Sunday, April 30, 2017

Industrial Relations Notes - Strike and Lockout

Unit – 2: Strike and Lockout
Strike and Lockout
Strike: A strike is a very powerful weapon used by trade unions and other labor associations to get their demands accepted. It generally involves quitting of work by a group of workers for the purpose of bringing the pressure on their employer so that their demands get accepted. When workers collectively cease to work in a particular industry, they are said to be on strike.
According to Industrial Disputes Act 1947, a strike is “a cessation of work by a body of persons employed in an industry acting in combination; or a concerted refusal of any number of persons who are or have been so employed to continue to work or to accept employment; or a refusal under a common understanding of any number of such persons to continue to work or to accept employment”. This definition throws light on a few aspects of a strike. Firstly, a strike is a referred to as stoppage of work by a group of workers employed in a particular industry. Secondly, it also includes the refusal of a number of employees to continue work under their employer.
Essential features of Strikes:
1)      There must be cessation of work.
2)      The cessation of work must be by a body of persons employed in any industry (which can be called industry as per Sec. 2 (j).
3)      The stricken must have been acting in combination.
4)      There must be a concerted refusal under a common understanding of any no. of persons who are or have been so employed to continue to work or to accept employment.
5)      There must stop work for some demands relating to employment, non-employment or the terms of employment or the conditions of labour of the workmen.

Lockout: A lockout is a work stoppage in which an employer prevents employees from working. It is declared by employers to put pressure on their workers. This is different from a strike, in which employees refuse to work. Thus, a lockout is employers’ weapon while a strike is raised on part of employees. Acc to Industrial Disputes Act 1947, lock-out means the temporary closing of a place of employment or the suspension of work or the refusal by an employer to continue to employ any number of persons employed by him.
A lockout may happen for several reasons. When only part of a trade union votes to strike, the purpose of a lockout is to put pressure on a union by reducing the number of members who are able to work.
ILLEGAL STRIKES AND LOCK-OUTS (Sec 24)
(1) A strike or a lock-out shall be illegal if:
(i) It is commenced or declared in contravention of section 22 or section 23; or
(ii) It is continued in contravention of an order made under sub-section (3) of section 10 or sub-section (4A) of section 10A.
(2) Where a strike or lock-out in pursuance of an industrial dispute has already commenced and is in existence at the time of the reference of the dispute to a Board, an arbitrator, a Labour Court, Tribunal or National Tribunal, the continuance of such strike or lock-out shall not be deemed to be illegal, provided that such strike or lock-out was not at its commencement in contravention of the provisions of this Act or the continuance thereof was not prohibited under sub-section (3) of section 10 or subsection (4A) of section 10A.
(3) A lock-out declared in consequence of an illegal strike or a strike declared in consequence of an illegal lock-out shall not be deemed to be illegal.
Prohibition of Strike and lockout
Section 22: Prohibition of Strikes and Lock outs:
1.       No person employed in a public utility service shall go on strike, (a) without giving to the employer notice of strike within six weeks before striking or (b) within fourteen days of giving such notice or (c) before the expiry of the date of strike specified in any such notice as aforesaid or (d) during the pendency of any conciliation proceedings before a conciliation officer and seven days after the conclusion of such proceedings.
2.       No employer carrying on any public utility service shall lock-out any of his workman (a) without giving them notice of lock-out within six weeks before locking-out; or (b) within fourteen days of giving such notice; or (c) before the expiry of the date of lock-out specified in any such notice as aforesaid; or (d) during the pendency of any conciliation proceedings before a conciliation officer and seven days after the conclusion of such proceedings.
3.       The notice of lock-out or strike under this section shall not be necessary where there is already in existence a strike or, as the case may be, lock-out in the public utility service, but the employer shall send intimation of such lock-out or strike on the day on which it is declared, to such Authority as may be specified by the appropriate Government either generally or for a particular area or for a particular class of public utility services.
4.        The notice of strike referred to in sub-section (1) shall be given by such number of persons to such person or persons and in such manner as may be prescribed.
5.       The notice of lock-out referred to in sub-section (2) shall be given in such manner as may be prescribed.
If on any day an employer receives from any person employed by him any such notices as are referred to in sub-section (1) or gives to any persons employed by him any such notices as are referred to in sub-section (2), he shall within five days, thereof report to the appropriate Government or to such authority as that Government may prescribe the number of such notices received or given on that day.
Section 23: General Prohibition of Strikes and Lock-outs:
No workman who is employed in any industrial establishment shall go on strike and no employer of any such workman shall declare a lock-out
1.       during the pendency of conciliation proceedings before a Board and seven days after the conclusion of such proceedings;
2.       during the pendency of proceedings before a Labour Court, Tribunal or National Tribunal and two months after the conclusion of such proceedings
3.       during any period in which a settlement is in operation,

