Registration of Trade Union in India – Complete Process

Introduction

Trade Unionism had made its headway owing to the growth of industrialization and capitalism. Trade unions asserted collectively the rights of the workers. The concept of Trade Union was developed on the principle of “United We Stand and Divided We Fall.” It refers to an organization that works for the common goods of the workers of the establishments and industries. As per Section 2 (h), the term Trade Union refers to “any combination whether temporary or permanent, formed primarily to regulate the relations between workmen and employers, or between workmen and workmen, or between employers and employers.”

In layman’s terms, we can say that the Trade Union came into the picture to regulate the relation between them and their employers or between employees themselves, or between employers of the establishment of the industry. As per the definition of Trade Union, it also imposes restrictive conditions on trade or business.

Introduction of Industrial Relation Code, 2020 – A Major change under Labour Legislation

In India, labor falls under the Concurrent List of the Constitution, which means, the laws regarding labor welfare can be made by Parliament as well as State Legislature because labor is the spinal cord for the growth of the nation. Before the 2019 amendment, there are more than 100 State laws and 44 Central laws regarding labor legislation. In 2019, the Parliament of India consolidates all forty- four central labor legislation into 4 comprehensive labor laws. These four labor laws are:

  • Code on Wages, 2019
  • Occupational Safety, Health, and Working Condition Code, 2020
  • Industrial Relation Code, 2020
  • Code on Social Security, 2020

Apart from these four Codes, the Industrial Relation Code, 2020 replaces the Trade Unions Act, 1929, and now it deals with the Trade Unions. This Code only replaces the Act, not its provision. The Industrial Relation Code, 2020 is more comprehensive in nature than the previous Act.

The major change made by the Industrial Relation Code, 2020 was replacing the term workmen with “worker” from the definition of the Trade Union. This replacement makes the provision gender-neutral.

Process for Registration of Trade Union in India

Chapter II of the Trade Unions Act, 1929, deals with the provisions and procedure for the registration of trade unions. In the Industrial Relation Code, 2020, Chapter III deals with the provisions of Trade Union registration. The provision and procedure under the Industrial Relation Code, 2020, is the same as the Trade Unions Act, 1929.

Appointment of Registrars

Under Section 3 of the Trade Unions Act, 1929, there is a provision of Appointment of Registrars. It states:

  • Appointment of Registrars made by the appropriate government[1]. The government may appoint an eligible individual as a registrar of the Trade Union for the State.
  • The appropriate government may also appoint as many Additional and Deputy Registrars of Trade Union in the state for exercising the powers and duties of the Registrar as per their discretion for carrying out the purpose of the Act.
  • The powers and duties exercised by the Additional and Deputy Registrars are under the superintendence and direction of the Registrar. Such powers and functions of the Registrar are specified under the Act.
  • The government may define and specify the local limits[2] of the Additional and Deputy Registrars where they exercise and discharging their powers as Registrar.

In the Industrial Relation Code, 2020, Section 5 deals with the appointment of a registrar, and all the provisions are the same as the Trade Unions Act, 1929.

Mode for Registration of Trade Union in India

As per Section 4 of the Trade Unions Act, 1929,

(1) Any seven or more members of the Trade Union may make an application for the Trade Union registration under the provision of this Act.

(2) The Trade union shall not be registered if,

  • At least 10% or the 100 workmen, whichever is less, engaged in or employed in the establishment or industry are its member on the date of making an application for the registration of the Trade Union;
  • Not less than seven individuals are its members, who engaged in or employed in the establishment or industry on the date of making an application for the registration of the Trade Union.

(3) The application for registration of the Trade Union shall not be deemed to be invalid on the ground that,

  • Some applicants ceased to be a member of the Trade Union, any time after the date of application but before the registration of trade union;
  • But, the applicants who ceased to be a member of the Trade Union shall not exceed the total number of the applicant who made an application for the Trade Union Registration.
  • In the Industrial Relation Code, 2020, Section 5 deals with the appointment of the registrar, and all the provisions are the same as the Trade Unions Act, 1929.

In the Industrial Relation Code, 2020, Section 6 deals with the Mode for Registration of Trade Union, and all the provisions are the same as the Trade Unions Act, 1929.

In the case of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam,[3] The Supreme Court held that any group of employees of the establishment of the industry can be registered as a Trade Union under the Trade Unions Act, 1929, to regulate the relation between them and their employers or between employees themselves, or between employers of the establishment of the industry.

Application for Registration of Trade Union

Under Section 5 of the Trade Unions Act, 1929,

(1) The application for the Trade Union Registration shall be made to the Registrar;

(2) The application should be accompanied by rules of the Trade Union as well as the statement of the following particulars:

  • Name, occupation, and address of the applicants
  • Name and Address (Head office) of the Trade Union
  • The titles, name, address, and occupation of the Office- bearers of the Trade Union.

In case, the existence of the Trade Union for more than one year before the application of its registration shall be delivered to the registrar, then the general statement of assets and liabilities of the Trade Union shall be put forward along with the application of registration.

