REPUBLIC OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
TRADE UNIONS ACT
An Act relating to Trade Unions.
[1st July 1933]
1. This Act may be cited as the Trade Unions Act.
2. In this Act
the Registrar means the Registrar appointed under this Act;
Rules means Rules made by a trade union as authorised by this Act;
statutory objects means the regulation of the relations between workmen and masters, or between workmen and workmen, or between masters and masters, or the imposing of restrictive conditions on the conduct of any trade or business, and also the provision of benefits to members;
trade union means any combination, whether temporary or permanent, the principal objects of which are under its constitution statutory objects.
3. The fact that a combination has, under its constitution, objects or powers other than statutory objects within the meaning of this Act does not prevent its being a trade union for the purposes of this Act so long as it is a trade union as defined by section 2, and any trade union shall have power to apply the funds of the union for any lawful objects or purposes for the time being authorised under its constitution.
4. This Act does not affect
(a) any agreement between partners as to their own business;
(b) any agreement between an employer and those employed by him as to such employment;
(c) any agreement in consideration of the sale of the goodwill of a business, or of instruction in any profession, trade, or handicraft.
5. (1) The purposes of any trade union duly registered under this Act shall not, by reason merely that they are in restraint of trade, be deemed to be unlawful so as to render any member of such trade union liable to criminal prosecution for conspiracy or otherwise.
5. (2) The purposes of any trade union duly registered under this Act shall not, by reason merely that they are in restraint of trade, be unlawful so as to render void or voidable any agreement or trust.
6. Nothing in this Act shall enable any Court to entertain any legal proceedings instituted with the object of directly enforcing or recovering damages for the breach of any agreement
(a) between members of a trade union as such concerning the conditions on which any members for the time being of the union shall or shall not sell their goods, transact business, employ, or be employed;
(b) for the payment by any person of any subscription or penalty to a trade union;
(c) for the application of the funds of a trade union
(i) to provide benefits to members; or
(ii) to furnish contributions to any employer or workman not a member of that union, in consideration of the employer or workman acting in conformity with the rules or resolutions of that union; or
(iii) to discharge any fine imposed upon any person by sentence of a Court of justice; or
(d) made between one trade union and another; or
(e) any bond to secure the performance of any of the above-mentioned agreements.
Nothing in this section shall be deemed to constitute any of the above-mentioned agreements unlawful.
7. The following laws that is to say:
(a) the Friendly Societies Act and any Acts amending it; and
(b) the Companies Act, and any Acts amending it,
shall not apply to a trade union; and the registration of any trade union under any of those Acts shall be void.
8. There shall be a Registrar of trade unions for the purposes of this Act.
9. The Registrar shall keep a register of all trade unions registered under this Act in the form required by the Regulations, and shall discharge all the duties required by this Act and by the Regulations.
10. (1) Every trade union to which this Act applies shall be registered under this Act.
10. (2) It shall be deemed to be a sufficient compliance with this section if the Registrar, by writing under his hand, permits any person named therein to take the necessary steps for the formation of a trade union and if the trade union is in fact registered within six months of the permission being given.
10. (3) Any seven or more members of a trade union may by subscribing their names to the rules of the union, and otherwise complying with the provisions of this Act with respect to registration, register such trade union under this Act.
10. (4) If any of the purposes of a trade union is unlawful, the trade union shall not be registered and if registered the registration shall be void.
10. (5) In the event of any contravention of this section every secretary, trustee, member of the committee, or other officer of an unregistered trade union is liable on summary conviction to a fine of forty dollars for every day during which the trade union remains unregistered.
11. Any trade union registered under this Act may purchase or take upon lease, in the names of the trustees for the time being of the union, any land, and may sell, exchange, mortgage, or let the land, and no purchaser, assignee, mortgagee, or tenant, shall be bound to inquire whether the trustees have authority for any sale, exchange, mortgage, or letting, and the receipt of the trustees shall be a discharge for the money arising therefrom; and for the purposes of this section every branch of a trade union shall be considered a distinct union.
