Discussion of Indian labour law and industrial relations is commonly divided
into separate time periods, reflective vital stages within the evolution of the
Indian state moreover as stages of economic development and policy.
1955, Ornati recommended 3 key periods in the evolution of Indian labour law to
it purpose of your time.
The earliest regulation was largely designed as labour management ,but this was
eventually accessorial to by a sequence of factory-type regulation,
providing for a few basic levels of protection, between the Eighteen
Eighties and also the Nineteen Thirties. This
legislation basically mirrored AN accommodation of types between the interests
of British business, seeking protection for its domestic enterprises against low
cost foreign labour,and Indian social reformers out to up what were thought to
be sub-human working conditions in Indian factories. In the read of some
commentators, this early amount of labour law reform was for the most part formal or unimportant constituting solely a minimum of interference with
the operating conditions of labour and also the relationship between
the leader and the worker.
A play (1937-1947), Ornati suggests, was additional inventive, and
commenced with the emergence of Provincial Autonomy within the last half of
the Nineteen Thirties, the main focus of the Indian Congress Party on workers
rights (including such matters as standards of living, trade unionrights, the
proper to strike so on), and also the introduction of bigger uniformity through
the extension of geographic point regulation.
The playing period in Ornatis analysis begins with the critical
post-Independence legislation of the Jobs and staff in Asian nation
The Workmens Breach of Contract Act 1859
The Employers and Workmens Act 1860
The legal code 1860.
Ornatis analysis would counsel that there was
nothing terribly eventful regarding early Indian labour law, however others have
argued that there was vital progress created in labour legislation within
the immediate post-World War One amount, inform specifically to the influence
of many International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions and also the Royal
Commission on Labour within the Twenties as major advances.
For the needs of gift discussion we tend to propose to look at the evolution of
labour law in India, and also the restrictive policy related to it, across six
In the terribly early stages of British colonial management, there was very
little attention paid to the lega lorganisation of labour by the authorities.
Labour organisation and also the production process remained, aside from a
number of exceptions, a matter of family, land and cultural regulation .The
earliest British rules associated with staff within the government service, as
well as the military, and forced labour for the performance of structure.
However, as we've got noted in short higher than, from the Eighteen
Eighties ahead there was a succession of legislative interventions by the
colonial government, principally in relevancy the use of girls and kids,
and regarding hours of labour, in factories and mines.
Industrial Disputes Act, 1947
Objective and scope of the Act The first enactment dealing with the settlement
of industrial disputes was the Employers and Workmens Disputes Act, 1860.
This Act weighed much against the workers and was therefore replaced by the
Trade Disputes Act, 1929.
The Whitely Commission made in this regard the perceptive observation that the
attempt to deal with unrest must begin rather with the creation of an atmosphere
unfavourable to disputes than with machinery for their settlement.
Then followed the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. The Industrial Disputes Act,
1947 makes provision for the investigation and settlement of industrial disputes
and for certain other purposes.
It ensures progress of industry by bringing about harmony and cordial
relationship between the employers and employees. This Act extends to whole of
The Act was designed to provide a self-contained code to compel the parties to
resort to industrial arbitration for the resolution of existing or apprehended
disputes without prescribing statutory norms for varied and variegated
industrial relating norms so that the forums created for resolution of disputes
may remain unhampered by any statutory control and devise rational norms keeping
pace with improved industrial relations reflecting and imbibing socio-economic
The Act applies to an existing and not to a dead industry. It is to ensure fair
wages and to prevent disputes so that production might not be adversely affected
· The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 came into existence in April 1947. It was
enacted to make provisions for investigation and settlement of industrial
disputes and for providing certain safeguards to the workers.
· Industrial Dispute
means any dispute 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.
· Indian trade disputes act,1929 was the first legislation in India for
the settlement of industrial disputes. Initially, the act was made to remain in
force for 5 years. In 1932 certain amendments were carried out in the act in
1934, in consultation with the provincial governments, the central governments
made the act to remain in permanent force. this act, inter alia, provided for
the settlement of disputes by appointment of court of inquiry and board of
conciliation upon an application to the government by any party in disputes.
