The Role of Labour Unions in Social Economic Development of Members Case Study: Labour Unions Affiliated to National Organization of Trade Union (Notu)
Author: MULINDWA JOHN
Supervisor: Geoffrey Mubiinzi
The study was on the role of labour unions on social economic development of members. It was guided by three objectives namely: to identify the services and benefits that labour unions are providing to members, to find out the effect of labour union services and benefits on membersí social economic development and to find out the major challenges faced by labour unions. The poor state of labour unions in Uganda motivated the researcher to carry out this research and the researcher is of a view that if workers are made aware of the roles of labour unions on social economic development, there will be an increase in union membership which might lead to improved service delivery bylabour unions as well as proving the relevance of labour unions to workers.
The study followed a case study design which was mainly qualitative in nature although at certain extent quantitative research design was also employed. The researcher used three data collection methods: questionnaires, interviews and documentation reviews. Respondents were randomly selected from the four selected labour unions under NOTU. The researcher based this study on four indicators of social economic development: wages and salaries, carrier development, social welfare and living and working conditions. This research ignored all other variables a part from the ones mentioned above.
The study findings showed that the primary or the traditional role of labour unions is to provide services and benefits to members. The services are: collective bargaining, representation, advocacy, training and educating, policy development and negotiation for workersí pay, among other services. These services were found out to be similar across the boards of unions. On the side of benefits, financial support to members and vocational training and skills development are the commonly provide services to members. It was found out that there is a significant impact of labour union services and benefits on membersí social economic development. It was also noted that the more years a member is unionized, the more he or she will benefit from labour unions. Limited resources to finance labour union activities, limited membership and non-recognition of labour union by majority of employers and employees were found to be the common challenges faced by labour unions. Regarding the effect of provision services and benefits on membersí social economic development, services and benefits provided by unions improved living and working conditions of union members, improved social welfare and they as well increased their wages and salaries but they did little on carrier development of members.
The study concluded that the traditional role of labour unions is to provide services and benefits to members and that labour union services have a significant impact on social economic development of members.
The study recommends the need for the union leaders to improve on the quality of services and benefits provided to the members and as well to invest in property and other fixed assets through which more resources can be raised to meet the growing demands of members and labour unions at large. It is also recommended that labour unions should introduce (or reinstate) well managed loan schemes which could enable members to borrow money for personal development.