12. (1) All real and personal property whatsoever belonging to any trade union registered under this Act shall be vested in the trustees for the time being of the trade union, appointed as provided by this Act, for the use and benefit of the trade union and the members thereof, and the real or personal property of any branch of a trade union shall be vested in the trustees of that branch, or in the trustees of the trade union, if the rules of the trade union so provide, and be under the control of such trustees, their respective executors or administrators, according to their respective claims and interests.
12. (2) Upon the death or removal of any such trustees, the property shall vest in the succeeding trustees for the same estate and interest as the former trustees had therein, and subject to the same trusts, without any conveyance or assignment whatsoever, except in the case of stocks and securities in the public funds of Trinidad and Tobago, which shall be transferred into the names of the new trustees.
12. (3) In all actions, or suits, or indictments, or summary proceedings before any Court touching or concerning any such property, the same shall be stated to be the property of the persons for the time being holding the office of trustee, in their proper names, as trustees of the trade union, without any further description.
13. When any person being or having been a trustee of a trade union registered under this Act, or of any branch of a trade union, and whether appointed before or after the legal establishment thereof, and in whose name any stock belonging to the union or branch transferable at any bank in Trinidad and Tobago is standing, either jointly with another or others, or solely, is absent from Trinidad and Tobago or becomes bankrupt, or files any petition, or executes any deed for liquidation of his affairs by assignment or arrangement or for composition with his creditors, or becomes of unsound mind, or is dead, or has been removed from his office of trustee, or if it is unknown whether such person is living or dead, the registrar, on application in writing from the secretary and three members of the union or branch, and on proof satisfactory to him, may direct the transfer of the stock into the names of any other persons as trustees for the union or branch; and the transfer shall be made by the surviving or continuing trustees, and if there are no such trustee or if such trustees refuse or are unable to make the transfer and the registrar so directs, then by the manager of the bank; and the bank is hereby indemnified for anything done in pursuance of this provision against any claim or demand of any person injuriously affected thereby.
14. The trustees of any trade union registered under this Act, or any other officer of such trade union authorised to do so by the rules, are hereby empowered to bring or defend, or cause to be brought or defended, any action, suit, prosecution, or complaint in any Court of law or equity, touching or concerning the property, right, or claim to property of the trade union; and shall and may, in all cases concerning the real or personal property of such trade union, sue and be sued, plead and be impleaded, in any Court of law or equity, in their proper names, without other description than the title of their office; and no such action, suit, prosecution, or complaint shall be discontinued, or shall abate, by the death or removal from office of such persons or any of them, but the same shall and may be proceeded in by their successor or successors as if the death, resignation, or removal had not taken place; and such successors shall pay or receive the like costs as if the action, suit, prosecution, or complaint had been commenced in their names for the benefit of, or to be reimbursed from, the funds of the trade union, and the summons to be issued to such trustee or other officer may be served by leaving the same at the registered office of the union.
15. A trustee of any trade union registered under this Act is not liable to make good any deficiency which may arise or happen in the funds of the trade union, but is liable only for the moneys which shall be actually received by him on account of the trade union.
16. (1) Every treasurer or other officer of a trade union registered under this Act, at such times as by the rules of the trade union he should render such account as hereinafter mentioned, or upon being required to do so, shall render to the trustees of the trade union, or to the members, at a meeting of the trade union, a just and true account of all moneys received and paid by him since he last rendered the like account, and of the balance then remaining in his hands, and of all bonds or securities of the trade union, which account the trustees shall cause to be audited by some fit and proper person or persons appointed by the registrar, and the trade union shall pay such person or persons in accordance with the scale of fees prescribed by regulations made under this Act.
16. (2) The treasurer, if thereunder required, upon the said account being audited, shall forthwith hand over to the trustees the balance which on the audit appears to be due from him and shall also, if required, hand over to the trustees all securities and effects, books, papers and property of the trade union in his hands or custody.
