Strikes And Lockouts Under The Industrial Dispute Act 1947
- Definition of Strikes S.2 (Q)
- Definition of Lockouts S.2 (1)
- Types of strikes
- Boundaries of strikes and lockouts (Ss.22 and 23)
- Illegal strikes and lockouts
- Circumstances making strikes and lockouts illegal in an industrial establishment (S. 23)
- Circumstances making strikes and lockouts illegal in public utility service (S. 24)
- Circumstances under which strike or lockouts are not illegal
- Consequences of illegal strikes and lockouts
- Unjustified strikes
- Differences between strikes and lockouts
Strikes and lockouts are the last resort actions taken by employees and employers respectively to ensure that both get what they are demanding for. They are said to be the last resort after conciliation measures have deemed unfruitful.
Strikes happen when employees agree to stop working as a way of compelling the employer to hid to their demands while lockouts happen when employers close down the workplaces to bar employees from working with aim of getting employees to adjust to their demands as well.
The law gives room for strikes and lockouts to take place in industries on condition that they are peaceful; causing no harm to the society and no vandalism to public or industrial property by the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. However, strikes and lockouts cannot just take place whenever employers or employees feel like.
They are often results of dissatisfaction in economic factors for the employees and dissatisfaction in both economic and non-economic factors for the employers. Both acts see the parties compel the other to come into the terms being demanded.
Definition of Strikes S.2 (Q)
A strike is the ceasing of work by employees of an industry with the objective of forcing an employee to meet particular demands. It is a mutual understanding between workers to cease work or even employment all with the motive of drawing the attention of the management concerning their various demands.
In order for a strike to take place, the following components should be in place according to the Act:
- There has to be an industry.
- Work must stop.
- It must be a combined action of individuals.
- A relationship between the parties must be strictly of employment.
- It should be a planned refusal of work.
Definition of Lockouts S.2 (1)
A lockout is the act of employers that entails closing the workplace temporarily, suspending work or cutting short the employment of any number of individuals initially employed. A lockout is a strategic weapon that employers hold when in lock heads with the employees.
A lockout has to have the following in order to be counted as a lockout:
- There has to be a temporal shut down of the area of employment. It could also be a temporary suspension of workers or holding back of work from the workers.
- The employer has to have a demand that leads him to initiate the lockout.
- The lockout touches any number of workers employed within the industry.
On the other hand, there are some actions that do not count as lockouts. For instance:
- When an employer stops late-comers from working on that day.
- Preventing employees whose services have been ceased from going to the place of work.
Types of strikes-
Workers in the industrial world have resolved to various types of strikes. The strikes differ in their mode of actions they come along with. Some strikes produce different impacts on the industry at stake though they all aim at the same results.
The various types of strikes include:
- General Strike
- Sit down Strike
- Pen/Tool down Strike
- Go-slow Strike
- Go-speed Strike
A General Strike is said to be a legal strike since it follows all the protocols as stated in the Act of Industrial Disputes. Employees begin by giving a strike notice to the management of the industry they work for. If the management fails to settle the dispute within the given time in the strike notice, the strike will be launched after the expiry of the notice. All trade unions linked to the demand at hand participate in the General Strike.
KAMESHWAR PRASAD AND OTHERS VS. STATE OF BIHAR AND UNION OF INDIA (AIR 1962 SC 1166 SCR 369)
Bihar Government Servants’ Conduct Rules, 1956 had a rule, Rule 4-A that prohibited workers from demonstrating or initiating any strike. The petitioners and other employees in the State of Bihar filed a case before the High Court concerning the rule. The High Court made a judgment in favor of the employees and petitioners saying that strike is the workers’ right though not fundamental.
This kind of strike involves employees reporting for duty in their workplaces normally, take their positions in their various areas of work but here comes the game changer; they simply sit and do nothing.
They might also choose to just hang around the industry’s premises. The objective of this strike is to cripple production. The industry ends up incurring huge losses due to no work being done at all.
It is also of great pain and shame to the employers since the rate of production is going down in the presence of workers who have reported for duty to work which they eventually end up not doing.
Sadul Textile Mills Limited Vs. Their Workmen (1958) II L.L.J. 638 Raj.)
The Supreme Court ruled that a sit-down strike is not justified by any means even if it does not involve violence since it is an infringement of the employers’ rights.
Pen/Tool down Strike
This type of strike shares some similarities with the sit down strike. For the pen down, it mostly takes place among people with white-collar jobs or rather people who work in offices. Tool down is for workers in production industries like factories to be specific. This type of strike qualifies to be a strike since the members drop down their items of work in unison and refuse to work.
The Go-slow Strike is aimed at showing the employers how offended the employees are. The employees report for duty as usual and could even get to work but with only one distinction; they don’t actually do anything productive. The delay in all that they do and the outcome turns into little or no production at all.
The unique thing about this strike is that at the end of the day, the employees demand for their wages. This aspect makes the Go-slow Strike the most harmful strike compared to the total dissertation of work like in the General Strike. No production has been made but the workers have to be paid because they are demanding for it.
The Supreme Court ruled that a go-slow strike is a major form of misconduct when it comes to labor in the case of “Bharat Sugar Mills Ltd. vs. Jai Singh (1961) II L.L.J. 644 SC”
It is not a common type of strike but it has also proven to bear results. Unlike the Go-slow strike, the workers of the industry give a notice to the employers in advance stating various demands that they have. They go ahead to give a duration of time to the management to look into those demands. By any chance, if the management fails to meet the stated demands in the time given, the workers resolve to a strike.
A kind of a strike that sees them work harder hence making a greater level of production in the industry. The increase in production is meant to channel their discontentment with the management. The unique strike sees the workers working on overtime which in turn causes the employer to feel humiliated.
