Industrial Disputes Act, 1947

Industrial Disputes Act, 1947

Deskera Content Team
Deskera Content Team
Table of Contents
Table of Contents

Over 250 million workers across sectors participated in the 2020 strike. It was called by 10 central trade unions and hundreds of worker associations and federations.It was one of the biggest nationwide strikes by workers, joined by protesting farmers in India and caused complete shutdown in several states.

The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 came into existence in April 1947. It was enacted to make provisions for prevention and settlement of industrial disputes and for providing certain safeguards to the workers.

Industrial disputes act 1947 was the first legislation to deal with industrial actions in India. It was enacted in 1948, and it dealt with all industries and public services. This Act is still in force through some new acts passed to replace it as industrial unrest has increased over time.

The Act is designed to aid in settling differences between employers and employees without resorting to industrial action. For example, under this Act, workers are prohibited from going on strike during their first year of employment with a company.

Provisions under the Act also makes it illegal for unions to call a strike unless a majority of their members vote in favour of such action. If an association does call for strike action despite this provision, any member who is not in favour of such action has the right of appeal to an industrial tribunal against their union.

The tribunal may then force the union to call off the strike if it agrees with the dissenting members that there is no justification for its proposed action.

Here is an overview of the key points covered in the article:

1) Industrial Disputes Act 1947-Important Terms Explained

2) Significance of the Industrial Disputes Act 1947

3) Key Elements of Industrial Disputes Act 1947

4) Provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act 1947

5) What does unfair labour practice include?

Industrial Disputes Act 1947-Important Terms Explained

The main object of the enactment is to provide for the settlement of industrial disputes by conciliation or adjudication between the parties to any industrial conflict.

  • Conciliation means an effort made by a Government Officer to bring about a settlement between the parties to any industrial dispute referred to him for conciliation
  • Adjudication means a judicial determination of any industrial dispute made by an Adjudicating Officer appointed under the Act
  • Arbitration is an alternative mode for settling an industrial dispute by referring it to an arbitrator whose final decision is binding on both parties
  • Conciliation Officer:  He is the person who tries to bring about an amicable settlement between the parties through conciliation proceedings. The conciliation officer tries his best to settle the dispute and takes steps
  • Tribunal is defined as a body of persons constituted by law to administer justice in a certain court or deal with certain classes of matters
  • Lockout: This is a notice given by an employer to its employees during a dispute between them, asking them not to enter the establishment's premises during working hours
  • Strike: It is a cessation of work by a body of persons employed in any industrial establishment as a means of enforcing their demands
  • Industrial Dispute:- Refers to a situation which has arisen between employers and employees or any other person employed in any industry whether the industry is in existence or is being set up, or is under construction or is being expanded, where the question of difference has arisen relating to terms and conditions of employment or in respect of any matters connected in addition to that
  • Workman:- Refers to a person who, under the control or direction of an employer, carries out any process, operation or other work for hire or reward concerning an industry; or who has been engaged for one year or more by an employer, whether directly or through a contractor, in connection with an industrial undertaking

The Act applies to any industry employing 100 or more persons.

If any industrial dispute arises in an industry, it shall be deemed to be a dispute concerning employment about which the provisions of this Act apply, and that dispute shall be referred for adjudication following the provisions of this Act.

Significance of the Industrial Disputes Act 1947

To understand the significance of this Act, one must go back to the Trade Unions Act, 1929, which was a piece of labour legislation in British India. The trade unions were prohibited from calling strikes or picketing in any form, and they had no legal recognition.

This Act was repealed by the Industrial Disputes (Amendment) Act, 1947, passed during the last days of British rule and came into force in April 1948. The Act provided for adjudication and settlement of industrial disputes through conciliation, mediation, judicial settlement and compulsory adjudication. It also provided for the regulation of lockouts.

Industrial disputes act 1947 is the law of India which was enacted to prevent disruption in industries, to ensure that management and labour work together in a spirit of giving and take and to provide for the adjudication of industrial disputes.