16. (3) If the treasurer fails to do so, the trustees of the trade union may sue him in any competent Court for the balance appearing to have been due from him upon the account last rendered by him, and for all the moneys since received by him on account of the trade union, and for the securities and effects, books, papers, and property in his hands or custody, leaving him to set off in such action the sums (if any) which he may have since paid on account of the trade union; and in such action the trustees are entitled to recover their full costs of suit, to be taxed as between Attorney-at-law and client.
16. (4) The registrar may at any time order the books, accounts, vouchers, documents, securities and funds of any trade union to be inspected or audited by some fit and proper person or persons appointed by him, and the secretary, treasurer and other officers of a trade union shall make available to the person or persons so appointed all the accounts, books, documents, vouchers, securities and funds of the trade union for purposes of inspection or audit.
16. (5) The Registrar shall pay the person or persons appointed by him under subsection (4)
(a) in the case of an inspection, such fees as he may consider reasonable;
(b) in the case of an audit, in accordance with the scale of fees prescribed by regulations made under this Act.
17. If any officer, member, or other person, being or representing himself to be a member of a trade union registered under this Act, or the nominee, executor, administrator, or assignee, of a member thereof, or any person whatsoever, by false representation or imposition, obtains possession of any moneys, securities, books, papers, or other effects of the trade union, or, having the same in his possession, wilfully withholds or fraudulently misapplies the same, or wilfully applies any part of the same to purposes other than those expressed or directed in the rules of the trade union, or any part thereof, the Court of summary jurisdiction for the place in which the registered office of the trade union is situated, upon a complaint made by any person on behalf of the trade union or by the registrar, may, by summary order, order such officer, member or other person, to deliver up all such moneys, securities, books, papers, or other effects to the trade union, or to repay the amount of money applied improperly, and to pay, if the Court thinks fit, a further sum of money not exceeding one thousand dollars together with costs not exceeding five dollars; and, in default of the delivery of effects or repayment of such amount of money or payment of such penalty and costs, the Court may order the person so convicted to be imprisoned for any time not exceeding three months but
(a) nothing herein contained shall prevent the trade union from proceeding by indictment against the party aforesaid; and
(b) no person shall be proceeded against by indictment if a conviction has been previously obtained for the same offence under the provisions of this Act.
18. (1) With respect to the registration under this Act, of a trade union, and of the rules thereof, the following provisions shall have effect:
(a) an application to register the trade union and printed copies of the rules, together with a list of the titles and names of the officers, shall be sent to the Registrar;
(b) the Registrar, upon being satisfied that the trade union has complied with the Regulations respecting registrain force under this Act shall register the trade union and the rules;
(c) no trade union shall be registered under a name identical with that by which any other existing trade union has been registered, or so nearly resembling such name as to be likely to deceive the members or the public;
(d) the registrar shall not register any combination as a trade union unless in his opinion, having regard to the constitution of the combination, the principal objects of the combination are statutory objects, and may withdraw the certificate of registration of any such registered trade union if the constitution of the union, has been altered in such a manner that, in his opinion, the principal objects of the union are no longer statutory objects, or if in his opinion the principal objects for which the union is actually carried on are not statutory objects;
(e) any person aggrieved by any refusal of the registrar to register a combination as a trade union, or by the withdrawal or cancellation of a certificate of registration may appeal to the High Court within the time and in the manner and on the conditions directed by Rules of Court;
(f) where a trade union applying to be registered has been in operation for more than a year before the date of the application, there shall be delivered to the registrar before the registration thereof a general statement of the receipts, funds, effects, and expenditure of the trade union, in the same form, and showing the same particulars as if it were the annual general statement hereinafter required to be transmitted annually to the Registrar;
(g) the Registrar, upon registering such trade union shall issue a certificate of registration, which certificate, unless proved to have been withdrawn or cancelled, shall be conclusive evidence that the provisions of this Act with respect to registration have been complied with.