In the Industrial Relation Code, 2020, Section 8 deals with the application of registration, and all the provisions are the same as Trade Unions Act, 1929.

Provisions to be contained in the rules of a Trade Union

As per the provision of Section 6 of the Trade Unions Act, 1929,

(1) A Trade Union shall not be entitled to get register unless the executive committee constitutes under the provision established by this Act.

(2) A Trade Union shall not be entitled to get register unless the rule of the Trade Union is submitted to the registrar. The rules contain the following matters:

  • The name of the Trade Union;
  • The goals and objective for which the Trade Union has been established;
  • The whole purpose for which the general funds of the Trade Union will be raised;
  • The maintenance of the list of the members of the Trade Union;
  • Admission of the ordinary members who engaged in or employed in the establishment or industry which connected with this Trade Union, or, admission of honorary or temporary members (office bearers as the executive of the Trade Union under Section 22 of this Act);
  • The minimum subscription payment made by the members of the Trade Union shall not be less than:
    • ₹ 1 per annum for rural workers
    • ₹ 3 per annum for the workers of unorganized sector
    • ₹ 12 per annum for workers in any other case
  • The condition under which the members get benefitted;
  • Condition for fine or forfeiture imposed on the members;
  • The condition under which the rules get amend, repeal, varied, etc.;
  • The provision regarding the election and removal of the executive members and the other office- bearer of the Trade Union. Also, these office bearers and executive members were not holding their seats exceeding the period of 3 years after they get elected;
  • Provision regarding the auditing of the book of accounts of the Trade Union;
  • The provision for the Dissolution of the Trade Union.

In the Industrial Relation Code, 2020, Section 7 deals with the provisions to be contained in the rules of a Trade Union.

In case of M.T. Chandrasennam, [4] The Court held that the payment for minimum subscription made by the members of the Trade Union is compulsory as per the provision of Section 6 (ee) of the Trade Unions Act, 1929. Also, the Trade Union may not refuse to accept the minimum subscription amount from its members.

Power to call for further particulars and to Require Alteration of Name

Under the provision of Section 7 of the Trade Unions Act, 1929,

(1) The registrar has the power to make further calls of the applicants or satisfying their needs and assured that the information contained in the application of registration shall comply with the provisions lie under Sections 5 and 6 of the Act. Also, he has the power to refuse the registration of the Trade Union if he thinks it fit under the ground of non-supply of adequate information under Section 5 and 6 of the said Act;

(2) If the Trade Union name which proposed to be registered is identical with the name of other registered trade union or such name as to it likely to deceive the public or the members of either Trade union, then, in that case, the registrar has the power to call the applicants for the alteration of the Trade union Name.

Registration of Trade Union

As per the provision lie under Section 8 of the Trade Unions Act, 1929,

(1) If the Registrar is satisfied that the Trade Union has complied with all the requirements of this Act regarding the registration, then he shall register the Trade Union under this Act;

(2) The registrar shall register the Trade Union by entering in a register, to be maintained in such a form which is prescribed under this Act.

In the Industrial Relation Code, 2020, Section 9 deals with the Registration of Trade Union, and all the provisions are the same as the Trade Unions Act, 1929.

In case of North Railway Employees Sang and Ors,[5] The court held that the competent authority which was established under the Trade Union Act, 1929, has the power to examine whether the registration is rightly given or not.

In Inland Steam Navigation Workers Union (in re),[6] The J. Derbyshire said: the Registrar has,

  • Duty to examine the application
  • Duty to look the object for which the Trade Union established and also seen that, the Trade Union does not go beyond with its objective

If the Trade Union works within its objective and compiled all the requirements which are necessary for it, then it has to register the Trade Union.

In O.N.G.C. Workmen’s Association v. State of West Bengal,[7] The Court held that any order passed by the registrar under Section 8 of the Trade Unions Act, 1929, is administrative in nature. The registrar is not a Quasi-judicial authority and therefore, cannot adjudicate the disputed question of fact or law. He has not had a competent authority to cross-examine the evidence or any of the parties in the disputed matter.

In R.N. Singh v. the State of Bihar,[8] The Court held that only the Civil Court has jurisdiction to adjudicate the suit of dispute under the Trade Union Act, 1929. In any dispute under this Act, there is no provision permitting or empowering the registrar to interfere with the matter.

Thus, under Section 8 of the Act, there is a very limited scope of inquiry by the Registrar. He can only register the Trade Union if he satisfies with all the required details.

Certificate of Registration of Trade Union

Section 9 states that,

  • The Registrar after registering the Trade Union under Section 8 shall issue the certificate of registration in the prescribed manner.
  • The certificate of registration is conclusive proof which states that the Trade Union has been duly registered under this Act.

In IFFCO, Phulpur Karmachari Sangh v. Registrar of Trade Unions,[9] The Court held that the certificate of registration continues to hold until the registration gets canceled.

