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A union can be defined as The condition of being united the act of uniting or a conjunction formed by such an act 2 An association alliance or confederation of individuals or groups for a common purpose esp political When talking of the subject of Industrial Relations the type of union that is most prevalent is the trade union This essay will be to define what a trade union is outline its History and define the advantages and disadvantages of trade unions Trade unions are associations of workers established to improve their economic and social conditions This previous definition is a very basic one and in essence the main function of a trade union When looking at the history of trade unions it can be seen to have originated from the economic struggles between workers and employers in the nineteenth century This means that employees for quite along time have used the many functions that the unions provide Unions in some industries have been able to take advantage of compulsory enrolment but in many workforces today enrolment in unions is optional Therefore in one workforce a union may speak on behalf of all employees while in other workforce it may speak on behalf of a limited number of employees When considering a workforce with optional enrolment it can be seen that there will be workers who are not part of the workplace union In this situation the union can take the opportunity to give selective benefits to those workers that are in the union These benefits can be monetary For example a student union may offer discounts to those enrolled They also provide services such as legal aid taxation advice mortuary benefits dental care educational programmes etc These benefits are usually financed directly from union revenue The benefits may also be psychological For example a union member may feel more secure of his job because he is part
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