Trade unions began to develop into organizations in the world in the age of capitalism with the purpose of improving of working and living conditions of workers. The first trade unions were formed in England, France, the USA. In the middle of the 17-th century trade unions were formed in Germany, Spain, Belguim and other countries. The trade unions had been formed much earlier than the parties of the working class were formed and on this reason their development was being carried out mainly in the reformism orientation. In Russia the trade unions were formed in the age of the revolution in 1905-1907.
In Armenia the first trade unions were formed in 1905-1907 in Yerevan, Alexandropol, Kars, Alaverdi. In 1905 the trade union of home-workers was formed in Yerevan. In 1906 the trade unions of the tanner-workers (Yerevan), the rail-way workers (Alexandropol, Kars), the miners (Alaverdi), the typists, the bakers, the post-office workers (Yerevan) were formed.
In Armenia the trade unions began to be spread on a mass scale in 1921. On 6 February 1921 in Yerevan at the first Conference the Council of trade unions of Armenia was formed and G.Azatyan was elected the first secretary, G.Anesoglyan was elected secretary. In the summer 1921 provincial trade union bureaus were formed in Alexandropol, Bayazet, Dilizhan, Karaklis, Yerevan. In 1921 16 000 industrial and office workers affiliated in the trade unions.
The 1-st Congress of the trade unions of Armenia took place on 22 August 1921, 206 delegates took part in its work. The mobilization of the workers on the implementation of the plans of national economy by means of spreading of the socialist competition, regulation of the issues of the protection of the interests of workers, their social insurance, health and pension provision were recognized as the main tasks of the trade unions.
At the end of 1922 the trade unions of education, communication, tanner-workers, metal- workers, municipal workers, construction workers, food industry workers, rail-way workers, type-setters, sewing workers, typists and health workers were finally formed in the republic.
In 1924 the republican trade unions aimed their force on the rehabilitation of the main branches of the heavy industry.
In 1939 plenary sessions of some branch trade unions of Armenia took place where the questions of the developing of the country defense and trade union activity in this direction were discussed.
The activity of the trade unions of Armenia during the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945) was considerable. On 29 June 1941 the Central Committee of All-Union Communist Workers Party and the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR appealed to the party, soviet, trade union and komsomol organizations with the directives letter with the demand of the reorganization of the work in accordance with the war-time. In the leading article of “Pravda” newspaper on 21 September 1941 “The war and the trade unions” the concrete tasks of the trade unions were formulated. On the very first days of the war meetings were held in many towns, region centers and villages. Many leading employees of the staff of the Council of trade unions of Armenia and republican trade union committees went to the front on a voluntary basis. The republican trade union organizations took part in the military-defense activity thus rendered great support to the front.
In the post-war years the number of trade union organizations and active-members increased. If in 1949 there were 2576 primary trade union organizations and they consolidated 161200 members, then in January 1951 there were 3191 organizations with total number of 207118 trade union members. In accordance with the Labour Code of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic the trade unions were given certain rights.
The trade unions represented the interests of the workers and industrial workers in industry, labour, culture spheres. They also participated in the working out and implementation of the plans of economic and social development, organized socialist competitions, mass technical work, promoted the strengthening of the industrial and labour discipline. The trade unions carried out the control over the observance of the Labour Code and labour safety, controlled the providing the workers and civil workers with flats and improving their living conditions, governed the system of social insurance, sanatoriums, dispensaries and health resorts, cultural, tourist, sport institutions, children (pioneer) camps.
On the state on 1 January 1974 the council of trade unions of Armenia had 1 200000 trade union members which were united in 20 branch republican committees and 8135 primary organizations. In 1980 trade unions affiliated more than 1 380000 members, in fact they united nearly all the people who worked in industry and agriculture. During these years the republican trade unions involved 24263 trade union groups, 6617 industrial committees, 9563 factory and plant, 242 district and town, 21 branch republican committees.
The earthquake in 1988 which covered 40% of the territory of the republic with the population of 1 million people razed to the ground 17% of the housing fund of the republic and 400000 people became homeless. The Council of trade unions of Armenia organized the evacuation of the people from the disaster area. The trade unions of all the republics of the former USSR gave a helping hand to the trade unions of Armenia and due to it 120000 children, women and elderly people were accommodated in these republics in the different sanatoriums, health-resorts, children’s camps and provided with everything required.
After the collapse of the USSR difficult situation arose in the republic as 90% of all the industrial enterprises had an all-union status, they used imported raw materials and delivered their production to the all-union consumers’ market. Near 120000 workers were occupied in the light industry enterprises, more than 54000 people worked in 253 scientific-research and designing organizations and were the part of the all-union scientific-industrial complex.
The fundamental changes took place at the beginning of 1990 in political, economic and spiritual life of the society and the changes of the system of the state governing and the form of property, connected with the transmission from planning economy to market relations, brought to the social-economic crisis with all the consequences.