It was an essential piece of legislation that came about due to the historical context in which it was passed. It was one of the first Acts passed by the Constituent Assembly of India.

It is an act of the Parliament of India enacted to settle industrial disputes. It gives powers to the central government to intervene in trade union disputes; it also provides a mechanism for conciliation, mediation and arbitration.

Objectives of the Industrial Disputes Act 1947

The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, was enacted by the Indian Parliament to regulate relations between employers and employees with the disputes arising out of their respective rights. The main objects of the Act are:

(i) to maintain or restore industrial peace in cases of industrial disputes

(ii) to provide for the settlement of industrial disputes by conciliation or arbitration and matters connected in addition to that; and

(iii) to provide for matters incidental thereto

Key Elements of Industrial Disputes Act 1947

The Act has been amended in its various provisions several times since it was enacted. The primary purposes of the Act are to:

  • Provide machinery for settlement of disputes between employers and employees
  • Ensure the continued production, supply and distribution of goods and services by industries
  • Protect the rights and interests of employees
  • Encourage settlement of industrial disputes by conciliation or arbitration
  • Protect workers against discharge and discrimination on the grounds of participation in lawful activities during the pendency of any proceeding before an authority under this Act
  • Provide for publication of particular material regarding settlement of industrial disputes

Provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act 1947

The Act empowers the Central Government to appoint one or more persons as conciliators whose duty is to inquire into any industrial dispute regarding which a reference has been made to him by the appropriate government and report thereon to effect a settlement thereof. It also provides for the constitution of Labour Courts and their jurisdiction.

It is umbrella legislation to deal with all labour problems in India.[1] The Act provides for conciliation, adjudication and penalties for contravention of any provision contained therein.

A dispute may be defined as the difference or disagreement between one or more employers and one or more employees about any question concerning terms and conditions of employment (including wages) or work done by them during a collective bargaining process

  • The Act prohibits strikes in specified essential services which are immune from any industrial disputes
  • A conciliator appointed under this Act can impose a penalty if he is satisfied that there has been a failure to comply with a direction issued by him or a settlement arrived at through the conciliation proceedings
  • When a conciliator imposes a penalty under this Act, he shall intimate to both parties concerned the amount of liability charged on each party and the reasons for such correction
  • No suit or other legal proceeding shall lie against the Government of India or any officer thereof in respect of anything which is in good faith done or intended to be done in pursuance.

What does unfair labour practice include?

Unfair labour practices are acts prohibited under the Industrial Disputes Act,1947. Under the Act, an employer cannot take any action against a worker to exercise their rights.

The main objective is to provide for the settlement of industrial disputes and provide for matters connected to that or incidental thereto.

Unfair labour practise includes-

(i) refusal to renew a contract or termination of services

(ii) reduction of wage or change in service conditions without due notice

(iii) victimization for past lawful trade union activities; and

(iv) dismissal or otherwise discriminating against an employee for having lawfully acted to further his interests

Wrapping Up

India is a land of workers. The majority of her population is dependent on agriculture and industries for their livelihood. The country has many artisanal and small-scale industries that generate employment opportunities for the masses.

Any act, law, or rule that comes into existence regarding industrial disputes in India will significantly impact the entire nation.

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Key Takeaways

The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (No. 12 of 1947) is an act of the Parliament of India that regulates relations and resolves industrial disputes in the organized sector in India.

The main objectives of the Act are: to prevent industrial disputes; to provide for conciliation and arbitration for settlement of such conflicts; and ensure that the process of mediation and arbitration is not delayed unduly.

The significant provisions of the Act are:

  • industrial disputes can only be adjudicated by a tribunal headed by a sitting or retired judge, preferably with technical experience in the industry
  • the jurisdiction of the Industrial Tribunal is limited to disputes referred to it by the conciliation officer
  • the decision of the conciliation officer is binding on both parties except when either party states that it is not prepared to accept the recommendations of the conciliation officer and refers the dispute for adjudication
  • If any party does not abide by the decision of the conciliation officer, the other party may refer the matter to an Industrial Tribunal
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