Industrial disputes are the disputes
which arise due to any disagreement in an industrial relation. The term
'industrial relation' involves various aspects of interactions between
the employer and the employees; among the employees as well as between
the employers. In such relations whenever there is a clash of interest,
it may result in dissatisfaction for either of the parties involved and
hence lead to industrial disputes or conflicts. These disputes may take
various forms such as protests, strikes, demonstrations, lock-outs, retrenchment,
dismissal of workers, etc.
Some of the important causes of an industrial
- Demand for higher wages and allowances.
- Demand for payment of bonus and determination
of its rate thereof.
- Demand for higher social security
- Demand for good and safer working
conditions, including length of a working day, the interval and frequency
of leisure and physical work environment.
- Demand for improved labour welfare
and other benefits. For example, adequate canteen, rest, recreation
and accommodation facility, arrangements for travel to and from distant
- Besides, poor personnel management;
conflicting legislative measure or government policies; and psychological
factors such as denial of opportunity to the worker for satisfying his/
her basic urge for self-expression, personal achievement and betterment
may also result in labour problems.
In India, the
Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 is the main legislation for investigation
and settlement of all industrial disputes. The Act enumerates the contingencies
when a strike or lock-out can be lawfully resorted to, when they can be
declared illegal or unlawful, conditions for laying off, retrenching,
discharging or dismissing a workman, circumstances under which an industrial
unit can be closed down and several other matters related to industrial
employees and employers.
The Act is administered by the Ministry
of Labour through its Industrial
Relations Division. The Division is concerned with improving the institutional
framework for dispute settlement and amending labour laws relating to
industrial relations. It works in close co-ordination with the Central
Industrial Relations Machinery (CIRM) in an effort to ensure that
the country gets a stable, dignified and efficient workforce, free from
exploitation and capable of generating higher levels of output. The CIRM,
which is an attached office of the Ministry of Labour, is also known as
Labour Commissioner (Central) [CLC(C)] Organisation. The CIRM is headed
by the Chief Labour Commissioner (Central). It has been entrusted with
the task of maintaining industrial relations, enforcement of labour laws
and verification of trade union membership in central sphere. It ensures
harmonious industrial relations through:-
- Monitoring of industrial relations
in Central Sphere;
- Intervention, mediation and conciliation
in industrial disputes in order to bring about settlement of disputes;
- Intervention in situations of threatened
strikes and lockouts with a view to avert the strikes and lockouts;
- Implementation of settlements and
According to the Act, the term '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 of labour, of any person". The basic objectives
of the Act are:-
- To provide a suitable machinery for
the just, equitable and peaceful settlement of industrial disputes.
- To promote measures for securing and
preserving amity and good relations between employers and employees.
- To prevent illegal strikes and lockouts.
- To provide relief to workers against
layoffs, retrenchment, wrongful dismissal and victimisation.
- To promote collective bargaining.
- To ameliorate the conditions of workers.
- To avoid unfair labour practices.
Under the Act, a statutory machinery
has been constituted for conciliation and adjudication of industrial disputes.
- The Act provides for appointment of 'Conciliation Officers',
by appropriate Government, charged with the duty of mediating in and
promoting the settlement of industrial disputes. He/ she may be appointed
for a specified area, or for specified industries in a specified area,
or for one or more specified industries, either permanently or for a
limited period. It is the duty of these officers to bring both the employees
and employers together and help them to resolve their differences. If
the dispute is settled, he/ she shall send a report, to that effect,
to the appropriate Government.
- The appropriate Government may,
as occasion arises, constitute a 'Board of Conciliation', which shall
consist of a chairman and two or four other members, as the appropriate
Government thinks fit. The Chairman shall be an independent person
and the other members shall be persons appointed in equal numbers
to represent the parties to the dispute. Where a dispute has been
referred to a Board, it shall, without delay, investigate the dispute
and do all such things as it thinks fit for the purpose of inducing
the parties to come to a fair and amicable settlement of the dispute.
- The appropriate Government may, as
occasion arises, also constitute a 'Court of Inquiry' to inquire into
any matter appearing to be connected with or relevant to an industrial
dispute. It shall, thereafter, report about it to the Government ordinarily
within a period of six months from the commencement of its inquiry.
Such a court may consist of one independent person or of such number
of independent persons as the appropriate Government may think fit
and where it consists of two or more members, one of them shall be
appointed as the chairman.
- The appropriate Government may constitute
one or more 'Labour Courts' to adjudicate industrial disputes relating
to any matter specified in the second schedule like issues related
to standing orders, discharge or dismissal of workers, illegality
or otherwise of strikes and lockouts, withdrawal of any customary
benefit, etc. and to perform such other functions as may be assigned
to them under the Act. A labour court shall consist of one person
only to be appointed by the appropriate Government.
- The appropriate Government may constitute
one or more 'Industrial Tribunals' to adjudicate industrial disputes
relating to any matter, whether specified in the second schedule or
third schedule, and to perform such other functions as may be assigned
to them under the Act. A tribunal shall consist of one person only
to be appointed by the appropriate Government. The third schedule
covers the matters such as wages, bonus, allowances and certain other
benefits, certain working conditions, discipline, rationalisation,
retrenchment and closure of establishment.
- The Central Government may, by notification
in the Official Gazette, constitute one or more 'National Industrial
Tribunals' to adjudicate an industrial dispute which, in the opinion
of the Central Government, involve questions of national importance
or are of such a nature that industrial establishments situated in
more than one State are likely to be interested in, or affected by,
such disputes. Such a tribunal shall consist of one person only to
be appointed by the Central Government.
- The Act also makes it obligatory
for an employer to set up a 'Grievance Settlement Authority (GSA)' in
an industrial establishment in which fifty or more workers have been
employed in the preceding twelve months. This authority shall have the
responsibility to settle industrial disputes concerning an individual
worker employed in that establishment.
No reference can be made under the
Act to Conciliation Boards, Labour Courts or Industrial Tribunals, unless
the dispute has first been the subject of a decision of a Grievance
Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, the Central Government is the appropriate
Government for investigation and settlement of industrial disputes in
regard to the departmental undertakings of the Central Government, major
ports, mines, oil fields, cantonment boards, banking and Insurance Companies,
Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), Industrial Finance Corporation
of India Limited, the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited, the Indian
Airlines, Air India, the Airport Authority of India and all air transport
services. While in relation to other industrial establishments, the State
Government is the appropriate Government.
Government Industrial Tribunals (CGITs) -cum- Labour Courts have been
set up in different parts of the country. There are at present 17
CGITs to whom industrial disputes could be referred for adjudication.
These CGITs-cum-Labour Courts are at New Delhi , Mumbai (2 CGITs ), Bangalore,
Kolkata, Asansol, Dhanbad (2 CGITs ), Jabalpur, Chandigarh, Kanpur, Jaipur,
Lucknow, Nagpur, Hyderabad, Chennai and Bhubaneshwar. Out of these CGITs,
2 CGITs namely Mumbai-I and Kolkata have been declared as National Industrial
Besides, the Organization
of the Chief Labour Commissioner( Central) acts as the primary conciliatory
agency in the Central Government for industrial disputes. There are the
Labour Commissioners (Central) and Assistant
Labour Commissioners (Central) who on behalf of the Chief Labour Commissioner
(Central) act as Conciliatory Officers in different parts of the country.