Industrial Dispute Act

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Industrial Disputes Act -1947

The conflict between the industrialists (employers) and labourers (employees) is inherent in a democratic and an industrial society. Economic progress of a country largely gets obstructed by the industrial conflicts; therefore ‘industrial peace’ is desired.

It is a reality that no rule, regulation or legislation can eliminate the industrial conflicts permanently; however a quest for industrial harmony is indispensable when a country plans to make industrial and economic progress.

Industrial Disputes Act was enacted to provide a machinery and forum for the settlement of conflicting interests without disturbing the peace and harmony in industry and assuring undisturbed industrial growth which is required for the industrial development of the country.

The Act aims to ensure social justice to both employers and employees and accelerates industrial progress by bringing about harmony and cordial relationship between parties.

Machinery under the Act

Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 has provided for an elaborate machinery for the settlement of disputes:

1) Works Committee
2) Conciliation Officer
3) Board of Conciliation
4) Courts of Enquiry
5) Labour Courts
6) Tribunals
7) National Tribunal
8) Grievance Settlement Authority
9) Voluntary Arbitration

OBJECT: To make provisions for the investigation and to prevent and resolve industrial disputes; and to secure good relations between workers and management, for the common good.

The Act is a benign measure which seeks to pre-empt industrial tensions, provide the mechanics of disputes resolution and assurance of industrial justice to create a climate of goodwill amongst the parties.

Industry – Sec. 2(j)

“Industry” means any business, trade, undertaking, manufacture or calling of employers and includes any calling, service, employment, handicraft or industrial occupation or a vocation of workmen.

The term ‘industry has been defined in most wide terms and anything and everything seems to have been included. In fact the term is described as it cannot be defined strictly.

Here the definition of ‘workman’ as given u/s 2(s) also needs to be understood. ‘Workman means any person (including an apprentice) employed in any industry…..’ Therefore if ‘workman’ is absent, the workplace cannot be termed as industry within the meaning of the definition u/s. 2(j).

It is to be noted that the activities like agricultural, domestic work, religious rituals, charitable activities, sovereign functions etc. do not fall under the term ‘industry’.

Several courts and even the Supreme Court, on several occasions gave rulings including all activities within the ambit of Sec. 2(j).

In Bangalore Water Supply Board v. A. Rajappa, (1978), the seven-judge bench was constituted to review all the earlier cases and explained the meaning of the term Industry.

SC has given a wide coverage to ‘industry’ and activities like education, charitable institutions (excluding strictly the spiritual ones), recreational and research institutions, hospitals etc. come within the nexus of ‘industry’ if they satisfy the requisite test.

From the ruling given in this case, generally , the following points should be taken into consideration while construing the term ‘industry’:

a) Cooperation of employers and the employees
b) Object is the satisfaction of material needs
c) It must be an organised or well arranged activity
d) must not be casual nor for oneself nor for pleasure of oneself e) Absence of profit motive is irrelevant.

All the judges of the SC in the case of Bangalore Water Supply Board expressed the view that the matter should be clarified by the legislature. Hence, the Amendment Act of 1982 has re-defined the term. (It has not been brought into effect till date).

Industrial Dispute – Sec. 2(k)

• Any dispute or difference between :

i. Employers and...
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