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Industrial Disputes

Industrial Disputes

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Published by: Ajeet Krishna Moorthy on Aug 23, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Lesson: 36
One step further: Industrial disputes
Topics to be covered:
Parties to Industrial disputes
Severity or Effects
Weapons used by labour 
Weapons used by management
Living without disputes: Measures to improve Industrial RelationsToday we are going to discuss the concept of 
Industrial Dispute
. We will also be studying the severity of disputes,What is a dispute for you?It is a conflict, clash of ideas, a disagreement etc. New let us understand a dispute from an industrial point of view.The
definition of Industrial disputes
is as follows:According to Section 2(k) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 "industrial dispute" is defined as,
"Any disputes or differences 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." 
Does this sound very confusing?Let me simplify this for you.Let us understand that the definition identifies three parties to disputes. They are:(i)
Employers and Employers
Employers and Workmen(iii) Workmen and Workmen
Industrial dispute is disagreement and difference between two disputants, namely,
labour and management
.This disagreement or difference could be on any matter concerning them individually or collectively. It must beconnected with employment or non-employment or with the conditions of labour.I hope you have understood.It should also be noted that, the subject- matter of an industrial dispute must be
, i.e
which affects therelationship of employers and workers.
 Let us now understand the severity of industrial disputes
It is self-evident that industrial disputes and industrial unrest are symptoms of a lack of co-operative spirit andof harmonious relations in industry. I am sure you all will agree that the manifestation of these symptomscauses stoppage of work or disruption of production and all consequential evils. The continued and prolongedindustrial unrest also has serious consequences for the
and also for the
at large.From the point of view of the
, an industrial dispute resulting in stoppage of work means a stoppage of  production.Please understand that this results in the increase in the average cost of production since fixed expensescontinue to be incurred. It also leads to a fall in sales and the rate of turnover, leading to a fall in profits. The
may also be liable to compensate his customers with whom he may have contracted for regular supply. Apart from the immediate economic effects, loss of prestige and credit, alienation of the labour force,and other non-economic, psychological and social consequences may also arise. Loss due to destruction of  property, personal injury and physical intimidation or inconvenience also arises.For the
, an industrial dispute entails loss of income. The regular income by way of wages andallowance ceases, and great hardship may be caused to the worker and his family, many times resulting indeprivation, mal-nutrition, even starvation or near-starvation. The ability of trade unions to provide for theneeds of striking workers, particularly in India, is very limited. Employees also suffer from personal injury, andthe psychological and physical consequences of forced idleness. The threat of loss of employment in case of failure to settle the dispute advantageously, or the threat of reprisal action by employers also exists.Don’t you think that the psychological effects can be more dangerous than the physical consequences?Prolonged stoppages of work have also an adverse effect on the
 productivity, national income. Theycause wastage of national resources. Class hatred may be generated resulting in political unrest and disruptingamicable social relations or community attitudes.
I am sure that all of you will agree with me that it would not be wrong to say that:
“Industrial disputes are symptoms of industrial unrest in -the same way that boils are a symptom of adisordered body”(Patterson)
 Now let us understand the
weapons used by labour
during times of industrial disputes.Whenever industrial disputes arise, workers generally resort to one or more of the following weapons,namely, strike, boycott, picketing and gherao. Let us discuss them one by one.
) Strike
. When workers collectively cease to work in an industry, it is known as strike. Strike can be definedaccording to the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 as:"It means a cessation of work by a body of persons employed in an industry acting in combination; or aconcerted refusal of any number of persons who are or have been so employed to continue to work or toaccept employment; or a refusal under a common understanding of any number of such persons tocontinue to work or to accept employment".I hope all of you understand the meaning of cessation .It means stoppageFor trade unions, strike is the most powerful weapon for forcing the management to accept their demands.Are you aware of the various types of strikes?Strikes can be divided into two categories. They are:
Primary strikes
Secondary strikes
The primary strikes are:
 Economic Strike
Most of the strikes of workers are for more facilities and increase in wage levels. Ineconomic strike, the labourers demand increase in wages, travelling allowance, house rent allowance,dearness allowance and other facilities such as increase in privilege leave and casual leave.
General Strike
It means a strike by members of all or most of the unions in a region or anindustry. It may be a strike of all the workers in a particular region of industry to force demandscommon to all the workers. It may also be an extension of the sympathetic strike to expressgeneralised protest by the workers.
 Stay-in Strike
In this case, workers do not absent themselves from their place of work when they are on strike. They keep control over production facilities. But do not work.Such a strike is also known as 'pen down' or 'tool down' strike.
 Now pleas don’t tell me that you are going on a pen down strike!
 Slow Down Strike
Employees remain on their jobs under this type of strike. They do not stop work,

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