Case Laws on Industrial Disputes Act

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Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 regulates Labour laws in India as it concerns all the workmen or all the people employed on the Indian mainland. It came into force on 1st April 1947. The employer and the workers always had a difference of opinion which led to lots of conflicts amongst and within these groups. So, these issues were brought to the attention of the government and so they decided to pass this Act. This Act was formulated with the main objective of bringing peace and harmony in industrial disputes between the parties. This is an Act made for the examination and settlement of industrial disputes, and for different purposes too. This Act centres around any industry carried on by or under the authority of the Central Government, or by a railway organization, or concerning any such controlled industry as might be indicated for this benefit by the Central Government. This Act gives out specific guidelines with regards to both the businesses and all the workmen to advance measures for good working relations and comprehension among the workmen and the businesses later on and to end that, it additionally vows to resolve any material difference in views of opinion concerning such issues. Industrial dispute implies any distinction of conclusion, contest, injury between the business and the representatives, or between the labourers and bosses, or between the labourers or workers itself which is all concerned with the work or non-business terms or terms of business dependent on the terms of the state of work of any person.

Indian Bank Vs Management of Indian Bank 1985 1 LLJ 6 (Mad.)

It was observed that where privilege is given to an office-bearer of a trade union in the form of duty, relief was withdrawn by the management which was granted to the privileged. It cannot be said that an industrial dispute has arisen thereby and the legal status of the duty relief is only that of a concession and not a matter relating to conditions of service. In this case, it was held that where the concession provided is withdrawn, the beneficiary cannot complain that a condition of service is affected and the management is not entitled to do so without raising an industrial dispute and having the matter adjudicated by the authority.

Guest Keen William (Private) Ltd. Vs Sterling (P.J) and others 

It was held by the Supreme Court that the delay in raising an industrial dispute does not serve as a bar to the reference of a dispute. If the dispute is raised after a considerable delay that is not reasonably explained, the Tribunal would take that into account while dealing with the merit of the dispute.

Bombay Union of Journalists vs. The Hindu 1961, II LLJ 727 Bom 

A person working in ‘The Hindu, Madras’ was dismissed for claiming as a full-time employee. The Bombay Union of Journalists raised the dispute. It was found that there were ten employees out of which seven on the administrative side and only three on the journalism side. Of these three, only two were members of the union. Therefore, the Supreme Court held that the Bombay Union of Journalists is not competent to raise this dispute. Even if it had been raised, it could not have become an industrial dispute.

Workmen of Indian Express Newspapers Ltd. vs. Management Indian Express Newspapers AIR 1970, SC 737 

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A dispute between two workmen of Indian Express Newspapers Ltd was espoused by the Delhi Union of Journalists which was an outside union. About 25 per cent of the working journalists of the Indian Express were members of that union. But there was no union of the journalists of the Indian Express. It was held that the Delhi Union of Journalists could be said to have a representative character as the working journalists employed at Indian Express and the dispute was thus transformed into an industrial dispute. Thus, an individual dispute to fall within the definition of industrial dispute, it must be sponsored by the Trade Union of the workmen or if there is no trade union, it must be sponsored by the majority of the workmen or it must comply with the requirements of Section 2-A of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.

In the landmark case of Workmen of Dimakuchi Tea Estate v. The Management of Dimakuchi Tea Estate Supreme Court identified two tests to determine whether a dispute was industrial or individual,

Supreme Court held that an individual dispute could be transformed into an industrial dispute if it was sponsored by a trade union or if it was sponsored by a significant number of workers. To make an individual dispute into an industrial dispute, it must be taken up by a union of employees of the establishment and, where no such union exists, it can be married by any union of workers employed in similar trade. Concerning the second condition, if an individual dispute between a worker is dealt with by a considerable number of workers of the same establishment, it becomes an industrial dispute. The Court admitted that the term “number appreciable” does not mean a majority of the workers.


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