Why do Workers Join a Trade Union? (Reasons)

Human beings are rational creature. They usually act upon rationally in different spheres of their lives. Similarly, workers join a union with a rationale approach whether joining a union will be benefi­cial or not. This can simply be decided by making a cost-benefit analysis in this regard. The excess of benefits over costs, i.e., profit or reward, justifies workers’ joining to a trade union.

Researchers have devoted a great deal of time and effort to study “why do employees choose to join a union.” They have failed to report a common list of reasons that apply to all organising efforts.

Nonetheless, there is a general agreement among the labour experts that certain issues are likely to lead to an organising drive by workers Major ones among them are the following:

Job Security:

Employees need to have a sense of job security and want to be sure that management will not make unfair and arbitrary decisions about their employment. They look unions to ensure that their jobs are duly protected against lay offs, recall, promotion, etc.

Wages and Benefits:

Employees work for livelihood, i.e., bread-and-butter. Obviously, bread-and-butter issues of em­ployees are always important issues in their unionization. The employees may think that the union, with its united strength, will ensure fair wages at par with those of other workers in the community, benefits such as medical facility, pensions, paid sick leave, vacations and holidays for them.

Working Conditions:

Employees like to work in a healthy and safe environment. Although there are statutory provisions for providing employees a safe work environment employees still feel more secured knowing that trade union is directly involved in safety and health issues relating to them.

Fair and Just Supervision:

The days are long gone when managers / leaders could rule employees with an iron fist. Thanks to the trade unions that brought about a change or shift in leadership styles from autocractic to democratic, or say, people oriented to ensure that the managers treat their employees fairly, justly, and respectfully. Employees can only be disciplined for “just cause.” In case of mistreatment from the employer, the employee may file a written grievance against the employer.

The complaint will be heard and resolved through a formal grievance procedure involving collective discussion by both union and management representatives.


Employees individually often feel voiceless or powerless to bring about changes that will benefit them’. But, it is union that provides them a powerful, collective voice to communicate to management their dissatisfaction and frustration. This is based on labour philosophy ‘unity is the strength”.

Need to Belong:

Man is a social animal. Hence, need to belong is strong in both his personal and work lives. The union, from this point of view, provides a mechanism for bringing people together not only to promote common job-related interests but also to organise programmes, functions, and social events from time to time, to create a strong bond among the union members’.

To conclude, the management’s failure in ensuring job security, fair remuneration, safe and healthy working conditions, fair supervision, involvement in decision making, sense of belonging etc., to employees motivates them to join a union. This is corroborated by well investigated research studies also as is shown by Table 26.1.