Made by Sharath chandra das Bba(be) 4531/09

The concept of WPM rests on the principle of partnership between workers and management  The idea of associating labour with management has been enshrined in the Directive principles of the State Policy in the Indian Constitution  Article 43 (A) directs the State “to take steps by suitable legislation or in any other way, to secure the participation of workers in the management of undertakings, establishments and other organisation engaged in any industry.”  The Industrial Policy Resolution of April 1956, made it clear that “in a socialist democracy, labour is a partner in the common task of development and should participate in it with enthusiasm…”




The Second Five Year Plan which was released the same year, identified the creation of industrial democracy as a pre requisite for the establishment of a socialist society. Detailing advantages of workers’ participation in management, the plan envisaged that such a measure would help in: Promoting increased productivity for the general benefit of the enterprise, the employees and the community Giving employees a better understanding of their role in the working of industry and of the process of production Satisfying the workers’ urge for self expression, thus leading to industrial peace, better relations and increased co-operation.


In the Third Five year Plan, it was stated “The success or failure of an undertaking is not the concern of the mgmt alone. For the peaceful evolution of the economic system on a democratic basis, it is essential that WPM should be accepted as a fundamental principle and urgent need.”


A study group consisting of representatives of employers, workers and Govt. under the Chairmanship of Mr. Vishnu Sahai (1957) launched the JMC in public sector undertakings on a voluntary basis. The objective was to improve working conditions, productivity, communication, general administration, labor laws, collective agreements, encouraging suggestions from workers and creating in them a sense of participation. In 1970, the govt also suggested workers directors on the Board of Directors in some public & private sector industries. In 1973 such Workers Directors were appointed on the Boards of various nationalized Banks.

WPM IN INDIA  Scattered attempts were made in October 1975 to introduce workers’ participation in industry at shop floor & plants level in all mfg & mining units employing 500 or more workers.  In 1983, after reviewing various schemes of workers participation, the Govt introduced a comprehensive scheme of workers participation in Central PSU’s.  It ensures “adequate representation for women… where women workers constitute 10% or more of the total workforce.”

The Bombay Industrial Relations Act, 1946 made a statutory provision for establishment of joint committees at the plant level to maintain regular channels of communication between employers & employees.  The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 envisages the creation of Works Committee in each unit consisting of representatives of workmen & employers with more or less equal representation.  The scope of Works committee is very restricted. But in some cases, these committees deal production problems – a role assigned to JMCs in the draft model agreement.


National Commission on Labour found that Works Committees have not been effective. State Govts have expressed the views that the advisory nature of the recommendations, vagueness regarding their exact scope & functions, inter-union rivalries, union opposition & reluctance of employers to utilize such media have rendered Works Committees ineffective. The employers’ associations have attributed the failure to factors like: 1. Inter-union rivalries 2. Union antipathy 3. Attitude of members (workers’ wing) in trying to raise in the committee discussion, on extraneous issues. According to the unions, conflict between union jurisdiction & the jurisdiction of the works committees & the unhelpful attitudes of the employers have generally led to their failure.


A more responsive attitude on the part of management. Adequate support from unions. Proper appreciation of the scope & functions of works committees. Whole-hearted implementation of the recommendations of the works committees. Proper coordination of the functions of the multiple bipartite institutions at the plant level now in vogue.


The 3rd Plan proposed as a major programme for its five year period “the progressive extension of the scheme of JMC to more industries & units so that, in course of a few years, it may become a normal feature of the industrial system.” The 3rd Plan document went on to say “for the peaceful evolution of the economic system on democratic basis, it is essential that workers’ participation would be accepted as a fundamental principle & urgent need.” It added JMCs should be set up in all the establishments as well as private sectors in which conditions favourable to the success of the scheme exists.


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The draft plan of 1966-71 assigned the following functions to Joint councils: Matters in which responsibility is entrusted to them, specially administration of welfare measures, supervision of safety measures, operation of vocational training & apprenticeship schemes, preparation of schedules of working hours & breaks & of holidays & payments of rewards, for valuable suggestions. Matters in which workers have a right to receive information, discuss and offer suggestions. Matters in which they expect to be consulted. Thus, the area of operation of JMC was not clearly laid down.


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The accepted functions of JMC can be summed up under 3 broad heads: Consultation Information Administration It can be consulted for various matters & given information of general economic situation of the undertaking, production & sales programme etc. The administrative responsibility to be entrusted include supervision of welfare measures & safety measures, the operation of vocational training & apprenticeship schemes, preparation of schedules of working hours etc.

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