Genesis of Labour Unions Abstract


Genesisof Labour Unions


Inthe years past, it was not uncommon for laborers to decline to go towork with the aim of trying to ensure that better working conditionsincluding, wages, work rules and other benefits were implemented.However, over the years there has been the inoculation of labourunions as well as labour laws which work to protect the rights,safety and the well-being of the workers. These unions have evolvedfrom unrespected unions without laws that protected them to much moreorganized institutions that are properly guided and their functionswell defined.

Labourunions are best described as the organizations which have been set upfor the workers and by the workers themselves with the main reasonbeing the follow up of the collective interests. These interestsregarding the workplace include the wages, benefits, rules, safety inthe work place and distribution of power among others (ShmoopUniversity, 2008).The number of unions rose rapidly during the industrial revolutionand were composed of workers, professionals, students and apprenticesamong others. However, after this rapid growth, the number has shrankcontinuously to date. The conditions leading to the development oftrade unions as well as the presence of those conditions in this erawill be discussed in this paper (ShmoopUniversity, 2008).

Conditionsfor the Genesis of labour unions

Theera of industrialization led to a big change in terms of labour withspecific concern to the workers. The establishment of big industriesand factories meant that a higher number of workers was required,however the owners wanted to make the most out of their businesshence making workers to be involved in the work at higher levels thanin the previous periods. Discipline and control over the workers weretightened and therefore this meant that the workers had to work forlonger periods of time and also exposed to other poor and brutalconditions. These conditions led to health and safety issues for theworkers for example in the cases where mines could fall in, orsituations involving the breathing in of toxic chemical substancesfollowed by the exposure to mechanical hazards in the factories(ShmoopUniversity, 2008).

Asif this was not enough, the workers were so confined to the extentthat even breaks permissions had to be begged from the managers orsupervisors. In addition, any damage or loss to the property of thefactory would translate to a similar fine from the worker involve.The wages provided were also not attractive and not enough to sustaina good life. In general the risks involved during the variousoccupations exceeded the benefits in terms of wages and otheradvantages (Kipling,2015).

Fuelledby these issues, the worker unions came into being. The workers beganby organizing themselves with the major demands including theincrease in the wages, reduction of the number of working hours,medical care provision for occupational related injuries and healthconditions, as well as paid vacation days. These unions were not easyto form since they faced a lot of resistance from the business owners(Kipling,2015).In addition to these conditions, the appearance or surfacing ofsocial and political theories which had a great influence in thelabour movement including Karl Max and Frederick Engels among othersocio-political theories provided enthralling philosophical solidfoundation to support the efforts made by labour organizers to createa balance between the interests of the workers with respect to thebusiness owners (Kipling,2015).

Presenceof the poor conditions in today’s globalized work place

Despitethe rapid growth of trade unions in the 1930s, there has been adecline of the same trade unions from 1960s to date. There areseveral factors that contribute to this decline but the major reasonbeing the fact that over time, labour unions have become recognizedas well as the overall improvement of worker conditions. This doesnot necessarily mean that the working conditions have been great toall the workers everywhere. There have been reports regarding thepoor working conditions which include but no limited to long workinghours, the work schedules, remunerations as well as the physical andmental demands that are related to the occupation in question. Otherconditions that have been witnessed especially in developingcountries include verabal abuse, illegal dismissal, lack of hygienefacilities followed by violence and discrimination (Reinhard,2013).

Inmost cases the factories or industries that have the tendencies tohave high demands are usually the ones most common of having poorworking conditions leading to workers being forced to work overtimewithout considerable pay increment. Examples of such industriesinclude apparel industries as well as tanning industries. The use ofcoal and firewood as fuel has been replaced by chemicals which maypose as hazards. There is a notion that in as much as the workerunions are existent, only a small proportion of workers are actuallymembers of the unions. In addition, the improvements made over theyears have not yet reached the optimum level. This can be seen bycases worldwide with complaints regarding poor pay, as well as lackof measures that protect the health of the workers. Examples of suchcases include toy factories in Asia where workers were exposed tohigh temperatures, workers in textile industries all over the worldexperience poor pay and long working hours and in general adequateremuneration has not been adequately implemented (Loomis,2015).


Workersplay the major role in almost all aspects of business and theirrelevance cannot be ignored. Their health and well-being musttherefore be put in the front line to ensure mutual benefit andimprovement in the general life of workers and business ownersespecially through the intervention of the worker unions. It isimportant to implement policies which protect the rights of theworkers while at the same time ensuring that these rights do not harmbusiness owners. An equilibrium would be the key to mutualunderstanding and performance between workers and the places of work.


Kipling.(2015, January 26). Whatled to the rise of labor unions in the post-Civil War US?Retrieved from enotes:

Loomis,E. (2015, June 15). Inthe Global Apparel Industry, Abusive and Deadly Working ConditionsAre Still the Norm.Retrieved from In These Times:

Reinhard,K. (2013, April 13). Workingconditions in the global fashion industry.Retrieved from The World of Labour:

ShmoopUniversity. (2008, November 11). Historyof Labour Unions.Retrieved from Shmoop:

ShmoopUniversity. (2008, November 11). Ideologyin Hisory of Labour Unions.Retrieved from Shmoop: