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What are trade unions and their roles

Updated: Jun 18, 2023

A trade union is a non-government organization setup to protect and improve the welfare of workers. Among the functions of a trade union include collective bargaining in;

  1. Negotiating wages and other non-wage benefits with employers

  2. Improving working conditions, health and safety of workers

  3. Supporting and advising employees on their legal rights

  4. Providing training to union members

  5. Influencing government policy and employment laws

  6. Promoting social engagement by organizing recreational events

  7. Organizing industrial actions and representing employees in industrial court to resolve industrial disputes.

Trade unions are stronger if most employees become members, as they could command a larger mandate and leverage on industrial actions to ensure employers meet their demands. They are also stronger if they represent workers who are highly skilled, exclusive or from an important industry. However, some employees may not favour joining a trade union, as they would have to pay a membership fee.


  1. Training

  2. Motivation

  3. Financial and Non-Financial Rewards

  4. Industrial action

  5. Industrial disputes

  6. Legal controls


  1. Identify and explain ways a trade union could help employees (4 marks) Oct/Nov 2019/11

  2. Define trade union (2 marks) May/June 2020/12

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