1.1 General Background

Development of modern industry, especially in the  Western countries, can be traced back to the 18th century. Industrial development in India on Western lines, however commenced from the middle of the 19th century. The first organised Trade Union in India named as the Madras Labour Union was formed in the year 1918. Since then a large number of unions sprang up in almost all the industrial centres of the country. Similarly, entrepreneurs also formed their organisations to protect their interests. In 1926, the Trade Unions Act was passed by the Indian Government. The Act gave legal status to the Registered Trade Unions. The Registrars of Trade Unions in different states were empowered to register the Trade Unions in their respective states. These registered Trade Unions (Workers & Employers) are required to submit annual statutory return to the Registrar regarding their membership, General Funds, Sources of Income and Items of Expenditure and details of their assets and liabilities, which in turn submit consolidated return of their state in the prescribed proformae to Labour Bureau.

The Labour Bureau on receiving the annual returns from different States/Union Territories, consolidates the all India statistics and disseminates them through its publication entitled the Trade Unions in India and its other regular publications.

1.2   Trade Unions Act, 1926 provides for the registration of the     Trade Unions with the Registrars of Trade Unions of their territory. Any seven or more members of a trade union by submitting their names to the registrar of trade unions and otherwise complying with the provisions of the Act with respect to registration may apply for the registration of the Trade Union under the Trade Unions Act. The Act gives protection to registered trade unions in certain cases against civil and criminal action.

The Statistics presented in this review are based on the returns/reports received from the States/Union Territories in the format provided for in the Act and the figures cover only the registered trade unions. However the response rate from the States/Union Territories is not very encouraging. During 2002, only 21.0 percent of the registered trade unions from 17 States/Union Territories submitted the prescribed returns to the concerned authority; who in turn have furnished the consolidated returns to the Bureau.