Minimum members required about membership of the Trade Union

The provision of Section 9A states the requirement of a minimum number of members for all time in the Trade Union. The minimum requirement should be:

  • At least 10% or the 100 workmen, whichever is less, engaged in or employed in the establishment or industry which is connected with the Trade Union;
  • Minimum seven individuals are its members, who engaged in or employed in the establishment or industry which is connected with the Trade Union.

Cancellation of Registration of Trade Union

Section 10 of the Trade Unions Act, 1929, states all the necessary conditions under which the Registrar may cancel or withdrawn the registration of the Trade Union. These conditions are:

  • Certificate of Registration of the Trade Union has been obtained by fraud or mistake; or
  • The Trade Union has ceased to exist or has willfully or other notice from registrar contravened any provision of this Act; or
  • Allowed any rule to continuance in force which is inconsistent with any such provision; or
  • If a registrar is satisfied that a registered trade union ceases to have the requisite number of members.

Also, there should not be less than 2 months prior written notice which specifies the ground for the withdrawal or cancellation of registration certificate shall be given by the Registrar.

In Coromandel Cement Factory Employees’ Union v. Deputy Registrar of Trade Unions and Deputy Commissioner of Labour, Kurnool,[10] The Court set aside the decision of cancellation and withdrawal of registration certificate on the ground that, the authority had not given second show-cause and not giving any opportunity to represent.

In E.C.I.L. Employees; Union v. Deputy Registrar of Trade Unions and Deputy Commissioner of Labour, Hyderabad,[11] The court held that, as per the proviso of Section 10 (b) of the Act, there should not be less than 2 months prior written notice which specifies the ground for the withdrawal or cancellation of registration certificate shall be given by the Registrar to the Trade Union before a certificate is withdrawn or canceled.

Appeal

As per Section 11, if any person is aggrieved by a refusal to register a Trade Union or cancellation or withdrawal of registration certificate by the Registrar, then, in that case, he may appeal:

  • Where the Trade union registered head office is situated within the limits of presidency town of the High Court; or
  • Where the Trade union registered head office is situated within the jurisdiction of a Labour Court or Industrial Tribunal; or
  • Where the Trade union registered head office is situated in any area to such court which should not be inferior to the Court of an Additional or assistant Judge of the Civil Court of the Original Jurisdiction.

In the Industrial Relation Code, 2020, Section 10 deals with the Appeal and all the provisions are the same as the Trade Unions Act, 1929.

Registered office

According to Section 12 of the Act,

  • All the communication or notices of trade Union shall be addressed on the registered head office of the Trade Union;
  • In case of any alteration in the address of the head office, then, the notice of such alteration is given to the Registrar within 14 days of such alteration. So, that, the altered head office address shall be recorded in the register of the Registrar.

Incorporation of Registered Trade Union

Section 13 of the Trade Unions Act, 1929, states that every registered Trade Union shall be a body corporate by the name under which it was registered.

  • This body corporate has perpetual succession and having common seal;
  • It has the power to acquire, hold and contract both movable and immovable property;
  • The Trade Union can sue and can be sued.

Certain Acts not to apply to Registered Trade Union

Section 14 of the Act gives a list of certain Acts which shall not apply to any registered Trade Union and the registration of any such Trade Union shall be void. These Acts are:

  • The Societies Registration act, 1860;
  • The co-operative Societies Act, 1912;
  • The Companies Act 1956; or the Companies Act, 2013

Period for Registration of Trade Union

There shall not be any specific provision regarding the period for registration of Trade Union under the Act.  There should only be a statutory duty of the Registrar to register a Trade union if he satisfies all the requirements of this Act regarding the registration, then he shall register the Trade Union under Section 8 of the Act.

Conclusion

The presence of a Trade Union at the establishment of an industry helps to establish a healthier relation between workers and employers. The Trade Union acts as a channel between both workers and employers. Therefore, the Trade Union must get registered under the Trade Unions Act, 1929 and after 2019, the Trade Union will register under the Industrial Code, 2020. Registration of the Trade Union is necessary because it ensures that the Trade Union was duly certified and then recognized by the establishment or industry.

References

[1]  Central or State Government

[2] Where the registered office of Trade union situated

[3] (1995) Supp (3) SCC 653

[4] AIR 1947 SC 1789

[5] (2017), MANU/UP/0365/2017

[6] 1936 IC 378

[7] (1998) 57 FLR 522 (Cal)

[8] 1998 LLR 645

[9] (1992) II LLJ 239 (AII)

[10] 2001 LLR 170 (AP)

[11] 2001 LLR 760 (AP)

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Aditi Sahu

I am Aditi Sahu pursuing a B.B.A.LL.B. IV Year from Jamnalal Bajaj School of Legal Studies, Banasthali Vidyapith. My career objective is to work in a learning and challenging environment, utilizing my skills and knowledge to the best of my abilities and contribute positively to my personal growth. Also, I am pursuing a Diploma in Business Law for in House Counsel as extracurricular activities.