Understanding Basic Trade Unionism (Part 1)

Most workers do not know the reason why they should join a trade union. Firstly let me start by defining what a trade union is.
A trade union organisation can simply be defined as a democratic, permanent, continuous, independent and voluntary organisation created and run by workers for the improvement, promotion, protection and defence of their rights.
The fundermental principles of a trade union are Unity, Democracy and Independence.

1) *Unity* – The first principle of a trade union is unity of workers and their solidarity i.e “An Injury to One is An Injury to All”.
Employers and other forces are afraid of a united workforce, so they try to sow seeds that breeds disunity at workplaces for their selfish benefit.
Members have an obligation to support their organisation by participation and paying their dues or subscriptions regularly so as to build and strength the organisation.
Participation in sharing of responsibilities and tasks within structures is the reflection of one’s commitment to work with others. The strength of the organisation depends upon it’s membership, hence, the need to achieve┬á­čĺ»┬ápercent membership at all workplaces.

2) *Democracy* – The democratic principle of a trade union is enshrined in its constitution and can easily be put into practice because of its nature of struggles. Every trade union member has a right to be elected into a position of his/ her choice and has the right to elect any person of his/ her choice into any position as long as there is support from the majority. Trade Union struggles are collective in nature, and therefore the decision on what to struggle for and how, should be made by the membership through the constitution and they facilitate membership participation.

3) *Independence* – A trade union is an independent organisation. Trade unon decisions are made buy membership. The source of trade union finance is the membership subscriptions. Other organisations can just provide advice and solidarity.

*Roles and Functions of the Trade Union*

The role and functions of the trade union is to protect workers interests and rights. It is the duty of the trade union to ensure that all the gains achieved by workers are protected. The union should constantly fight for legal rights guarantees, better wages and working conditions.
Inorder to improve the conditions of the workers, a trade union should presently and continuously attack the existing conditions. Promotion of workers interests could be through collective bargaining and other forms of campaigns aimed at improving the quality of life of workers. Trade Unions should never rest because when certain needs of workers are achieved, new ones arise.

So basically as workers in the mining industry the first important decision we have to make is to decide on which union one should join and why? As ZDAMWU we have always maintained that our organisation is there to improve and make a difference to the lives of mineworkers through effective participation of members and beneficial engagement with employers at workplaces.
In order for us to achieve this, we need your support because YOU are the owners of the trade union.
Leaders are just there to drive the organisation while the membership dictate the pace through their active involvement in the affairs of ZDAMWU, your Union of Choice.
There are workers who are in the habit of criticising a union when they are not members but quickly run to the same union when faced with problems.
The time to be spectators is OVER we now need players for us to win this GAME.
Yes, we fully understand that there are unions which have betrayed workers big time in the past by making decisions without consulting members but as ZDAMWU, our thrust is different because we want you to be at the centre of the struggle. Members are the owners of ZDAMWU and leaders are there to act on behalf of members.
Let’s move together. Let’s forget about these other unions which betrayed you in the past, let’s define a new direction for our struggle because we can NEVER win this Battle if we continue looking back into the past.

Join ZDAMWU Today, the union that Delivers!

Produced by Bright Chibvuri. ZDAMWU Information Desk

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