Trade Unions and Workers Representation


Trade Unions are associations of workers from different areas who come together with purposes of improving the economic status of the workers and the working conditions of these workers. The association has some leaders that are elected by the members to represent their views to the employers. Some of the areas where the leaders represent the members are rules to be applied in the work and workplace, wage negotiation, hiring, firing, and promotion rules for workers, safety of workers in the workplaces, benefits of workers, etc. The basic aim of trade unions is to ensure some improvements in the employment conditions of its members. The performance of the trade unions has been a concern to many since the number of members to the unions has drastically dropped in the twenty first century, the power of the unions to bargain for the needs of their members has also dropped, and the influence of these associations has also been affected since it is not as strong as it has always been. The trade unions are currently not effective in representing workers. This paper will seek to analyze the trade unions and examine how effective they have been in representing workers.

Literature Review

The current position of trade unions in relation to their responsibility towards serving their members is to be doubted. Recent research has shown that the number of members in the trade unions have fallen, the capacity of the trade unions to bargain with the employers of their members over the issues in hand have also fallen, and the influence that they currently have with the national government is low. In the UK, the activities of the trade union became a source of concern to the public, employers, and the government in the 1960s and 1970s (Howard & Stephen, 2003: p.2). Some employers have come up with the performance-based type of paying workers which makes it really difficult for the union to bargain over the standard amount that an individual should get for the services he or she has offered (Chris, 2007: p.1). Young people joining new careers have contributed to the decline of the union recognition especially due to their attitudes towards unions. When the attitudes of these young people towards unions are negative, their chances of enrolling to be members are also low. This will eventually affect the membership of the trade unions since not many of these young people will register with the trade unions. The relationship between job satisfaction and the individuals’ willingness to join

Trade Unions and Workers Representation

the association is not very stable. Another area of concern is new workplaces and women and their contribution towards the membership in the trade unionism.

Aims of the Research

The research that will be conducted is aimed at providing relevant information regarding the effectiveness of trade unions in representing the workers. The research will also try to establish the reason for the decline of membership in the trade unions and especially the reasons for young people not to join the trade unions (Arthur, 2000: P, engage).

Insights from the Literature

The insights that the literature on this topic offer is that the performance of trade unions these days is not as effective as it was in the past (Malcolm, 2000: p.87). This means that the trade unions have not able to maintain the employment conditions of their members. The insight is important in that if the trade unions prove to lack the capacity to represent its members effectively, the necessary steps can be taken either by redefining the constitution or y dissolving the union and coming up with a new union altogether.

Theses versus Literature

My theses statement is that trade unions have not been able to represent workers in the right way. The literature that current books contain indicates that trade unions have not been able to fulfil several of their objectives and suffers from fewer members, capacity to bargain, and their influence.

Trade Unions and Workers Representation


The data that is required for this research is very sensitive and thus I believe personal interviews will provide the necessary information for the best analysis of the research. The interview aims at capturing information from employees of different classes both members and non-members of the trade union (William, 2002: p.3). Young employees who have started their careers will be another target group. Employers will also be required to respond to some questioned to add on the details of the research. A list of twenty questions will be organized starting from the easiest to the hardest. This will encourage the respondent to give answers to the questions when he or she realises that he or she has the answers to these first questions. One key aspect that the interviewer will observe is the creation of a good rapport during the interview. This will help him or her obtain as much information as possible from the respondent.

The advantage of using this method is that the interviewer is able to clarify some information to the respondent in case the respondent has a problem in interpreting the information that sentence requires. Also, the interviewer is capable of asking some questions that arise in the course of the interview which help in giving more information on the research problem.

The problem of this methodology is that a lot of time is wasted in moving from one place to another to ask similar questions to different individuals. Excess money is also spent in moving from one place to another id order to meet one’s respondents.

Other Available Methodologies

The new methodological approaches that are available include; use of questionnaires where the interviewer will prepare a list of questions that the respondent will be required to give answers to (William, 2002: p.3). Different types of questions are designed here where you start with the

Trade Unions and Workers Representation

easy questions and then proceed to those that are harder until the hardest questions are answered. Types of questions include those that only need a simple yes or no, those that need the respondents view over the issue in hand, those that require a yes or no but with an explanation for the given answer. Another methodology of observation is available whereby the interviewer goes to a place and makes some observations that are supposed to offer him the information required. This method is however not applicable for this research.

Discussion of Sources

There are very few primary sources that offer information on the topic of research. Most of the references that have been used are secondary sources but the information they offer is still relevant.


Trade unions have failed in their duties of representing workers and have therefore ended up losing members and lacking new registration of members. The union has also lost its capacity to bargain with the employers over issues affecting the employees thus an immediate action needs to be taken before it is too late. Young employees are refusing to register for membership in the association. The research done here is aimed at investigating the effectiveness of the trade union in representing workers. A face to face method will be used to acquire the data that is necessary for the required analysis.


Howard, F. G & Stephen, W. (2003). Representing Workers Trade Union Recognition and Membership in Europe. UK: Routledge Publishers, 01-06.

Chris, B. (2007). Work Effectively with Trade Unions. Retrieved on 07-Sep-09 from http://www.

Trade Unions and Workers Representation

Malcolm, W. (2000). China’s Trade unions management. London: Algarve McMillan, 86-88.

Peter, T. K. (2003). Small-scale Research: Pragmatic inquiry in Social methodology. New York, sage, 49-50.

Arthur, I. M. (2000). Historical directory of trade Unions: including unions in printing. Oxford, Oxford University Pres, 249-251.

William, D. C. (2002) Principles and Methods of Social Research. London: McMillan publishers, 03-05.