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Strikes: Pressurization From The Employers And Workers

In today's time when the world is going through significant changes and developments in a variety of fields, especially in the commercial sector which has witnessed the establishment of various industries, companies and organizations, the rational progression would dictate that along with development and increase of various industries and organization there would also be a drastic increase in the workforce required to run such industries, therefore not only has there been an increase in employers but there has also been an increase in the employees or the workers which are only natural because these two go hand in hand as without an employer there would be no employee.

This status or power possessed by the employer may lead to certain issues or points of contention with the employee or the worker, therefore it is necessary that there is some kind of process or activity available to the employers which they can rely upon to raise their issues or demand any kind of change in their respective company or industry, this exact function is performed by the process of strikes or lockouts.

Strikes or lockouts can be considered as power or weapon vested with the employers or workers available against their employers, while strikes or lockouts are the primary or the most renowned processes employed by the workers, they are not the only remedies available to the workers or employees, there are a number of remedies which constitute the much wider and broad concept of pressurization from the employers and workers.

Owning to the substantial number of developments that have taken place in the recent years in the commercial sector there has also been a rise in various types of industrial disputes between the workers and the employer while carrying out their respective activities and duties. There is not a single primary cause of industrial disputes, there may be a number of factors that are either collectively or individually responsible for the occurrence of disputes in the industrial areas. Some of these factors may be as follows; -demanding hike/increase In wages, allowances, demand for any kind of disciplinary action against any violence or indiscipline, demand for increasing bonus or casual /paid leave, etc.

In the situation where an industrial dispute arises due to any of the aforementioned factors, in such situations, an effort is made by both the management and the workers to try to pressurize each other for the purpose of getting their respective demands fulfilled. As a means of redressing their concerns, employees might use a number of pressurization tactics such as strikes, work-to-rule, go-slow, gherao, and so on.

Similarly, management may use pressure tactics such as lockouts to get workers to return to work. Strikes in no way are the first option preferred by the likes of any workers or employers, employers whether formal or informal may take the option of alternate dispute resolution processes to resolve their disputes, collective bargaining being one of such processes.

It is only after the fact when no solution is obtained by the resolution process the workers or employers may conduct a strike to pressurize their employer to accept their demands and resolve their disputes. It is also important to note that the any acts employed by the workers to pressurize their employees are not arbitrary in nature and all these processes have been provided with a proper legal substantiation along with the rules and regulations which are to be followed when carrying out such acts

Strikes
Strikes in simple terms can be defined as a process that involves the workmen of a specific company collectively stopping their work with the purpose with the intention of making the company/employer adhere to their demands. The industrial act primarily deals with the majority of the pressurization tactics utilized by the employees and they also provide a proper definition for such acts. Under section 2(q) Industrial disputes act, 1947 strike is defined as "a cessation of work by a body of persons employed in any industry acting in combination, or in concerted 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".[1]

Another definition for the concept of the strike was provided in the industrial relations code 2020, even though the older definition of the concept was satisfactory in the sense that it covered most of the important aspects related to strikes, after the number of changes and developments in the recent years it was essential that a new and developed definition of the strike was provided which would be in line with the current commercial sector.

S. 2 (zk) Industrial relations Code 2020 provides the new definition of strike, under this section, it has been stated that A "strike" is defined as a stoppage of work by a group of people employed in the same industry acting together, or a concerted refusal, or a refusal, under a common understanding, of any number of people who are or have been employed in the same industry to continue to work or accept employment, and includes concerted casual leave by 50% or more workers employed in the same industry on a given day.[2]

Strikes were not always considered to be a popular choice among the workers or employees it was only during the industrial revolution that the process or act of performing strikes gained some kind of notoriety, the reason for such rise in significance of strikes during this period is because it was during this time frame when mass labour became important in factories, mines, and industries and the reason for that is because more commercial activities were being carried out to cater to the growing demands of the developing worlds as a result of growing commercial activities more workers and employees were required and since there were more workers, strike performed by them would have more impact.