18. (2) The Minister may, subject to affirmative resolution of Parliament, make Regulations respecting the following matters:
(a) the registration of a trade union under this Act;
(b) the forms to be used for the registration;
(c) the seal (if any) to be used for the registration;
(d) the inspection of documents kept by the registrar under this Act;
(e) the fees (if any) to be paid on registration, and until such fees are fixed those specified in the First Schedule shall be charged;
(f) a scale of fees to be paid to the proper person or persons appointed by the registrar to audit the accounts, books, documents, vouchers, securities and funds of a trade union;
(g) generally, for carrying out this Act into effect.
19. With respect to the Rules of a trade union registered under this Act, the following provisions shall have effect:
(a) the rules of every such trade union shall contain provisions in respect of the several matters mentioned in the Second Schedule;
(b) a copy of the rules shall be delivered by the trade union to every person on demand on payment of a sum not exceeding fifty cents.
20. (1) Every trade union registered under this Act shall have a registered office to which all communications and notices may be addressed; if any trade union under this Act is in operation for seven days without having such an office, the trade union and every officer thereof is each liable on summary conviction to a fine of two hundred dollars for every day during which it is so in operation.
20. (2) Notice of the situation of the registered office, and of any change therein, shall be given to the registrar and recorded by him, and until that notice is given the trade union shall not be deemed to have complied with the provisions of this Act.
21. (1) No certificate of registration of a trade union shall be withdrawn or cancelled otherwise than by the registrar, and in the following cases:
(a) at the request of the trade union to be evidenced in the manner from time to time directed by him;
(b) on proof to his satisfaction that a certificate of registration has been obtained by fraud or mistake, or that the registration of the trade union has become void under section 10, or that the trade union has wilfully and after notice from the registrar violated any of the provisions of this Act, or has ceased to exist;
(c) under the provisions of section 18(1)(d).
21. (2) Not less than two months previous notice in writing specifying briefly the ground of any proposed withdrawal or cancelling of certificate (unless where the same is shown to have become void as aforesaid, in which case the registrar shall cancel the same forthwith) shall be given by the registrar to a trade union before the certificate of registration of the same can be withdrawn or cancelled (except at its request).
21. (3) A trade union whose certificate of registration has been withdrawn or cancelled shall, from the time of the withdrawal or cancelling, absolutely cease to enjoy as such the privileges of a registered trade union, and shall be dissolved and proceed to wind up its affairs, but without prejudice to any liability actually incurred by the trade union, which may be enforced against the same as if the withdrawal or cancelling had not taken place.
21. (4) If after the withdrawal or cancelling of the certificate a trade union continues in active operation, except for the purpose of winding up its affairs, every secretary, trustee, member of the committee, or other officer of the trade union remaining in office or taking any active part in its operations, is liable on summary conviction to a fine of forty dollars for every day during which the trade union continues in active operation.
22. A person under the age of twenty-one, but above the age of sixteen, may be a member of a trade union, unless provision is made in the rules to the contrary, and may, subject to those rules, enjoy all the rights of a member except as herein provided, and execute all instruments and give all acquittances necessary to be executed or given under the rules, but shall not be a member of the committee of management, trustee, or treasurer of the trade union.
23. A member of a trade union, not being under the age of sixteen years, may by writing under his hand, delivered at or sent to the registered office of the trade union, nominate any person, not being an officer or servant of the trade union (unless the officer or servant is the husband, wife, father, mother, child, brother, sister, nephew, or niece of the nominator), to whom all moneys payable on the death of such member, not exceeding five hundred dollars, shall be paid at his decease, and may from time to time revoke or vary the nomination by a writing under his hand similarly delivered or sent; and on receiving satisfactory proof of the death of a nominator, the trade union shall pay to the nominee the amount due to the deceased member not exceeding the sum aforesaid.
24. (1) A trade union may, with the approval in writing of the Registrar, change its name by the consent of not less than two-thirds of the total number of members.
