Industrial disputes refer to workplace conflicts or disagreements between employers and employees. These disputes can range from disagreements over wages and working conditions to more severe issues such as unfair dismissal or discrimination. There are several ways in which industrial disputes can be resolved, including through negotiation, mediation, or arbitration. Sometimes, the dispute may need to be referred to the courts for a final decision. These can significantly impact businesses, employees, and the broader economy.
They can lead to disruptions in the workplace and can cause financial losses for businesses. It can also cause stress and anxiety for employees and can impact their health and well-being. Therefore, companies and employees must be aware of the causes of industrial disputes and how they can be resolved. By understanding the causes of disputes and the various options for resolution, businesses and employees can minimise the impact of industrial disputes on their workplaces.
Did you know? On 28th February 2012, approximately ten crore workers walked for 24 hours in protest for adequate pay, pensions, and employment rights.
What are Industrial Disputes?
Industrial disputes refer to disagreements between employers and employers, employers and employees, or employees and employees that have to do with a person's employment, inability to obtain employment, employment terms, or working conditions.
Such problems usually give rise to topics like Strikes, Lockouts, Picketing, Gherao, Lay Off, retrenchments and boycotts if arbitration is not implemented on time.
Economic and non-economic factors can broadly categorise the main causes of industrial disputes. Economic causes will involve problems with pay, such as earnings, bonuses, allowances, and working conditions, such as working hours, leave and paid holidays, as well as unfair layoffs and retrenchments.
Causes of Industrial Disputes:
Industrial disputes can arise from many reasons and often lead to irregular functioning of the disputed sector and hassles. To understand the reasons behind these, one must consider the following causes.
- There can be many psychological causes of industrial disputes. For example, if workers feel that they are being mistreated or that their working conditions are poor, they may be more likely to strike.
- Other psychological factors contributing to industrial disputes include feelings of powerlessness, insecurity, and stress. In some cases, workers may strike in an attempt to gain more power within the organisation, and this can be especially true if workers feel that management needs to listen to their concerns.
There can be a wide range of problems that can arise in case of an Institutional problems in the industries.Some of the biggest industrial disputes in the history of India were also caused for the same reasons such as the 1974 railway strike in India.
The 1974 railway strike in India was a massive walkout by Indian Railways employees. The strike lasted from May 8 to May 27, 1974. The 20-day walkout by 1.7 million (17 lakh) workers is the world's greatest documented industrial action, resulting from a demand for an eight-hour working day for locomotive staff and a salary hike.
Some of the most common causes of industrial disputes include the following: -
- Poor working conditions: This is often one of the main reasons workers go on strike or engage in other industrial actions. If workers feel that their working conditions are unsafe, unhealthy, or otherwise unsatisfactory, they may be more likely to take action to improve them.
- Low pay: Another common cause of industrial disputes is low pay. If workers feel they are not being paid a fair wage for their work, they may be more likely to take action to secure a pay increase.
- Job insecurity: In today's economy, many workers feel insecure in their jobs as they fear they could be made redundant at any time. This job insecurity can lead to industrial action as workers try to secure better job protection rights.
- Poor management: If workers feel that they are being poorly managed, they may be more likely to take action. This could be in response to things like bullying, harassment, or a lack of communication from management.
There are many economic causes of industrial disputes. Some of the most common include
- Wages: Unfair wages or a lack of wage growth can lead to industrial disputes. For example, workers may strike if they feel their salaries are not keeping up with the cost of living.
- Job security: Job insecurity can also lead to industrial disputes. For example, workers may strike if they are worried about job losses or cuts to their hours or pay.
- Working conditions: Poor working conditions can also lead to industrial disputes. For example, workers may strike if they are required to work excessive hours or in dangerous situations.
- Pensions: Changes to pension schemes can also lead to industrial disputes. For example, workers may strike if they feel their pension rights are being eroded.
- Job losses: Redundancy can also lead to industrial disputes. For example, workers may strike if they are facing mass redundancies.
- Contract changes: Changes to employment contracts can also lead to industrial disputes. For example, workers may strike if they face changes to their hours or working conditions.
