1. Trade union movements in U.K.

Trade unionism in Britain is notably older than in other European countries, stretching back at least to the start of the 18th century and quite probably earlier in a few skilled trades such as printing.

Hence it pre-dates the Industrial Revolution. In Britain, trade unionism was much stronger than elsewhere until the end of the 19th century, When German trade unionism caught up in terms of size, although not in terms of acceptance by employers and the state. Unlike Germany, where membership of an independent socialist party-the Social Democratic Party of Germany-was bigger than the trade unions, in Britain the trade union movement was big and there was no sizeable independent working class political party until 1900.

In the 20th century the trade unions were politically strong both as the backbone of the Labour Party and as major powers in industrial politics and industrial relations. As in other belligerent nations, the co-operation of the trade unions was much desired in both world wars by governments to assist in securing higher output for the war effort. After World War II governments sought trade union co-operation in trying to increase productivity and secure better price competitiveness in industry, especially between 1961 and 1979.


By the late 20th century, after both a hostile economic environment and hostile governments under Margaret Thatcher and John Major, British trade unionism had fallen in size from its 1979 peak and was no longer much consulted by governments. Nevertheless, by continental European standards it remained large and, especially in the public sector, influential. By the end of the 20th century British trade unionism was no longer predominantly male.

2. Trade Union Movement in U.S.A.

The Trade Union Movement in the United States of America is today an accepted and permanent part of American social scene. After decades of intense struggle, organized labour is now an admitted fact in economic, political and social life. With the growth of industries the U.S. workers and factory system workers have realised that only through collective action could they bargain on anything on equal terms?

They began to organize. Philadelphia printers appears to be the first trade union which in 1786 went on a strike for a minimum wage of $6 a week, and after six years a kind of permanent formation took place among shoemakers of Quaker city. The scattered unions were formed in two decades and only in 1827 a labour movement appeared and workers in different trades came to form one central labour union.


The Mechanics Union of Trade Association:

After this Central bodies sprang up in New York, Boston and other cities. During Civil war new factories were established to supply the armies.’ There was an expansion of markets from one locality to the nation. The development of national market compelled labour to organize increasingly on a national as well as local scale.

However, they did not survive long. In 1869 another national labour organization was formed – the rights of labour. It became very important but by 1894, its decline started, because of the emergence of another organization American Federation of Labour in 1886. Samuel Gompers was its president. In 1905 apart from American Federation of Labour some other strong trade unions also came up as Industrial workers of the world, which espoused French syndicalism.

In 1935 John L. Lewis organized industrial unions inside the A.F.L. named Committee on Industrial Organisation-CIO. Bitter struggles followed after this with A.F.L. which resulted in the expulsion of these two leaders related to this Committee of Industrial, Organisation and shortly, thereafter, the committee changed its name to Congress of Industrial organization C.I.O. The labour scene at national level is dominated by these two front organizations A.F.L. and C.I.O.


They often try to come closer to each other. These trade Union organizations are not closely associated with any specific political party of U.S.A., however at times they are in forefront in declaring their choices for presidential candidates and express opinions in favour or against the specific policies of the state, and are affiliated to International Confederation of Trade Unions.

3. Trade Union Movement in United Kingdom:

The British Trade Union Movement is the oldest in the world. With the emergence of industrialization and development of capitalism, the workers realized the fact that they could not withstand the power of the employer alone and have to bargain collectively. The employer did not like the workers to join hands with each other and form a combination. The State helped them in this GD.H. Cole writers “there were, already in the eighteenth century a number of statutes forbidding workers. The workers faced persecution and repression. Yet against all odds they were able to win their right to unionise.”

Interestingly the early manifestation of unionization of workers expressed itself in a fear of modern industry. The workers feared that mechanization in the production process would result in the loss of job of the workers. This led the workers to wreck the machine. This form of protest was called Luddism and was severely dealt by the state.


Ultimately the workers reconciled with the fact the modern industries would stay and they have to adjust with them and workers entered another phase of unionism. Apart from fighting for economic betterment in terms of wages and other facilities, the workers realized the importance of share in political power. The national Association for the protection of labour established in 1830. Robert Owen founded the Grand National consolidated Trade Union in 1834. For the protection of workers rights through political process a charter of demands was prepared. This was called Chartist movement.

During this period industrial workers obtained the representation of people’s Acts of 1867 and 1884. In 1868 the Trade Union Congress, a central organization of the English working class was formed.

At the present juncture British Trade Union Congress is the apex body of the workers of Britain. Most unions are affiliated to it. It separates itself from political parties of U.K. Generally labour party draws bulk of its support from trade union. However, there are some unions which are staunch supporters of conservative party. By and large trade unionism in Britain is mainly ‘economic’ like U.S.A.

The Trade Union Movement in Socialist State:


Former Soviet Union The role of trade unions is considered very different in socialist countries from a capitalist system, where they are considered as pressure groups. The purpose of trade unions in socialist counties is to ensure workers’ participation in socialist production management. Therefore the workers associations were considered the most important social force in the vast land of Soviet Union.

The trade Unions of the U.S.S.R. enlisted the working people in coping with tasks connected with the further development of production, teach the masses socialist discipline and communities’ attitude to work and public property, and instill in the industrial and office workers a sense of being masters of their own country.

A brief sketch of history of trade union movement brings out the fact that prior to Bolshevik revolution in Russia; Trade Union had come up quite late. Capitalism got a very late start in the Russian Empire and the protective organizations of the workers were correspondingly late in making their appearance.

The first All Russian Trade Union Conference, composed chiefly of delegates from Moscow unions was held in October 1905. There was ruthless suppressions of their activities by the Russian authorities. As a consequence it was difficult to withstand the ruthless of Russian State power and by the winter of 1916-1917 the membership of unions dwindled to 1500. After March Revolution a council of trade unions was formed in Moscow and one in Petrogard.


In Petrogard, and Moscow and other cities unions workers carried out final seizure of power which followed famous October revolution. The new role of all Russian Congress of trade unions was discussed in 1918 at petrogard in its first congress. With the introduction of New Economic Policy, the unions became economic collaborators and advisers in the management of industry. Before October revolution there existed a large number of small unions that had sprung up mostly after march days which were later united in a central organization known as the All Union Central Council of Trade Union/ Central Council of Trade Union (ACCTU or simply CCTU).

In the great majority of pre-industrial societies, peasants constitute the bulk of the population. Peasant societies generally have very well developed social