Mass unemployment brought to the growing of migration, especially of highly skilled scientists and engineers. In 1991-1996 nearly 650000 people left the country. In 2000 there were 173000 unemployed in the republic. The social-political situation in the republic demanded the deep changes in the trade union movement.
The 18-th Congress of trade unions of Armenia (1992) which was attended by 335 delegates, especially mentioned the fact that the principles of democratic centralism as well as command methods of governing no longer correspond to the changed conditions, new labour relations and the democracy development. On the assumption of these facts 24 branch republican trade unions signed the Declaration on the foundation of the Confederation of trade unions of Armenia.
The 18-th Congress of trade unions of Armenia took place on 10 January 1992. At its sessions the activity carried out after 17-th Congress and the questions of renovating of trade union movement in the republic were discussed. Taking into consideration the new demands of the current situation and realizing the responsibility of trade unions in the issue of the protection of labour, social-economic, professional and other interests of workers in the conditions of market relations, the Congress makes a decision – to dismiss the Republican Council of trade unions of Armenia. The Congress came to the decision to preserve the delegates and working bodies of the 18-th Congress in the same position as they had been – the delegates and the working bodies of the 1-st Congress of the Confederation of trade unions of Armenia.
The chairpersons of the 24 branch republican trade unions signed the Declaration on the foundation of the Confederation of trade unions of Armenia. The Congress approved the fundamental principles of the foundation and the procedure of the activity, the Regulations for the Auditing Commission.
On 29 April 1997 the 2-d Congress of the Confederation of trade unions of Armenia took place which considered the report of the Council of the Confederation of trade unions of Armenia on the activity carried out between the 1-st and 2-d Congresses.
The same Congress amended and supplemented the CTU Constitution and the Regulations for the Auditing Commission.
After coming into force of the new Civil Code on 1 January 1999 the necessity of the registration of all the unions in the State Register was arisen as well as of the trade union
organizations as non-governmental organizations. On this purpose 26 December 2000 the 2-nd (extraordinary) Congress of the Confederation of trade unions of Armenia was convened which considered and adopted the Constitution of the “Confederation of trade unions of Armenia” the union of legal persons.
On 5 December 2000 the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia adopted the Law “On Trade Unions” which was necessary for bringing the activity of the Confederation of trade unions of Armenia, the union of legal persons into accordance with the requirements of the law. With the same aim the 24 branch unions held their Congresses, were registered in the State Register as the branch republican unions of the professional organizations. Only having passed all these procedures it became possible to convene the 2-d (extraordinary) Congress of the Confederation of trade unions of Armenia, the union of legal persons and the 1-st (Constituent) Congress of the “Confederation of trade unions of Armenia) the republican union of professional organizations.
The Congress adopted the Declaration on the foundation of the new union and on the convening of the 1-st Congress of the Confederation of trade unions of Armenia, the republican union of professional organizations.
The Congress considered this event as historical because the Confederation of trade unions of Armenia for the first time had to act in accordance with the law on trade unions which determined the order of the foundation of trade unions, the principles of their activity and their interactions with the state bodies, the institutions of local government, with legal and physical persons and also to regulate the interactions of the trade unions with their members in the issue of the protection of their rights and interests The Constitution of the Confederation of trade unions of Armenia, republican union of professional organizations, the Regulations for the Auditing Commission and the Activity Plan were adopted by the same Congress. In 2002 the Confederation of trade unions of Armenia affiliated 24 branch republican unions, 6641 primary trade union organizations, 544182 trade union members.
The changes took place on the labour market which promoted the privatization, the rapid rise of the private sector could not help affecting the trade union activity. On very this reason the active participation in the foundation of the legal base in the sphere of the labour relations has become the paramount task of the Confederation of trade unions of Armenia.
The activity of the Confederation of trade unions of Armenia became more efficient after the approval in 2004 the new Labour Code which regulates collective and individual labour relations, rights and obligations of two parts, their responsibility, as well as the securing of safety and health of workers.
On 26 November 2007 the 2-d Congress of the Confederation of trade unions of Armenia took place , 119 delegates participated in its work. The Congress discussed the report of the “Confederation of trade unions of Armenia” republican union of professional organizations on the activity carried out in between 2002-2007 and the guidelines for the activity in 2008-2012. The Congress amended the Constitution of the “Confederation of trade unions of Armenia” republican union of professional organizations, approved the Activity Plan of the CTU in 2008-2012 and the Regulations for the Auditing Commission of the CTU.
On 23 November 2012 the 3-d Congress of the Confederation of trade unions of Armenia was held. Eduard Tumasyan was reelected Chairman of the CTUA, Boris Kharatyan and Khachik Arakelyan were reelected Deputy Chairmen.
According to 2017 data 19 branch republican unions are affiliated with the CTUA which comprise 641 trade union organizations with 191098 total number of members.