Denial of Legal and Other Rights:
- Several potential causes of industrial disputes can lead to the denial of legal and other rights of workers. These include pay and conditions, workload, job security, and health and safety. Sometimes, disputes may also arise from disagreements over the interpretation of contracts or from changes in work practices.
- In many cases, the underlying cause of an industrial dispute is a feeling amongst workers that they are not being treated moderately or that their rights are being denied. This can often result from a sense of powerlessness or being undervalued.
- Sometimes, workers may also feel they have no choice but to take industrial action to protect their interests. If workers feel they are being denied their legal or other rights, they may be more likely to take industrial action. This is because they may feel they have no other way to assert their rights or protect their interests.
- The denial of legal and other rights of workers is a potential cause of industrial disputes. Workers may feel they are being denied their rights if they are not treated equally to other workers or if they think their working conditions are unfair.
Result Of Industrial Disputes:
The result of industrial disputes are certainly unpredictable while most of the events are known. There can be arbitrary discussions which might lead to a suitable solution or strikes and boycotts in case the talks fail, or a party refuses to participate.
Because these situations arise from circumstances and decisions that were harmful to the interests of a respective side, it requires a good mutual-negotiation to reach the middle ground. The following are some of the most common situations that arise from industrial disputes.
A strike is a work stoppage caused by the refusal of employees to work. It is usually in response to an employer's action, such as a change in working conditions or the imposition of new work rules. Strikes can also be called to support other workers, such as in a solidarity strike. The most common form of a strike is the walkout, in which employees leave their workplace and refuse to return until their demands are met. Other strikes include the sit-down strike, in which employees occupy their workplace and refuse to go, and the wildcat strike, a spontaneous strike not approved by the striking workers' union. Strikes are a powerful weapon in the labour arsenal, but they come with significant risks.
The main aim of a boycott is to put economic pressure on the company or organisation with which the individual or group has a dispute. The idea is to make it more expensive for the company to do business and to encourage them to change their policies. India, for many years, has used boycotts due to industrial disputes.
One of the most common reasons is to protest against the company's policies or practices. For example, workers may boycott a company that is not paying them a fair wage. They may also boycott a company that is not providing adequate safety conditions. Another reason boycotts may be used due to industrial disputes is to pressure the company to change its policies. For example, workers may boycott a company that does not provide them with the same benefits as other employees. They may also boycott a company that needs to follow the proper procedures for handling grievances. Finally, boycotts may also pressure the government to take action.
Machinery In India For Prevention and Settlement of Industrial Disputes
The machinery in India for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes is the conciliation machinery, the arbitration machinery, and the adjudication machinery.
The conciliation machinery
This comprises the conciliation officer and the conciliation board. The conciliation officer tries to bring the parties to an agreement through conciliation. If the conciliation officer cannot get the parties to an agreement, they may refer the matter to the conciliation board. The conciliation board comprises representatives of both the employer and the employees. The committee tries to bring the parties to an agreement through conciliation. If the conciliation board cannot get the parties to an agreement, it may refer the matter to arbitration or adjudication.
The arbitration machinery
It is composed of the arbitrator. The arbitrator hears the case and decides the dispute. The award of the arbitrator is binding on the parties.
The adjudication machinery
It comprises the labour court, industrial tribunal, and national tribunal. The labour court hears cases of unfair labour practices and decides the disputes. The industrial tribunal hears the cases of industrial disputes and decides the disputes. The national tribunal hears the cases of industrial disputes involving questions of national importance and decides the disputes.
Also Read: What are Inferior Goods? Meaning & Examples
Laws About Industrial Disputes in India
The law relating to industrial disputes in India is incorporated in the Industrial Disputes Act of 1947. This Act provides for the investigation and settlement of industrial disputes and other purposes. The Industrial Disputes Act of 1947, which covered the entirety of India, governed Indian labour law since it applied to trade unions and individual workers employed in any industry on the Indian mainland. It was enacted on March 11, 1947, and effective April 1, 1947.
While protests are a fundamental right and one must not hold back from one if they are deprived in a democracy, there shall also be administrative checks to ensure they are non-violent and adequate. The Industrial Disputes Act of 1947 considers most of the reasons of both potential parties and draws a roadmap for resolving it along with the guidelines of how to approach it.
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