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-by Prof. Priyanka Desai Grims
Background to Trade Union Legislation in India:
In India, labour organizations came into existence in the last decade of the 19th Century. But they appeared in their modern form only in 1914. Their numbers increased, their membership expanded and they became active in seeking to promote and safeguard the interest of workers. But they had to face hostilities from the employers and the public authorities.
The legality of trade unions was doubted.
They were perceived as bodies trying to restrain others from exercising a lawful profession, trade, or business.
For example, the Indian Penal Code and the Indian Contract Act were interpreted against them. As a result, members of trade unions who were pursuing their rights were severely punished. The scenario was so because at that time, the Common Law was applicable to the trade unions. They did not have a separate legislation governing them. Strong demands were made for legislation recognizing workers’ right to organize and engage in concerted activities. In 1921, Mr. N.M. Joshi, the then General Secretary of AITUC, moved a resolution that the Legislative Assembly adopted. The resolution urged the Government to take immediate steps for registration of trade unions and protection of the legitimate trade union activities. The local state Governments were requested to ascertain the view of public bodies and private persons on issues like the proposed legislation, recognition of strikes, protection of trade unions from civil and criminal liabilities, management of unions, etc.
After receiving the feed-back from the local State Governments. The Act came into force on 01-Jun-1927. . with subsequent amendments. The Bill was passed in 1926 and the Trade Union Act came into existence. is still in force in the country. The Act. the Government of India drew up a Bill that was introduced in the Legislative Assembly on 31Aug-1925.
the Bill was passed on 13Nov-1947. The Bill was referred to the Select Committee for their vetting and suggestions. the Trade Unions (Amendment) Bill was put before the Central Legislature. To this end. 1947: The issue of employers’ reluctance in recognizing trade unions was felt since the very enforcement of the Act. The Bill provided for the compulsory recognition of registered trade unions. in 1946. . On the basis of their recommendations. Efforts at Amendments: Trade Unions (Amendment) Act. The Governor General of India gave his consent on 20-Dec-1947.
the trade union could approach the Labour Court. The executive of a recognized trade union was empowered to act as an authorized bargaining agent of the employees and negotiate with the employers. Introduced penalties for certain unfair labour practices by recognized trade unions as well as employers. it could pass an order directing such recognition. the Act has not been brought into force so far. . In case such recognition could not be received within three months. A registered trade union could apply for recognition to the employer. Provided for compulsory recognition of trade unions on the basis of certain prescribed conditions. However. If the Labour Court believed that the trade union fulfilled conditions of recognition.
the Trade Union Bill was introduced in the Parliament on 23-Feb-1950. This Bill too was referred to the Select Committee who submitted their report on 01-Dec-1950. The Bill: Provided for the registration and recognition of trade unions. Recognized unfair labour practices. The Bill was discussed at the 10th session of the Indian Labour Conference in March 1950. Trade Unions Bill. 1950: On the basis of these discussions. Defined the law relating to registered and recognized trade unions. The Bill lapsed owing to the dissolution of the Parliament. .
in consultation with the State Governments. 1978: The first National Commission on Labour (1969) gave certain recommendations. and Reduction in the proportion of outsiders in the executive of trade unions. employers’ and workers’ organizations. . This Bill also could not be passed. formed a comprehensive Industrial Relations Bill in 1978. Modifications in the procedures for registration and cancellation of registration.Industrial Relations Bill. But the Bill could not be passed Trade Unions (Amendment) Bill. On the basis of these recommendations. the Central Government. 1982: This Bill contained: Provisions relating to machineries for the resolution of inter and intra-union disputes.
