The Mongolian Trade Unions originated in 1927. In 1989 it included 600,000 members, grouped into four categories of trade unions: industry and construction; agricultural workers; transportation, communications, trade, and services; and culture and enlightenment. Trade union organizations ran production and training conferences, and they participated in collective agreements between the managements of enterprises and trade union committees. They also articulated issues of concern to the work force, supervised social insurance programs, and oversaw the observance of labor legislation. These and other powers were vested in law, particularly in the National Labor Law (see Labor Force , ch. 3). Schools run by labor organizations focused on improving the qualifications and vocational education of factory and office workers.
The highest body in the organizational structure of the labor unions was the Congress of the Mongolian Trade Unions, which elected a central council and an auditing commission. In 1989 the Central Council of the Mongolian Trade Unions was chaired by BatOchiryn Lubsantseren, also a member of the party Central Committee and the Presidium of the People’s Great Hural. A presidium—composed of the chairman of the Central Council of the Mongolian Trade Unions, a deputy, and two secretaries—and a four-person secretariat provided the leadership for the subordinate trade union councils and committees. About 3,000 committees operated at the primary factory level. The composition of the trade unions in the late 1980s was 50 percent industrial workers, 30 percent office and professional workers, and 20 percent agricultural workers. In a population that was 58 percent working class, and in a work force that was 95 percent unionized by 1984, trade unions played an important role. How well they performed was another question. At a party Central Committee plenary session in December 1988, the Central Council of the Mongolian Trade Unions was criticized for not adequately protecting workers’ interests. The Mongolian Trade Unions was affiliated with the Soviet-sponsored World Federation of Trade Unions.