213 STRUCTURE AND FUNCTIONS OF LABOUR UNIONS 86 The labour movement has

213 structure and functions of labour unions 86 the

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213STRUCTURE AND FUNCTIONS OF LABOUR UNIONS 8.6 The labour movement has developed a multi-level organisation structure over time. It ranges from local unions to the principal federation. Each level has its own officers and ways of managing its affairs. Let us study each level in more detail. (a)Structure and Functions of National Unions The most powerful level in the union structure is the national union. The national union is governed by a national constitution and a national convention of local unions, which usually meets every two or five years. Elected officers, aided by an administrative staff, conduct the day-to-day operation of the national union. The national union is active in organising workers within its jurisdiction, engaging a collective bargaining at the national level and assisting its local unions in negotiations. In addition, the national union may provide numerous educational and research services for its local unions, publish the union newsletter, provide legal counsel, and actively lobby at national and state levels. National unions represent the centre of power in the labour movement. Each national union is responsible for conducting its own affairs, much as business organisations do. National unions charter local unions to carry on the unionÊs purpose of representing workers at the shop or office level. Local unions support the national structure by paying a per capita tax established by the national union. In return, the local unions receive various services from the national union. National unions govern themselves through conventions held on a periodical basis. Local unions send their delegates to the convention in order to have a say in the governance of the national union. (b)Structure and Functions of Local Unions The basic element in the structure of Malaysian labour movement is the local union (enterprise or in-house union). To the individual union member, it is the most important level in the structure of organised labour. Through the local union, the individual deals with the employer on a day-to-day basis. Some of them are affiliated with the national union. In general, there are two kinds of local union: craft and industrial. A craft union is typically composed of members of particular trade or skills in
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TOPIC 8 EMPLOYEE AND INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS 214 specific locality. Members usually acquire their job skills through an apprenticeship programme. An industrial union generally consists of all the workers in a particular factory or group of factories. The type of work they do and the level of skill they posses are not a condition for membership in the union. Elected officials run the local union. These officers, except in very big local unions or in certain craft unions, are normally workers of the unionised organisation. Local unions carry out the daily functions of business unionism. The two primary tasks of the local are to: (i) Negotiate the labour agreement; and (ii) Represent member rights through enforcing the contract by way of the grievance procedure.
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