Trade Unions (Amendment) Act. 2001: The broad features of the amending Act of 2001 are: Requirement of 10% or 100 workmen (whichever is less) employed in an establishment or industry with a minimum of 7 workmen as members for being eligible for registration as workers’ trade union in place of only 7 persons provided for earlier. unorganized. and other workers. . and subsequent maintenance of this membership after registration Election of members of executive and office-bearers at an interval of not more than 3 years Prescribing minimum subscriptions for rural.
generally 50% in the organized sector. whichever is less. and Debarring members of Council of Ministers or persons holding office of profit in the Union or State (excluding those persons who are employed in an establishment or industry with which the trade union is connected) from membership of the executive or other office-bearer of a registered trade union. . Designation of appellate courts. Limiting the proportion of outsiders to 1/3rd of the total number of office-bearers or 5.
The Act was passed to regulate: Conditions governing the registration of trade unions. 1926 Introduction The Act came into force on 01-June-1927.The Trade Unions Act. and since 1970 also includes Jammu and Kashmir. Obligations imposed on registered trade unions. . and Rights and liabilities of registered trade unions The Act extends to the whole of India.
of any person. or Between employers and employers. or the conditions of labour. . or for imposing restrictive conditions on the conduct of any trade or business. or Between workmen and workmen. It includes any federation of two or more trade unions. 2(g)]: Means any dispute Between employers and workmen. Trade Union [Sec. or Between workmen. or Between employers and employers.Definitions: Trade Dispute [Sec. or The terms of employment. whether temporary or permanent. which is connected with the employment or non-employment. formed Primarily for the purpose of regulating the relations Between workmen and employers. 2(h)]: It means any combination.
apply for registration. the Additional Registrar and Deputy Registrar for the state. The state government also defines the local limits within which these persons will exercise and discharge the powers and functions so specified. Registration of trade unions: [Sec. 4-5] Application: Any seven or more members of a trade union may by subscribing their names to the rules of the trade union and by otherwise complying with the provisions of the Act with respect to registration. and if need be.3] The state government appoints the Registrar.Appointment of Registrars: [Sec. .
The application has to be accompanied by: A copy of the rules of the trade union. and If the trade union has been in existence for more than one year before making such application. The titles. occupations and addresses of the members making the application. The application has to be made to the registrar of trade unions. . ages. The names. names. The name of the trade union and the address of its head office. addresses and occupations of the officers of the trade union. then a general statement of its assets and liabilities prepared in the prescribed form has also to be delivered.
by the name under which it is registered. Separate legal entity. . power to contract. on being satisfied as to the compliance of all the requirements for registration. sue and be sued. shall register the trade union.Registration: [Sec. perpetual existence and a common seal. Certificate of Registration: This is the conclusive evidence that the trade union is duly registered under the Act. and it can. power to acquire and hold both movable and immovable properties.8] The Registrar. The Registrar does this by entering the details relating to the trade union in his register. Now the trade union acquires the characteristics of a Body Corporate.
Rules of trade union: [Sec. The admission of ordinary members (persons actually working in the establishment or industry with which the trade union is associated) and also the admission and the number of honorary or temporary office bearers to the executive of the trade union. The whole of its objects. . The whole of the purposes for which the general funds of the trade union shall be applicable. The maintenance of a list of the members of the trade union and adequate facilities for the inspection thereof by the office-bearers and the members of the trade unions.6] The following points must be included: The name of the trade union.
Workers in other unorganized sectors – Rs. varied or cancelled. The conditions for receiving any benefit assured by the rules and conditions for imposition of fines on the members. The payment of subscription by the members of trade union.3/yr. and facilities for the inspection of the account books by the office-bearers and members of the trade union. Remaining workers – Rs. Rural workers – Re. . The manner in which the rules shall be amended.1/yr. The safe custody of the funds of the trade union and annual audit of the accounts. The manner in which the members of the executive and other office-bearers shall be appointed and removed (keeping in mind that elections have to be held within a gap of three years). and The manner in which the trade union may be dissolved.12/yr.
2. . 3. 5. which is inconsistent with any provision of the Act. 4. If the Registrar is satisfied that the certificate has been obtained by fraud or mistake. Willfully contravened any provisions of the Act. Allowed any rule to continue in force. The Registrar could take this step in the following situations: On application of the trade union. 10] 1. 6.Cancellation of registration: [Sec. or If the Registrar is satisfied that the trade union has: Ceased to exist.
