India is a huge economic powerhouse, holds the exponential capability to achieve its existence in being economic power in the globalized market. These economic activities also do come with disputes which affect the markets of those Industries from where the hope of economic development is predicted. In an industry, there is a constant tussle between the Capital (employer) and the Labor (employee), to eradicate such tussle and putting an end of such disputes the law which has been placed is the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 [ID Act]. The act has been enacted with the purpose of setting aside the industrial disputes between the employer and the employee and other such special provisions in regard to strikes, lock-out and retrenchment within the Industry.
The labourer, on the other hand, maintain a strong unity by forming Unions, wherein their interest pertaining to safety and security of the employer is constantly a part of its agenda. Thus, there is a constant tussle between the employer and the employee.
What is an Industry?
As per Section 2(j) of the ID Act, Industry means any business, trade, undertaking, manufacture or calling of employers and includes any calling, service employment, handicraft, or industrial occupation or avocation of workmen.
The definition has been further extend as in Bangalore Water Supply v/s A. Rajappa [AIR 1978 SC 548] which has established a triple test for knowing a “industry” in an enterprise., whereby there must be (i) systematic activity, (ii) organized by co-operation between employer and employee (the direct and substantial element is chimerical), (iii) for the production and/or production and/or distribution of goods and services calculated to satisfy human wants and wishes. This is known as triple test.
The following points were also emphasized in this case:
- Industry does not include spiritual or religious services or services geared to celestial bliss, e.g., making on a large scale, prasad or food.
- Absence of profit motive or gainful objective is irrelevant, be the venture in the public, joint, private or other sector.
- The true focus is functional and the decisive test is the nature of the activity with special emphasis on the employer-employee relations.
- If the organization is a trade or business it does not cease to be one because of philanthropy animating the undertaking.
What may come up as an Industrial Dispute?
As per definition under section 2(k) wherein, “industrial dispute” means any dispute or difference between employers and employers, or between employers and workmen, or between workmen and workmen, which is connected with the employment or non-employment or the terms of employment or with the conditions or labour, of any persons.
An industrial dispute may arise due to any issues relating to the terms of service, employment period, salary and remunerations and expulsion of the employee from the industry.
These has been pointed out under Schedule II Part 1 where the following issues are considered eligible for adjudication in labour court:
- The propriety or legality of an order passed by an employer under the standing orders;
- The application and interpretation of standing orders;
- Discharge or dismissal of workmen including reinstatement of, or grant of relief to, workmen wrongfully dismissed;
- Withdrawal of any customary concession or privilege;
- Illegality or otherwise of a strike or lock-out; and
- All matters other than those specified in the Third Schedule.
Besides, the above definition, the Act, compromises under Schedule II, whereby 16 laws on which an industrial dispute can be raised either by the employer or employee the Acts are:
- The Trade Union Act, 1926 (16 of 1926).
- The Payment of Wages Act, 1936 (4 of 1936).
- The Factories Act, 1948 (63 of 1948).
- The Minimum Wages Act, 1948 (11 of 1948).
- The Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948 (34 of 1948).
- The Employees’ Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 (19 of 1952).
- The Working Journalists and other Newspaper Employees (Conditions of Service) and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1955 (45 of 1955).
- The Motor Transport Workers Act, 1961 (27 of 1961).
- The Maternity Benefits Act, 1961 (53 of 1961).
- The Payment of Bonus Act, 1965 (21 of 1965).
- The Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966 (32 of 1966).
- The Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970 (37 of 1970).
- The Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 (39 of 1972).
- The Sales Promotion Employees (Conditions of Service) Act, 1976 (11 of 1976).
- The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 (25 of 1976).
- The Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979 (30 of 1979).
What preliminary action is taken to resolve Industrial Disputes?
The workman can raise their issues by calling strikes through legal ways to put forward their issues. Though the act insures that, strikes are not be called by the workman and the issues to resolved by methods of conciliations between the parties.
An Industrial Dispute can also arise from the behest of the employer during a lock-out period where the employers starts to shut off operation of its primary economic activity which may hit employees because of lay-offs within the entity.
A workman or through a Union may call for a strike but have to notify for such strike to the employer before 6 weeks before the day of such strike. The employer shall after this, may refer the issue through an application to the concerned labour office. Similarly, the employer during a lay-off my through an application notify the labour office with all details and procedure to be followed by the employer for the benefit of the employee during the lay-off period.
The labour office may conciliate in such matters of industrial dispute and may prefer the resolution through conciliation (by a conciliation officer or formation of a Board or through arbitration) or through the labour courts or Industrial Tribunals or National Industrial Tribunals in the State.
Labour Courts, Industrial Tribunal & National Industrial Tribunal.
The Labour courts, industrial tribunal and the National Industrial Tribunal are formed to end an industrial dispute through hearing both the parties in such disputes. For this, after raising of the dispute, the conciliating officer if unable to solve the dispute of the workman or the union it may refer the dispute before the Labour Court or the Tribunal for adjudication.
Another method of arbitration is preferred by the parties if, a proper arbitration agreement has been formulated between the employer and employee.
The workman are given protection on conditions of services and other benefits as laid down under section 33 of the Act, while the dispute is under adjudication before the labour court or tribunal and for any contravention of such protection, the employer will be punished.
The foundation of labour laws and the maintenance of employer and employee relation takes a industry a way ahead. Though the employer and the employee in putting forward their interest before each other bring up the disputes and the object of placing of Industrial Dispute Act is to resolve such dispute. The tools used by the either party either through strike or lock-out are legitimized so that it may not harm the interest of the other economically, but a fair system of raising an issue or industrial dispute is established.