Sub-Topic 6: Labour Relations

Labour relations deals with the ways in which the employers who are the owners of a business relate to their employees. It also refers to the relationship among the workers.


· Rights and duties of

- employers

- employees

Just price

  • Just wage
  • Employer-employee relationship
  • Trade Unions
  • Industrial actions and Collective bargaining

Trade unions

Trade unions are labour relations or organizations set up with an aim of improving the general. Welfare of workers, providing security of workers/employees and ensuring that conflicts are solved by peaceful means through bargaining between employees and employers.


A trade union is an association of workers whose aim is the protection of its members against economic exploitation.

They originated in western countries in the nineteenth century at the time when industrial workers were very poorly treated by employers wishing to maximize profits.

Since there is still exploitation of workers they are necessary until such a time when they will be replaced by a system of co-ownership.

Ideally they are necessary in the presentation and respect of employees' rights.

They ensure security of employees at their places of work; in so doing job security is assured.

They are concerned with improving the general welfare of workers especially in terms of sickness and other related problems such as death.

They bargain with employers about the terms and conditions of services including the wage payable to workers at different levels.

In economic terms, they are supposed to consider the success of the enterprise on which the employment of the workers depend and so quality workmanship brings better expectations.

Workers are helped to overcome inflationary situations by demanding increment of salary.

Trade unions fight against exploitation of labourers.

They help to offer education to workers, normally done through workshops, seminars about their rights, duties and roles and how they can ascertain their job security.

They encourage workers the labourers to work efficiency and effectively in order to reap good results by wages and any benefits.

They also help government to implement its policies ensuring that no employer pays the labourer below the legally accepted wage rate.

They help to smoothen the relationship between employers and employees as a way of averting conflicts.

Generally, trade unions have aims which are for the good of workers but also since they encourage effective work they help employers to gain through quality work.

However, trade unions members tend to build themselves into a bureaucracy and structure: with power equivalent to employers and may equally be abused.

There are also problems associated with trade unions such as conspiracy of the bosses with the employers and the collective effort is destroyed.

They lack the economic strength to sustain a strike for months because of limited logistics at their exposure.

Many trade union members may not have job security because of lack of enough professional education.

There is also abundance of cheap labour so workers may fear to have collective stand if not they may loose jobs which are their sole source of survival.

Trade unions are sometimes influenced by other forces like the politicians so the usually fail to accomplish their mission.

They at times lack coordination with other branches elsewhere.

Government at times interferes in the affairs of trade unions.

Sometimes, there is unhealthy rivalry between one union and another, with competition for membership or for reservation of certain jobs for members of particular union.

They at times have argument on demarcation of duties or disputes often slow up production and increase expenses.

Sometimes the executive are out of touch with ordinary members causing unofficial strikes.

Sometimes they are discriminative i.e. fighting for one section of members leaving out another category


A vocation is a specialized / skilled type of work one undertakes for a profession such as agriculture, industry, medicines, teaching or social work.

Some jobs are really risky. This reporter faces death threats

Vocation is sometimes referred to as a career which means a job, an occupation one wishes to have in future although it involves much more than this.

The educated man of today realizes that no individual/family is economically self sufficient without a vocation or job of some kind.

Vocation is also a divine call from God; who calls people to do everything for specific kind of work.

People always find problems in choosing vocations or realizing them because of many factors.

Problems faced in career choice

Some people's financial background is so poor that they are unable to go for desired courses, e.g. one may be forced to join a Teacher's College or technical school after senior four just to survive though the desire was to become a doctor, journalist etc.

There is wide spread unemployment due to limited job opportunities so one get the one available.

Some courses are privately sponsored and are very expensive e.g. one who wished to take up the career of being a pilot finds it extremely hard because it is too expensive and has limited chances to join. At Soroti Flying School, students pay 30,000$ per year.

There is high competition for some courses such as law, mass communication, urban planning in that they take only those who have excelled.

Delay in the payments of salaries in some jobs makes the job unattractive.

Some jobs the payments are too low for one to survive.

There is also lack of motivation in some jobs; no allowance, little chances of upgrading or promotion e.g. in the police force one can work as a constable for even 20 years or the rest of one's life except those who join at higher level with higher qualifications (graduates).

Corruption, bribery makes it difficult for those who are not able to compete favourably.

Sometimes, there is tribalism, nepotism and other to penetrate through.

Inflation is yet another factor discouraging some careers especially if they are low paying.

There is poor career guidance at school or from parents.

Cost sharing in education especially at university and other tertiary institutions makes the poor one to branch off to something else and not able to attain the goals.

Lack of ambition and determination.

Workers need additional skills and ICT literacy to successfully achieve their goals

IDevice Icon Specific Objectives
Learners should be able to:
  • compare labour relations.

Determine a:

- Just wage.

- Just price.

  • point out advantages and disadvantages of trade unions.
  • discuss the merits and demerits of trade unions in Uganda today.
  • analyze the concept of industrial action or collective bargaining.