The illegal strikes were banned under the act.
· In 1938, Bombay industrial development act was enacted. Under this
act, an inquiry was made compulsory before declaration of strikes or lock-outs.
This was made, In fact, to ensure uninterrupted working of industries
Subsequently, after the outbreak of world war-2, defiance India rule( DIR ) was
enforced In 1939. under section 81a of DIR, strikes and lock-outs were banned
in the public utility services. In other establishments, prior notice was
compulsory for strikes or lock-out.
Objective of Industrial Disputes Act
Act to make provision for the
investigation and settlement of industrial disputes, and for certain other
purposes. whereas it is expedient to make provision for the investigation
and settlement of industrial disputes, and for certain other purposes here in
The preamble to the act reads thus, an act to make provision for the
investigation and settlement of industrial disputes and for certain other
on the basis of various judgments given from time to time by the supreme court,
the principal objective of the act may be stated as below:
a) To ensure social justice to both employers and employees and advance progress
of industry by bringing about harmony and cordial relationship between the
b) To settle disputes arising between the capital and labour by peaceful methods
and through the machinery of conciliation, arbitration and if necessary, by
approaching the tribunals constituted under the act.
If disputes are not settled, it would result in strikes or lock-outs and entail
dislocation of work, essential to the life of the community.
c) To promote measures for securing and preserving amity and good relations
between the employer and workmen.
d) To prevent illegal strikes and lockouts.
e) To provide compensation to workmen in cases of layoff, retrenchment and
f) To protect workmen against victimizations by the employer and to ensure
termination of industrial dispute in a peaceful manner.
g) To promote collective bargaining.
Definitions Of Industrial Disputes Act
As per section 2(K) industrial disputes means any disputes or difference
between employers and employers, or between employers or workman, or between
workman and workman, which is connected with the employment or non employment or
with the conditions of labour, or of any person.
The above definition of industrial disputes brings out the following essential
1) There should be a disputes or difference;
2) The disputes or difference may be between:
a) employer and employer, or
b) employer and workman, or
c) workman and workman.
3) The disputes or difference may be connected with:
a) employment, or
b) non employment, or
c) the terms of employment , or
d) conditions of labour of any person, and
4) The disputes should relate to a industry.
Definitions of industry (section 2)
industry is defined I the oxford dictionary as diligent or systematic
. Section 2(J) of he act defines industry as follows:
means any business, trade, undertaking, manufacture or
calling of employers and includes any calling, service, employment, handicraft
or industrial occupation or vocation of workmen.
from the above definition, industry appears to mean:
1) A business, such as merchandising,
2) A trade, such as cutler,
3) A manufacture, such as flour milling
4) An undertaking, such as electricity company,
5) A calling, such as architect,
6) A services, such as transporter, or
7) An employment, which is a general term covering. Perhaps, the rest of
Definition of workman section 2(s) workman
is defined in section 2(s) of the act as follows:
workman means ay person ( including a apprentice) employed I any industry to
do any manual, unskilled, skilled technical operational, clerical or supervisory
work for hire reward, whether the terms of employment be express or implied ad
for the purposes of an proceeding under this act in relation to an industrial
disputes, include any such person, who has been dismissed, discharged or
retrenched I connection with or as a consequence of that disputes or whose
dismiss discharge or retrenchments has led to that disputes, but does not
include ay such person-
1) Who is subjects to the air force act,1950 the navy act, 1957;or
2) Who is employed in police services or as an officer or other employee of a
prison ; or
3) Who is employed mainly a managerial or administration capacity; or
4) Who, being employed in a supervisory capacity, draws wag exceeding one
thousands six sundered rupees per men exercises, either by the nature of the
duties attached to the officer or by reason of the powers vested in him,
functions mainly of managerial nature.
The definition of workman has three essential parts:
i. Statutory meaning of workman;
ii. Legal fiction, and
iii. Categories of persons excluded.