24. (2) No change of name shall affect any right or obligation of the trade union or of any member thereof, and any pending legal proceedings may be continued by or against the trustees of the trade union or any other officer, who may sue or be sued on behalf of the trade union notwithstanding its new name.
25. Any two or more trade unions may, by the consent of not less than two-thirds of the members of each of those trade unions, become amalgamated together as one trade union, with or without any dissolution or division of the funds of such trade unions or either or any of them; but no amalgamation shall prejudice any right of a creditor of either or any union party thereto.
26. Notice in writing of every change of name or amalgamation, signed, in the case of a change of name, by seven members and countersigned by the secretary of the trade union changing its name, and accompanied by a statutory declaration by the secretary that the provisions of this Act in respect of changes of names have been complied with, and in the case of an amalgamation signed by seven members and countersigned by the secretary of each or every union party thereto, and accompanied by a statutory declaration by each or every such secretary that the provisions of this Act in respect of amalgamations have been complied with, shall be sent to the registrar to be registered, and until the change of name or amalgamation is so registered the same shall not take effect.
27. The rules of every trade union shall provide for the manner of dissolving the same and notice of every dissolution of a trade union under the hand of the secretary and seven members of the union shall be sent within fourteen days thereafter to the Registrar, and shall be registered by him.
28. A trade union which fails to give any notice, or send any document which by this Act it is required to give or send, and every officer or other person bound by the rules thereof to give or send the same, or if there is no such officer, then every member of the committee of management of the union, unless proved to have been ignorant of, or to have attempted to prevent, the omission to give or send the same is liable on summary conviction to a fine of two hundred dollars, recoverable at the suit of the Registrar or of any person aggrieved, and to an additional fine of the like amount for each week during which the omission continues.
29. (1) A general statement of the receipts, funds, effects, and expenditure of every trade union registered under this Act shall be transmitted to the Registrar before 1st June in every year, and shall show fully the assets and liabilities at the date, and the receipts and expenditure during the year preceding the date, to which it is made out of the trade union; and shall show separately the expenditure in respect of the several objects of the union, and shall be prepared and made out up to such date, in such form and shall comprise such particulars as the Registrar may from time to time require; and every member of, and depositor in any such trade union shall be entitled to receive, on application to the treasurer or secretary of that trade union, a copy of the general statement, without making any payment for the same.
29. (2) Together with the general statement there shall be sent to the Registrar a copy of all alterations of rules and new rules and changes of officers made by the trade union during the year preceding the date to which the general statement is made out, and a copy of the rules of the trade union as they exist at that date.
29. (3) Any trade union which acts in contravention of this section, and also any officer of the union so acting, is each liable on summary conviction to a fine of two hundred dollars for each offence.
29. (4) Any person who wilfully makes, or orders to be made, any false entry in, or any omission from, any such general statement or in or from the return of such copies of rules or alterations of rules, is for each offence liable on summary conviction to a fine of two thousand dollars.
30. The annual reports with respect to the matters transacted by the Registrar in pursuance of this Act shall be laid before Parliament.
31. If any person, with intent to mislead or defraud, gives to any member of a trade union registered under this Act, or to any person intending or applying to become a member of the trade union, a copy of any rules, or of any alterations or amendments thereof, other than those respectively which exist for the time being, on the pretence that the same are the existing rules of the trade union, or that there are no other rules of the trade union, or if any person with the intent aforesaid, gives a copy of any rules to any person on the pretence that the rules are the rules of a trade union registered under this Act which is not so registered, any person so offending is liable on summary conviction to a fine of four hundred dollars.
32. All offences and penalties under this Act may be prosecuted and recovered in the manner provided by the Summary Courts Act.