The overproduction brings about a problem in the distribution of raw materials, storing and keeping stock of the finished and unfinished products and so forth – generally causing an economic collision. The employer is then forced to meet the demands of the workers.
Boundaries of strikes and lockouts (Ss. 22 AND 23)
To prevent strikes and lockouts from being misused, boundaries have been made by the Industrial Dispute Act. These boundaries are rules stating when individuals are not allowed to go on strike or establish a lockout.
Boundaries of strikes:
Strikes are not allowed to take place when:
- The employer has not given a notice of the strike within six weeks before commencing the strike; or
- Before the end 14 days after giving the notice.
- The duration of time stated in the notice has not expired.
- The conciliation process before a Conciliation Officer is still pending.
- A duration of 7 days passes after the settling of the conciliation proceedings.
Boundaries of lockouts:
Lockouts are not allowed to take place when:
- The employer has not given a prior notice about the lockout within six weeks before the lockout; or
- Before the end of 14 days after giving the notice.
- The duration of time stated in the notice has not expired.
- The conciliation process before a Conciliation Officer is still pending
- A duration of 7 days passes after the settling of the conciliation proceedings.
The notice of a lockout, however, shall not be necessary when there is a strike already in progress.
Illegal strikes and lockouts-
There are times strikes and lockouts are said to be illegal. This means that they are in progress while the law forbids. A strike or lockout is deemed to be illegal if it contravenes the boundaries of strikes.
Circumstances making strikes and lockouts illegal in an industrial establishment (S. 23) –
An employee working in an industrial establishment shall not go in strike contrary to the agreements made in the contracts and no employer of any such employee shall initiate a lockout when:
- The conciliation process before the Board of Conciliation is still pending and after 7 days since the settlement of the conciliation. The conciliation before a Board is what is considered in this case and not the conciliation before an Officer u/s 23.
- The case before a Labour Court, National Tribunal or Industrial Tribunal is pending and after 2 months since the settlement of such a case.
- The case of arbitration before an arbitrator is still pending and after 2 months since the closing of the case. A notification has to have been issued. 10-A (3-A)
- A settlement or award is still operational in reference to any of the issues under the settlement or award.
Circumstances making strikes and lockouts illegal in public utility service (S.24) –
Strikes and lockouts shall also be declared illegal when:
- They are done contrary to the contract stating the terms of employment.
- A notice of the lockout is not given to the employees or notice of strike is not given to the employers; within six weeks before the commencement of the lockout or strike.
- Employees strike or employers lock out the employees before the end of 14 days after the notice has been given.
- The employees commence a lockout or employers commence a strike while conciliation proceedings are pending before the Conciliation Officer and before the end of 7 days after the proceedings have been settled.
Circumstances under which strike or lockouts are not illegal
- When the strike or lockout in pursuit of an industrial dispute has already begun and exist at the reference time of the conflict to a Board, an arbitrator, a Labour Court and an Industrial or National Tribunal. The strike or lockout shall therefore not be termed as illegal given that they have not contravened the given statement of this Act.
- When a lockout has been initiated as a result of an illegal strike or a strike initiated as a result of an illegal lockout shall not be termed as illegal.
Consequences of illegal strikes and lockouts
Individuals who continue to run a strike or lockout contrary to the law are subject to punishments and penalties in accordance to the Act. The consequences touch on both employers and employees.
An employee who initiates or continues to run a strike which has been deemed as illegal by the Act is subject to the extent of one-month imprisonment or a fine that may reach up to fifty rupees or both.
An employer who initiates or continues to run a strike which has been deemed as illegal by the Act is subject to the extent of one-month imprisonment or a fine that may reach up to one thousand rupees or both.
According to the Case-law: Man Industrial Corpn. Ltd. vs. IT (1985) they should be no pay for the duration the strike took if the strike is termed to be illegal.
- In Ramnagar Cane & Sugar Co. v. Jatin Chakravarty AIR 1960 SC 1012, it was said that in the process of an ongoing conciliation between the public utility and its union, another union went on a strike of the same issue, deemed, illegal.
- In India General Navigation & Railway Co. V. Workmen, AIR 1960 Supreme Court, It was ruled by the Supreme Court the lockout was not illegal since it was as a result of an illegal strike which had already begun.
Justified and unjustified strikes-
A strike is said to be justified when the strike is legal and the reasons leading to the strike are open and realistic. Reasons can vary from better wages to better working conditions and so forth.
Whereas an unjustified strike is a strike that has been commenced by the employees with the aim of intimidating the employer. It should be noted that some circumstances may render a render a legal strike unjustified.
Differences between strikes and lockouts-
|1.||A strike is the ceasing of work by employees of an industry with the objective of forcing an employee to meet particular demands.||A lockout is the act of employers that entails closing the workplace temporarily, suspending work or cutting short the employment of any number of individuals initially employed.|
|2.||Strikes entail the full ceasing of work by the workers until their demands are met by the employees.||Lockouts entail the temporal shutdown of the place of work, suspension of the work or refusal to employ.|
|3.||Reasons leading to a strike are often economic.||Reasons leading to a lockout could be both economic and non-economic.
|4.||A strike is a weapon used by employees.||A lockout is a weapon used by employers.|
|5.||There are various types of illegal strikes. E.g.: pen down, go slow etc.||Illegal lockouts do not have varieties. There is only one.|
Employees make use of strikes in order to enact industrial action upon employers about the demands they have. Employers make use of lockouts as a weapon to compel their workers to meet their work demands. Strikes and lockouts cannot take place just in any way and thus, they have boundaries and circumstances that render them either legal or illegal. Illegal ones have consequences.