Definition of strikes
As per section 2(Q) strikes means cessation of work by a body of persons
employed In an industry acting in combination or a concerned refusal or a
refusal under a common understanding of any number of persons who are or have
been so employed to continue to work or to accept employment.
The essential ingredients of the definitions are:
1) There must be cessation of work;
2) The cessation of work must be by a body of persons employed in any industry,
as defined in section 2(j) of the act;
3) The strikes must have been acting in combination, or
4) There must be concerted refusal; or
5) Refusal under a common understanding of any number of persons who are or have
been so employed to continue to work or o accept employment.
strikes is weapon I the hands of workman or employees, as tactic in bargaining.
Strikes may be the form of general strikes, go slow, stay in, sit down,
pen-down, tool down, work-to-rule, gherao, hunger strikes9 or sympathetic
strikes. however ,
In strikes, the workmen have intention to resume to the work. Mere absence from
work does not amount to taking part in strike within the meaning of the
industrial act, 1947. there should be some evidence to show that absence from
the duty was the result of some concert between him and other persons that they
would not continue to work it is also necessary that should e log hours of
strikes. Stoppage ad refusal to work, even for a few hours only, would amount to
a strikes, when there was a concert ad combination of the workers in stopping
and refusing to work.
Definition of lock-outs
As per section 2(I)Lock-out means the temporary closing of a place of employment
or the suspension of work or the refusal by an employer to continue to employ
any number of persons employed by him.
The definition of lock-out has three ingredients:
1) There should be temporary closing of place of employment, or
2) There should be suspension of work, or
3) There should be refusal to continue to employ any number of persons employed
by the employer.
4) lock-out is an antithesis to strike. It is a weapon I the hands of the
employer, as a tactic in bargaining. Lock-out is not a closure in lock-out the
employer does have intention to continue business, if the workman accept his
There is no severance of employer-employee relationship it, rather,
indicates existence of a industrial disputes. Lock-out is not a fundamental
right of an employer.
Definition of appropriate government
Section 2(a) defines appropriate government in vey specific terms. It means:
(a) in relation to any industrial disputes concerning any industry carried on by
or under the authority of the central government or by a railway company or
concerning any such controlled industry such as may be specified or in relation
to an industrial disputes concerning a banking or an insurance company, a
mine, or an oil field, or a major port, the central government; and
(b) in relation to any other industrial disputes, the state government.
The central government is the appropriate government for:
Any industry carried on by under the authority of the central government;
any industry carried on by a railway company;
The Indian airlines and air India corporation;
The agricultural refinance corporation;
The deposit insurance corporation;
· The unit trust of India;
· A banking company;
An insurance company;
· An oil-field;
A cantonment board;
A major port;
carried on by or under the authority of the government' means either the
industry carried on directly by a department of the government such as posts
and telegraphs or the railways or one carried on by such department through any
Authorities Under The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947
# The Acts provides an elaborative and effective machinery for bringing about
Industrial Peace by setting up the following Authorities for the Investigation
and Settlement of industrial Disputes.
# Courts of enquiry
# Work committee
# Conciliation proceedings
# Labour courts
# Industrial and national tribunal (procedures, powers and duties)
Courts of Enquiry
(1) The appropriate Government may as occasion arises by notification in the
Official Gazette, constitute a Court of Inquiry for inquiring into an matter
appearing to be connected with or relevant to an industrial dispute
(2) A Court may consist of one independent person or of such number of
independent persons as the appropriate Government may think fit and where a
Court consists of two or more members, one of them shall be appointed as the
(3) A Court, having the prescribed quorum, may act notwithstanding the absence
of the chairman or any of its members or any vacancy in its number:
Provided that, if the appropriate Government notifies the Court that the
services of the Chairman have ceased to be available, the Court shall not act
until a new chairman has been appointment
1. In the case of any industrial establishment in which one hundred
or more workmen are employed or have been employed on any day in the preceding
twelve months the appropriate Government may by general or special order require
the employer to constitute in the prescribed manner a Works Committee consisting
of representatives of employers and workmen engaged in the establishment so
however that the number of representatives of workmen on the Committee shall not
be less than the number of representatives of the employer.