33. (1) The funds of a trade union shall not be applied either directly or in conjunction with any other trade union, association, or body, or otherwise indirectly, in the furtherance of any political object, other than the political objects hereinafter in this section specified, and unless the furtherance of those objects or any one or more of them has been approved as an object of the union by a resolution for the time being in force passed on a ballot of the members of the union taken in accordance with this section for the purpose by a majority of the members voting, and, where such a resolution is in force, unless rules to be approved by the Registrar are in force providing
(a) that any payments in the furtherance of those objects are to be made out of a separate fund (in this Act referred to as the political fund of the union);
(b) that a member who is exempt (in the manner hereinafter specified) from the obligation to contribute to the political fund of the union shall not be excluded from any benefits of the union, or placed in any respect either directly or indirectly under any disability or at any disadvantage as compared with other members of the union (except in relation to the control or management of the political fund) by reason of his being so exempt, and that contribution to the political fund of the union shall not be made a condition for admission to the union.
33. (2) If any member of a trade union alleges that he is aggrieved by a breach of any rule made in pursuance of this section, he may complain to the Registrar, and the Registrar, after giving the complainant and any representative of the union an opportunity of being heard, may, if he considers that such a breach has been committed, make such order for remedying the breach as he thinks just under the circumstances; and any such order of the Registrar shall be binding and conclusive on all parties without appeal and shall not be removable into any Court of law, or restrainable by injunction, and on being recorded in the Supreme Court registry may be enforced as if it had been an order of the High Court.
33. (3) The political objects to which this section applies are the expenditure of money
(a) on the payment of any expenses incurred either directly or indirectly by a candidate or prospective candidate for election to the House of Representatives or to any public office, before, during, or after the election in connection with his candidature or election;
(b) on the holding of any meeting or the distribution of any literature or documents in support of any such candidate or prospective candidate;
(c) in connection with the registration of electors or the selection of a candidate for the House of Representatives or any public office; or
(d) on the holding of political meetings of any kind, or on the distribution of political literature or political documents of any kind unless the main purpose of the meetings or of the distribution of the literature or documents is the furtherance of statutory objects within the meaning of this Act.
The expression public office in this section means the office of a member of any Municipality or of any public body who have power to raise money, either directly or indirectly, by means of a rate.
33. (4) A resolution under this section approving political objects as an object of the union shall take effect as if it were a rule of the union and may be rescinded in the same manner and subject to the same provisions as such a rule.
33. (5) The provisions of this section as to the application of the funds of a union for political purposes shall apply to a union which is in whole or in part an association or combination of other unions as if the individual members of the component unions were the members of that union and not the unions; but nothing in this section shall prevent any such component union from collecting from any of their members who are not exempt on behalf of the association or combination any contributions to the political fund of the association or combination.
33. (6) A ballot for the purposes of this section shall be taken in accordance with rules of the union to be approved for the purpose by the Registrar, but the Registrar shall not approve any such rules unless he is satisfied that every member has an equal right, and, if reasonably possible, a fair opportunity of voting, and that the secrecy of the ballot is properly secured.
34. (1) A member of a trade union shall not be required to make any contribution to the political fund of a trade union unless, before he is first required to make such a contribution, he has delivered at the head office or some branch office of the trade union, notice in writing in the form set out in the Third Schedule of his willingness to contribute to that fund and has not withdrawn the notice; and every member of a trade union who has not delivered such a notice, or who having delivered such a notice, has withdrawn it, shall be deemed for the purposes of section 33 to be a member who is exempt from the obligation to contribute to the political fund of the union, and references in that section to a member who is so exempt shall be construed accordingly.
For the purposes of this subsection, a notice may be delivered personally or by any authorised agent and any notice shall be deemed to have been delivered at the head or a branch office of a trade union if it has been sent by post properly addressed to that office.
34. (2) All contributions to the political fund of a trade union from members of the trade union who are liable to contribute to that fund shall be levied and made separately from any contributions to the other funds of the trade union and no assets of the trade union, other than the amount raised by such a separate levy, shall be carried to that fund, and no assets of a trade union other than those forming part of the political fund shall be directly or indirectly applied or charged in furtherance of any political object to which section 33 applies; and any charge in contravention of this subsection shall be void.