Due to the increase in the number and power of the workers, the act of strikes was made illegal in many countries, since the factory owners wield more political clout than the workers. Most western countries partially legalized striking in the late 19th or early 20th centuries as the rights of workers started to be recognized by the government of various countries.

While there is a definition of a strike laid down in the industrial relation code 2020, there are still a number of ways to describe what a strike is. Strikes are more than often called in to deal with and address the grievances of the employee, the strike leads to complete cessation of work for a temporary amount of time and is caused by employees' widespread refusal to work.
A strike occurs when a group of employees leaves their jobs in order to exert pressure on their employers to capitulate or accept their demands during an industrial dispute. But regardless of how the term strike is defined, there are still certain important ingredients and factors which should be present or fulfilled to constitute a strike.

These essential ingredients are as follows:
  • Cessation of work.
  • Cessation of work must be by the body of workers employed in any industry
  • They must be acting in combination
  • Employed in an industry (defined under the act)
  • Must be a concerted refusal to work or
  • Refusal under a common understanding.

For a better understanding of the concept of strike and its prerequisite, essential one can take the reference of the case of Standard vacuum oil Co., Madras V. Gunaseelam, M.G.
The facts of the case are as follows, in the present, there was a group the workers belonging to a specific company who wanted to take a day's leave to celebrate the occasion of "May day" and since they were deciding to take a day off, to make up for the losses of the company for the day of "may day" the set of workers were even willing to make up by working extra hours and requested their employer for declaring it a holiday.

However, all of the requests and demands of the workers were met with a deaf ear and Because the employer neglected to declare "May Day" as a holiday, the employees asked for leave on purpose. It was decided that because there was no "cessation of work" or coordinated refusal to work, employees' applications for casual leave did not qualify as a strike.[3]

Different types of strikes
Stay-in, sit-down, pen-down strike
Strikes are not of just one type infact they can be categorized into various different, such as stay-in, sit down and pen-down strikes. This set of strikes is also often referred to as "tool-down strikes" and the reason behind that is because in these types of strikes the workers involved do not carry out their respective duties even when they have control over the production facilities.

The specific aspect of these kinds of strikes which make them distinct from a normal strike is the fact in these types of strikes the workers show up for work but refuse to work and refuse to leave their workplace. Such efforts make it difficult for employers to ignore or oppose the union's demands, forcing them to embrace them. For example, in 1998, all municipal corporation employees in Punjab went on a pen-down strike to protest the state government's refusal to accept their requests.

Go-Slow

As the name of the term suggests in this kind of strike the workers involved do not actively disassociate themselves from their work instead they continue to perform their respective duties, which raises the question of how the strike would have the intended effect of no harm or loss is being incurred by the employers and the answer to the question is that while the workers do perform their duties they perform them at a very slow pace or rate which has a direct effect on the output of the company as the lower down production and cause loss to the employer.

Due to its distinct nature, the Go-slow strike has not been given the distinction of A STRIKE u/s 2(q) of the ACT because in order to be recognized as a strike under the industrial relations code it is imperative that there is some kind of cessation of work which is not the case with glow slow strike.

Work To Rule
Work to rule strike is another strike that has not been recognized as a strike under IR code because during these types of strikes, workers scrupulously follow the regulations while completing their responsibilities, which they would not normally do. There is no work stoppage, hence it is not a strike.

Conclusion
After looking into and analyzing various aspects associated with strikes it could be stated or concluded that strikes have time and again proven to be a very apt method chosen by the workers or employers to apply some kind of pressure from their side so as to compel the employer to adhere to their demands. The concept of the strike has gone through a number of developments throughout the years which has also brought about many changes in its utilization and scope.

End-Notes:
  1. Industrial dispute act, 1947
  2. Industrial relations Code 2020
  3. Standard vacuum oil Co., Madras V. Gunaseelam, M.G., (1954)2 LLJ 1956(LAT)

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