To such a Court (as appointed by the appropriate government) that is equivalent or superior to the Court of Additional or Assistant Judge of a principal Civil Court.11] The aggrieved party or the trade union may appeal to the court within 60 days of such a cancellation order. The aggrieved party can still resort to the High Court if a Government appointed Court has passed the order. if the registered office of the trade union lies within the limits of a presidency town. The orders of such an appellate court have to be complied with. Appeal has to be made to: The High Court. The Labor Court or to the Industrial Tribunal. .Appeal against cancellation of Registration: [Sec. if the registered office is situated in any other area. if the registered office of the trade union lies within its limits.
Rights and privileges of a Registered Trade Union: Body Corporate [Sec. Immunity is not available in case of say a strike is accompanied by violence. threat etc.13] Separate fund for political purposes: [Sec.17] This immunity is granted under sec. . Immunity from punishment for criminal conspiracy: [Sec.16] This fund would be specially constituted for the promotion of the civil and political interest of its members. taken in the pursuit of their interests on which general funds may be spent. a union leader is not entitled to claim immunity from punishment for breach of discipline. intimidation. This immunity is in respect of the actions of the members of registered trade unions. Similarly. 120B(2) of the IPC. assault.
business. It is a person’s right to use his capital or his labour in any manner he wishes. Interference with the trade. . or as a result of a trade dispute arising out of employment and conditions of employment. Following arguments against the above action(s) will not be considered: Convincing employees to break their employment contracts.18] Civil suit shall not be maintainable against a registered trade union in respect of: Act that is done as an indicator of.Immunity from civil suits: [Sec. or employment or somebody else.
A registered trade union is not liable in any suit or other legal proceedings in any civil court in respect of any tortuous act done in contemplation of or furtherance of a trade dispute by an agent of the trade union. . if it is proved that such person acted without the knowledge of. or contrary to the express instructions given by the executive of the trade union.
3. allowances and expenses of the office-bearers Administrative expenses and audit expenses. Compensation to members for loss arising out of trade disputes. 2. Provision of educational. 4.15] If the union funds are spent on any object other than those enumerated in Sec. accident or unemployment. Payment of contributions to any cause intended to benefit workmen in general.15. Some purposes for which this fund may be used: Payment of salaries. old age. Expenses for any legal proceeding against the trade union or any member while they were securing or protecting any right of the trade union. 6. 1.Duties and Liabilities of a Registered Trade Union: Object on which general funds may be spent: [Sec. or even on account of death. social or religious benefits for members. the expenditure will be considered unlawful and ultra virus the Act and the Union can be restrained by injunction from applying its funds for any such object. sickness. 5. .
Expenditure for political purposes will never be permitted out of the general funds. .Constitution of a fund for political purposes: [Sec. Maintenance of any person who is a member of any legislative body constituted under the constitution of India or of any local authority. Holding of any meeting or the distribution of any literature or documents in support of any such candidate or prospective candidate.16] This fund may be created by a registered trade union only. This fund may be utilized for objects like: Any expenses incurred by a candidate or prospective candidate for election as a member of any legislative body constituted under the constitution of India or of any local authority. Holding of political meeting of any kind or the distribution of political literature or political documents of any kind.
Contribution to the political fund not to be made a condition for admission to the trade union. No member to be compelled to contribute to this fund. No ill treatment or unfair treatment of such a member. .There are certain conditions for the creation of political funds: Fund to be created only from the contributions separately levied or made to that fund. A member who does not contribute to the fund must not be excluded from any benefits of the trade union.
All other cases: Not more than 1/3rd of the total number of office-bearers or five (whichever is less) can be outsiders. We already know the provision regarding Council of Ministers and other persons who hold offices of profit (not employment) in an establishment or industry with which the trade union is connected.22] Unorganized Sector: This sector to be specified by the appropriate government by notification in the official gazette Not less than ½ the total number of office-bearers of every registered trade union must be persons engaged or employed in the industry with which the trade union is connected.Miscellaneous Provisions: Proportion of Office-Bearers to be connected with the Industry: [Sec. Retired and retrenched employees are considered ‘outsiders’ for this purpose. But the appropriate government may grant exemptions. .
