Reading Comprehension - Unions

Develop your reading skills. Read the following text and do the comprehension questions

Trade / labor unions

Trade unions or labor unions first appeared in Europe as a result of the industrial revolution. Workers were at the mercy of the employer. They were underpaid, lacked any sort of training, and sometimes mistreated. When trade unions emerged, they became powerful organizations. Workers got together and organized themselves to make sure that employers do not exploit them any more.

Strike leaderNowadays, the main goal of trade unions is to negotiate labor contracts with employers. The leaders of trade unions speak on behalf of workers and are predominantly worried about wages, working conditions and the laws that govern the hiring, firing and promotion of workers. In some cases unions may call for strikes to force employers to negotiate a deal or they may promote political legislation favorable to the interests of their members or workers as a whole. To achieve this aim they may support and get closely linked to particular political parties.

Some people blame unions for creating tense atmosphere between employers and employees. Others even accuse them of engendering relentless inflation. But the truth is that the working conditions have changed tremendously since the industrial revolution. Unions have contributed to considerably improve the standard of living. For instance, child labor is now prohibited by law. What is more, unions have also been credited for introducing minimum wage limits and for forbidding disreputable employers to exploit and mistreat their workers.

Source: Wikipedia


  1. Workers
    a. were well treated during the industrial revolution
    b. had hard times during the industrial revolution.
  2. Strikes are a way to
    a. force employers to accept negotiation.
    b. cause disturbance and damage at the work place.
  3. Trade unions
    a. never have any relationship with politics
    b. may be linked to politics.
  4. Trade unions
    a. are responsible for much of the social unrest.
    b. have improved the workers' standard of living.

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