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SEC 2(g) "trade dispute" means any dispute between
employers and workmen, or between workmen and workmen,
or between employers and employers which is connected with
the employment or non-employment, or the terms of
employment or the conditions of labor, of any person, and
"workmen" means all persons employed in trade or industry
whether or not in the employment of the employer with whom
the trade dispute arises
Immunities available to a registered Trade Union
A registered trade union must follow the provisions of the
Trade Unions Act 1926. In particular, the following are
some restrictions in a registered trade union:
Section 17 confers immunity from liability in the case of
criminal conspiracy under section 120-B of IPC, committed
by an office bearer or a member. However, this immunity
is partial in the sense that it is available only with respect
to the legal agreements created by the members for the
furtherance of valid objects of a trade union as described
in section 15 of the act.
The immunity cannot be claimed for an act that is an

Registered Trade Unions have certain rights to do in

furtherance of their trade disputes such as calling for
strike, persuading members.

In the case of West India Steel Company Ltd. vs Azeez

1990 Kerala, a trade union leader obstructed work inside
the factory for 5 hrs while protesting against the
deputation of a workman to work another section.

It was held that while in a factory, the worker must submit

to the instructions given by his superiors.

A trade union leader has no immunity against disobeying

the orders.

A trade union leader or any worker does not have any

right by law to share managerial responsibilities.

A trade union can espouse the cause of workers through

legal ways but officials of a trade union cannot direct other
workers individually or in general about how to do their

They do not have the right to ask a worker to stop his

work or otherwise obstruct the work of the establishment.
An employer may deal with a person causing obstruction
in work effectively.
Section 18 confers immunity from civil proceedings in
certain cases to a trade union or its office bears or

In general, a person is liable in torts for inducing another

person to breach his contract of employment or for
interfering with the trade or business of another.

However, a trade union, its officers, and its members are

immune from this liability provided that such an
inducement is in contemplation or furtherance of a trade
dispute. Further, the inducement should be lawful. There is
no immunity against violence, threats, or any other illegal
In the case of P Mukundan and others vs Mohan Kandy
Pavithran 1992 Kerala, it was held that strike per se is not
an actionable wrong. Further, it was held that the trade
union, its officers, and its members are immune against
legal proceedings linked with the strike of workmen by the
provisions of section 18.
In the leading case of Rohtas Industries Staff Union vs
State of Bihar AIR 1963, it was held that employers do not
have the right to claim damages against the employee
participating in an illegal strike and thereby causing loss of
production and business.
In the case of Simpson & Group Companies Workers &
Staff Union vs Amco Batteries Ltd 1992 Karn., it was held
that physical obstruction of movement of management

officials, contractors, goods, or vehicles carrying raw

materials, is not a trade union right or a fundamental right
under art 19. Immunity under section 18 cannot be
claimed for such activities.
Right to picket is a very intangible right and it extends
only up to the right of free movement of others. The
methods of persuasion are limited to oral and visual and
do not include physical obstruction of vehicles or persons.
Section 19 Enforceability of agreements - In India, an
agreement in restraint of trade is void as per section 25 of
Indian Contract Act. However, such an agreement
between trade union members is neither void nor
voidable. It is important to note that this right is available
only to registered trade unions. An unregistered trade
union must follow the principles of general contract law.