Basic History of Trade Union

History of Trade Union


    • The Trade Union movement is essentially a bye-product of the dynamics of the Capitalist mode of production that emerged with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in Britain. It was imperative that workers who are now faced with new environment with its new relations of production develop a sense of togetherness being confronted with the same kind of challenges. This is a necessity propelled by the existential condition at that material time.
    • As social change occurs or, once there is a shift in the way life and living are organized, new platforms are needed to engage, interrogate, query and harness its potentials and mitigate its negative effects. New attitudes and behavior are created while new consciousness is built. It is therefore not surprising that as new classes became imperative as a result of the now emerging Capitalist mode of production, class consciousness are developed. The two classes that emerged as a result of the movement from the feudal system to the Capitalist system of production were – the Bourgeoisie and the Proletariat; the Capitalists and the Workers.
    • Trade Unions therefore emerged as a construct built on the overarching consciousness of the working people all over the world. It emerged to articulate and understand the new and, in the process, protect and project the interests of the working class especially against the forces that would necessarily by their character automatically undermine it.
    • It is important that we remember that the classical relations between the Capitalist, Means of production owning class and the Worker, Labour power owning class is that of classes with directly opposed interests and aspirations. While one is interested in having a healthy profit, the other seeks to earn as much wages as possible. These interests stand in contrast to each other as the wage motive is seriously against the underlying interest of profit.
    • However, these interests despite their seeming divergence can only be satisfied within the same platform – the production of goods and services. This makes it mandatory that the two must fashion out ways of co-existing together to ensure that the framework is protected and yields its optimum.


The Origin

    • Trade unions as an organization of workers had become a world-wide phenomenon far before Nigeria became a British colony. British workers had fought and won recognition for the formation of trade unions by their employers before this time. Nigerian trade unions therefore did not find it as difficult as their peers in other parts of the world in their quest to take root in Nigeria.
    • With the industrial revolution which started in Britain about 1760 providing the conditions for the establishment and growth of trade unions, the factories, which emerged as centres of production meant that production and associated activities of distribution and services, had to be moved outside the confines of homes and family systems. This automatically caused a shift in the way life and living was organized.
    • The new production system based on factory led to the emergence of completely strange environments and conditions of work that compelled workers at this time to form platforms such as trade clubs to share their new experiences and reach a better and clearer understanding of this emerging phenomenon.
  • This led gradually to the formation of loose federations as these trade clubs began to link up with other similar clubs in their areas of operation.