21A] Not attained the age of 18 years. A copy of every alteration made in the rules has to be sent to the Registrar within 15 days of making the alteration. A statement showing all changes in office-bearers during the year. . of the assets and liabilities as on 31-Dec.. Five years have not elapsed since his release.28] A registered trade union is required to send annually: A general statement of all receipts and expenditure. Convicted by a court in India of an offence involving moral turpitude and sentenced to imprisonment. Returns: [Sec.Disqualifications of the Executive or any other office bearers of Trade Unions: [Sec. Such a place should be up to ten miles from the registered office of the trade union. A copy of the up-to-date rules. The Registrar or any of his authorized officers may examine the documents of a registered trade union at its registered office or may require their production at a place to be specified by him.
to a person intending to become a member. In case of a person making or causing false entry in. with the intent to deceive.5/week after the first week of default. . In case of a person who. or any omission from the general statements or rules sent to the Registrar: Punishable with a fine of up to Rs.Penalties: [Sec.200/.500/.31-32] In case of a default in sending returns required under the Act: Every office-bearer or the responsible person(s) is/are punishable with a fine of up to Rs. gives false information in the form of a document purporting to be copy of its rules etc.50/. or In case of a person knowingly projecting an unregistered trade union as a registered trade union: Punishable with a fine of up to Rs. Total fine not to exceed Rs.
29-30] The Central and State governments are empowered to make regulations with respect to: Registration of trade unions. Any matter which may be prescribed. shall be published in the Official Gazette of the appropriate government. The qualifications of the auditors and the manner in which the accounts of such trade unions are to be audited.Regulations: [Sec. Transfer of registration in case of a registered trade union changing its head office from one state to another. Regulations so made. fees payable on registration. . The conditions subject to which inspection of documents kept by the Registrar are to be allowed. and the fees chargeable in respect of such inspection. rules of trade unions.
25-26] Any two or more registered unions may be amalgamated together as one trade union with or without dissolution of the funds of such trade unions. and At least 60% of the recorded votes are in favour of the proposal of amalgamation.Amalgamation of Trade Unions: [Sec. If the head-office of the amalgamated trade union is situated in a different state. are recorded. . Notice of amalgamation (in writing). If the Registrar of the state in which the registered head-office of the amalgamated trade union is situated. such notice shall be sent to the Registrar of such state also. is satisfied that all the necessary formalities are completed. he may register the amalgamated trade union and the amalgamation shall have effect from the date of such registration. This process will take place only when: Votes of at least one-half of the members of each trade union entitled to vote. shall be sent to the Registrars of the individual trade unions. signed by the secretary and by seven members of each and every trade union that is a party to this amalgamation.
notice of the dissolution signed by seven members and by the secretary of the trade union shall be sent to the Registrar within 14 days of the dissolution. he shall register the fact of the dissolution. The dissolution shall take effect from the date of such registration. Dissolution of Trade Union: When the trade union is dissolved (process to be mentioned in the rules). If the Registrar is satisfied that the dissolution has been effected according to the rules of the trade union. Where the dissolution of a registered trade union has been registered and the rules of the trade union do not provide for the distribution of funds of the trade union on dissolution. Effect of amalgamation: Amalgamation shall not prejudice any right of any such trade unions or any right of a creditor on any of them. . the Registrar shall divide the funds amongst the members in such manner as may be prescribed.
Encouragement to persistence of outsiders. 6. Encouragement to formation of small sized unions. Light punishment for violations.Assessment of the Act: This Act can be assessed on the following points 1. Absence of provision for recognition. 2. 7. liabilities are applicable only to registered trade unions. . No mention of unfair labour practices. 3. 5. No time limit to the Registrar for registration. 4. Registration of a Trade union is not compulsory and the duties.
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