2. It shall be the duty of the Works Committee to promote measures
for securing and preserving amity and good relations between the employer and
workmen and, to that end, to comment upon matters of their common interest or
concern and endeavour to compose any material difference of opinion in respect
of such matters.
# The appropriate Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette,
appoint such conciliation officers, charged with the duty of mediating in and
promoting the settlement of industrial disputes.
# A conciliation officer may be appointed for a specified area or for
specified industries in a specified area or for one or more specified industries
and either permanently or for a limited period.
# The appropriate Government may as occasion arises by notification in the
Official Gazette constitute a Board of Conciliation for promoting the settlement
of an industrial dispute.
# A Board shall consist of a chairman and two or four other members, as the
appropriate Government thinks fit.
# The appropriate Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette,
constitute one or more Labour Courts for the adjudication of industrial disputes
relating to any matter specified in the Second Schedule and for performing such
other functions as may be assigned to then, under this Act.
# A Labour Court shall consist of one person only to be appointed by the
# The Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 came into force with effect from
22.8.1996. It consolidates and amends the law relating to domestic arbitration,
international commercial arbitration and enforcement of foreign arbitral
# It applies to the whole of India. It applies to the State of Jammu and
Kashmir to the extent of the provisions relating to enforcement of foreign
awards, which apply in full, other provisions apply insofar as they relate to
international commercial arbitration or conciliation. The Act is based on the
conciliation rules adopted by the United Nations Commission on International
What Is Arbitration?
Arbitration is a process of dispute resolution in which a neutral third
party (called the arbitrator) renders a decision after a hearing at which both
parties have an opportunity to be heard. It is the means by which parties to a
dispute get the same settled through the intervention of a third person, but
without having recourse to court of law.
The appropriate Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette,
constitute one or more Industrial Tribunals for the adjudication of industrial
disputes relating to any matter and for performing such other functions as may
be assigned to them under this Act.
A Tribunal shall consist of one person only to be appointed by the appropriate
According to Section 7 of the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947 the appropriate
government has the authority to appoint the tribunals for adjudicating on the
matters of industrial dispute .Generally a tribunal is appointed for
adjudicating on the matters which have failed to form a solution through the
other machinery of conciliation authorities .These Tribunals are somewhat
different from courts though they have been empowered to adjudicate on
(1) The Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette,
constitute one or more National Industrial Tribunals for the adjudication of
industrial disputes 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.
(2) A National Tribunal shall consist of one-person only to be appointed by the
(3) A person shall not be qualified for appointment as the presiding officer of
a National Tribunal unless he is, or has been, a Judge of a High Court.
(4) The Central Government may, if it so thinks fit, appoint two persons as
assessors to advise the National Tribunal in the proceeding before it.
Procedure of Industrial And National Tribunals
(1) Subject to any rules that may be made in this behalf, an arbitrator, a
Board, court, Labor Court, Tribunal or National Tribunal shall follow such
procedure as the arbitrator or other authority concerned may think fit.
(2) A conciliation officer or a member of a National Tribunal may for the
purpose of inquiry into any existing or apprehended industrial dispute, after
giving reasonable notice, enter the premises occupied by any establishment to
which the dispute relates.
3) Every Board, court, National Tribunal shall have the same powers as are
vested in a Civil Court under the Code of Civil Procedure,1908 (5 or 1908), when
trying a suit, in respect of the following matters, namely:-
(a) enforcing the attendance of any person and examining him on oath;
(b) compelling the production of documents and material objects;
(c) issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses;
(d) in respect of such other matters as may be prescribed, and every inquiry or
investigation by a Board, court, National Tribunal, shall be deemed to be a
judicial proceeding within the meaning of sections 193 and 228 of the Indian
Penal Code (45 to 1860).
(4) A conciliation officer may enforce the attendance of any person for the
purpose of examination of such person or call for and inspect any document which
he has ground for considering to be relevant to the industrial dispute or to be
necessary for the purpose of verifying the implementation of any award or
carrying out any other duty imposed on him under this Act, and for the aforesaid
purposes, the conciliation officer shall have the same powers as are vested in a
civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908).
