Industrial Relations

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Conceptual Framework of Employment Relations



After going through this unit, you should be able to:
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explain the historical perspective of industrial relations in India; appreciate the impact of globalisation, technological changes, and other forces on industrial relations; identify the issues and challenges confronting industrial relations in India.


2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 Introduction Industrial Relations in India Government’s Role Current Developments Industrial Relations Scenario Issues and Challenges Summary Self-Assessment Questions Further Readings



In order to understand the issues and problems associated with industrial relations, it is desirable to study its various evolutionary phases. Practically speaking, the growth of industrial relations in India is in no way different from that of other parts of the globe. The various stages of industrial relations progressed from primitive stage to factory or industrial capitalism stage. The emergence of tripartite consultative system and voluntary and statutory approach to industrial relations, immensely contributed to the growth of a particular system of industrial relations in our country. Also the fast changing technological development, industrial production techniques, and ideological values have brought forth in the industrial world a unique type of employer-employee relationship. For a proper theoretical perspective of industrial relations, it seems essential to have a historical review of industrial relations in India.



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India was greatly advanced in the field of industry and commerce in the past, as evidenced from its ancient literature. In ancient times, the highest occupation in our country was agriculture followed by trading. Manual services formed the third rung of occupation. Small manufacturers in their cottages, mostly on hereditary basis, carried on a large number of occupations. Ancient scriptures and laws of our country laid emphasis on the promotion and maintenance of peaceful relations between capital and labour. From the very early days, craftsmen and workers felt the necessity of being

united. The utility of unions has been stated in Sukla Yajurveda Samhita, “if men are united, nothing can deter them.” Kautilyas’s Arthashastra gives a comprehensive picture of the organisation and functions of the social and political institutions of India and a good description of unions of employees, craftsmen or artisans. There were well-organised guilds, which worked according to their own byelaws for the management of the unions. However, there were no organisations of workers during the Mughal rule. The labourers were entirely dependent on their masters and forced work was taken from them. Historical evidence further shows the existence of rules of conduct and prescribed procedure for the settlement of disputes for promoting cordial relations between the parties. The working relations, however, in those days were more or less of a personal character and are very much distinguishable from the present-day industrial relations as have gradually developed with the growth of largescale industries. A study of modern industrial relations in India can be made in three distinct phases. The first phase can be considered to have commenced from the middle of the nineteenth century and ended by the end of the First World War. The second phase comprises the period thereafter till the attainment of independence in 1947, and the third phase represents the post-independence era. First Phase: During the first phase, the British Government in India was largely interested in enforcing penalties for breach of contract and in regulating the conditions of work with a view to minimising the competitive advantages of indigenous employers against the British employers. A series of...
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