exercise of the judicial power.
 The Legislature could not have been contemplating to
bring the regal functions within the scope of the
definition “industry” and conferring jurisdiction on the
industrial courts to decide such disputes.
The Tamil Nadu Non-Gazetted Government
Officers’ Union, Madras v The Registrar of
Trade Unions AIR 1962 Mad. 234

 The Court observed that employees working with PSUs

or corporation, industrial in character, could be termed
as “workmen” and could form TU to take up their
disputes with their employees. (State of Bombay v
Hospital Mazdoor Sabha)
 There was ambiguity regarding cases of employees of
welfare departments. [Bangalore Water Supply and
Sewerage Board v A. Rajappa AIR 1978 SC 548) was not
decided by then.]
 But, the High Court of Madras was certain that civil
servants performing regal functions of the State could
not form trade union under the Act.
The Tamil Nadu Non-Gazetted Government
Officers’ Union, Madras v The Registrar of
Trade Unions AIR 1962 Mad. 234

 Collective Bargaining, a right granted to TUs, applies to

contractual relationship between employer and employee.
 Reference was made to UK law regarding treatment of civil
servants as workmen but the Court did not allow similar
interpretation to the Workmen.
 The civil servants had safeguards under Article 311 against
penalties like dismissal, removal, reduction in rank, etc.
 Article 310 stated that a civil servant could hold his/her
office during the pleasure of the Head of the Union or the
 In such case application of the concept of collective
bargaining and TU Act was held as wholly irrelevant.
Registrar of TUs v M Mariswamy 1973
ILR 1387 (Mysore)

 The Registrar in this case withdrew the registration

granted under Section 8 of the Act stating that the
organisation with which the members of the TU were
working was neither a trade nor an industry under the ID
Act and the registration was granted by mistake.
 The Court held that the Registrar could cancel or withdraw
the Certificate of Registration only if the TU had obtained
it by fraud or mistake not if the Registrar had granted in
Registrar of TUs v M Mariswamy 1973
ILR 1387 (Mysore)

 The workers who had formed the Union, i.e. Mysore State
Employees Provident Fund Employees Union were working
with Provident Fund Organisation, and it was held as a part
of activity of the industry and establishments similar to
 The Court referred to Employees Provident Funds Act, 1952
and observed that the main function of the Organisation
was to provide financial security to the employees. Its
activities resulted in material services to the concerned
members of the society, i.e. employees.
 It further held that the Organisation discharges a part of
the function of the employers.
Registrar of TUs v M Mariswamy 1973
ILR 1387 (Mysore)

 The Act applies to every establishment which is a factory

employing 20 or more persons or any other establishment if
it employed 25 or more persons or other such establishments
if the Central Govt. notified so.
 The Court further held that the Organisation was a part of
the activity of the industries and other similar
 As the Organisation was held as an industries people working
with it were termed as workmen as per the Act and the TU
was held a valid TU according to Section 2(h) to regulate the
relationship between the employer and the workmen.