(5) A court, Labor Court, Tribunal or National Tribunal may, if it so thinks
fit, appoint one or more persons having special knowledge of the matter under
consideration as an assessor or assessors to advise it in the proceeding before
(6) All conciliation officers, members of a Board or court and the presiding
officers of a Labor Court, Tribunal or National Tribunal shall be deemed to be
public servants within the meaning of section 21 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of
(7) Subject to any rules made under this Act the costs of, and incidental to,
any proceeding before a National Tribunal shall be in the discretion of that
National Tribunal, and the National Tribunal, as the case may be, shall have
full power to determine by and to whom and to what extent and subject to what
conditions, if any, such costs are to be paid, and to give all necessary
directions for the purposes aforesaid and such costs may, on application made to
the appropriate government by the person entitled, be recovered by that
government in the same manner as an arrear of land revenue.
(8) Every National Tribunal shall be deemed to be civil court for the purposes
of sections 345, 346, and 348 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of
Powers of National Tribunal
Where an industrial dispute relating to the discharge or dismissal of a workman
has been referred to a National Tribunal for adjudication and, in the course of
the adjudication proceedings, the National Tribunal, as the case may be, is
satisfied that the order of discharge or dismissal was not justified, it may, by
its award, set aside the order of discharge or dismissal and direct
reinstatement of the workman on such terms and conditions,
if any, as it thinks fit, or give such other relief to the workman including the
award of any lesser punishment in lieu of discharge or dismissal as the
circumstances of the case may require:
that in any proceeding under this section the National Tribunal, as
the case may be, shall rely only on the materials on record and shall not take
any fresh evidence in relation to the matter.
Matters With In The Jurisdiction Of Industrial Tribunals (Section 7A)
1. Wages, including the period and mode of payment;
2. Compensatory and other allowances;
3. Hours of work and rest intervals;
4. Leave with wages and holidays;
5. Bonus, profit sharing, provident fund and gratuity;
6.Shift working otherwise than in accordance with standing orders;
7. Classification by grades;
8. Rules of discipline;
10.Retrenchment of workmen and closure of establishment;
11. Any other matter that may be prescribed.
Machinery Provided For Settlement of Industrial Dispute Act, 1947
Works Committee - Section.3
Conciliation Officer - Section.4
Board of Conciliation - Section.5
Courts of Enquiry - Section.6
Labour Courts - Section.7
Industrial Tribunal - Section.7A
National tribunal - Section.7B
Works committee - Section.3
Conciliation Officer Section.4
Appointed by the appropriate Government.
Duty: Settlement of industrial disputes.
Nature: Appointed for a specified area or for specified industries in a
specified area or for one or more specified industries in a specified area or
for one or more specified industries and either permanently or for a limited
An industrial dispute may be defined as a conflict or difference of opinion
between management and workers on the terms of employment. It is a disagreement
between an employer and employees' representative; usually a trade union, over
pay and other working conditions and can result in industrial actions.
When an industrial dispute occurs, both the parties, that is the management and
the workmen, try to pressurize each other. The management may resort to lockouts
while the workers may resort to strikes, picketing or gheraos.
It ensures harmonious relations through:
a) Monitoring of industrial relations in Central Sphere.
b) Intervention, mediation and conciliation in industrial disputes in order to
bring about settlement of disputes.
c) Intervention in situations of threatened strikes and lockouts with a view to
avert the strikes and lockouts.
d) Implementation of settlements and awards.
Industrial Tribunals are independent judicial bodies that hear and determine
claims to do with employment matters. These include a range of claims relating
to unfair dismissal, breach of contract, wages/other payments, as well as
discrimination on the grounds of sex, race, disability, sexual orientation, age,
part time working or equal pay.
The Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, constitute
one or more National Industrial Tribunals for the adjudication of industrial
disputes 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,
Written By: Prashant Chaturvedi