Difference between Strike and Lockout
1. Definition: A strike is a refusal to work, organised by a body of employees as a form of protest, typically in an attempt to gain a concession or concessions from their employer. A lockout is the exclusion of employees by their employer from their place of work until certain terms are agreed to.
2. Initiators: Strikes are initiated by the employees. Lockouts are initiated by the employers.
3. Aim: Strikes are conducted with the aim of gaining concessions from the employer. Lockouts are used to enforce terms of employment upon a group of employees during a dispute.
4. Methods: Strikes may involve employees refusing to attend work, employees standing outside the workplace as a form of protest (picket) or employees occupying the workplace but refusing to work (sit down strike). Lockouts involve refusing to admit workers onto company premises.
Kinds of strike
These are three kinds of strikes, namely: (1) General strike, (2) Stay-in-strike, and (3) Go slow strike.
(1) General strike: A general strike is one, where the workmen join together     for common cause and stay away from work, depriving the employer of their labour needed to run the factory.
(2) Stay-in-strike: A stay-in-strike is also known as "total-dawn-strike" or 'pen-dawn-strike". It is the form of strike where the workmen report to their duties, occupy the premises, but do not work. The employer is thus prevented from employing other labour to carryon his business.
(3) Go-slow strike: In a 'Go Slow' strike, the .workmen do not stay away from work, they do come to their work and work also, but with a slow speed in order to lower down production, and thereby cause loss to the employer.
In addition to these three forms of strike a few more may be cited, although some of them are not strike within the meaning of Sub-Section 2(q). Such forms are:
(i) Sympathetic strike: A sympathetic strike is resorted to in sympathy of other striking workmen. Its aim is to encourage or to extend moral support to or indirectly to aid the striking workmen. The sympathisers resorting to such strike have no demand of grievance of their own.
(ii) Hunger strike: In hunger strike, a group of workmen resort to fasting on or near the place of work or the residence of the employer with a view to coerce the employer to accept their demands.
(iii) Work to rule: The employers in this case of "work to rule" strictly adhere to rules while performing their duties which ordinarily they do not observe. This causes the slowing down the tempo of work. It is not a strike because there is no stoppage of work at all.
(iv) Unjustified Strike: It is to be noted that a strike may be perfectly legal and yet be unjustified; for example; a strike commenced not to secure improvement on matters of basic industrial interest to labour, but to embarrass the management could not be justified. Thus, a strike may be held unjustified for various reasons, they are:
1.       The demands may be pitched unreasonably high on workman.
2.       The workmen may have adopted a strike for any political reasons and not for any trade union objects; or
3.       The demands were not made bonafide but with other extraneous methods, i.e. for the specific purpose of embarrassing the employer.
The justifiability of a strike would depend upon several factors such as:-
a)      Were the demands of the workmen genuine or were reasonable or inspired by an oblique motive;
b)      Were the demands fair and reasonable;
c)       Whether the workers try a less dynastic method before going on a strike, etc.
An unjustified strike may not necessarily be illegal. Section 24 provides that a strike in contravention of Section 22 & 23 is illegal. A Strike is justified if it has been raised for a good cause and carried in a peaceful manner.

Industrial Conflict
Industrial conflict occurs when employees express their dissatisfaction with management over the current state of the management-employee relationship. The causes of such dissatisfaction are typically matters related to regular wage payment, wage increase or remunerations according to terms of the employment contract. Employees can express such dissatisfaction in formal or informal ways. Formal methods are organized and are planned in advance, while informal ones are spontaneous and unorganized, usually taking management by surprise.
There are different types of formal and informal industrial conflicts.
a) Strike: A strike is a very powerful weapon used by trade unions and other labor associations to get their demands accepted. It generally involves quitting of work by a group of workers for the purpose of bringing the pressure on their employer so that their demands get accepted. When workers collectively cease to work in a particular industry, they are said to be on strike.
According to Industrial Disputes Act 1947, a strike is “a cessation of work by a body of persons employed in an industry acting in combination; or a concerted refusal of any number of persons who are or have been so employed to continue to work or to accept employment; or a refusal under a common understanding of any number of such persons to continue to work or to accept employment”. This definition throws light on a few aspects of a strike. Firstly, a strike is a referred to as stoppage of work by a group of workers employed in a particular industry. Secondly, it also includes the refusal of a number of employees to continue work under their employer.
b) Lockout: A lockout is a work stoppage in which an employer prevents employees from working. It is declared by employers to put pressure on their workers. This is different from a strike, in which employees refuse to work. Thus, a lockout is employers’ weapon while a strike is raised on part of employees. Acc to Industrial Disputes Act 1947, lock-out means the temporary closing of a place of employment or the suspension of work or the refusal by an employer to continue to employ any number of persons employed by him.
A lockout may happen for several reasons. When only part of a trade union votes to strike, the purpose of a lockout is to put pressure on a union by reducing the number of members who are able to work.
c) Work-to-rule: Work-to-rule, another form of formal industrial action, occurs when workers work strictly according to the legal terms of their contract. They deliberately refuse to make use of their initiative and act rigidly, like pre-programmed machines. For instance, a nurse may deliberately refuse to answer phone calls that are meant for doctors (since her terms of contract do not include phone-answering). A stenographer may ignore glaring grammatical errors in what her boss dictates to her (since, strictly speaking, her responsibility is merely to transcribe whatever her boss dictates to her). Since work-to-rule does not go against any formal terms of contract, it rarely brings punishment. However, it naturally slows down work progress.
d) Absenteeism: Absenteeism, an informal form of industrial conflict, occurs when employees deliberately refuse to report to their workplace. Absenteeism is not always a sign of industrial conflict, since employees can fail to report to work due to injury or illness, for instance. Thus industrial-conflict absenteeism merely increases the loss of productivity and revenue that an organization suffers due to failure of workers to report for duty due to reasons of personal incapacity that they cannot help, such as illness.
e) Sabotage: Sabotage, another form of informal industrial conflict, occurs when employees deliberately damage their organization’s production or reputation. This could take the form of slowing down production, temporarily disabling machinery, direct destruction of organization’s property or slandering the organization. Employers who engage in sabotage (saboteurs) usually hide their individual identities, but do not shy away from identifying themselves as a pressure group.
Causes of Industrial conflicts and disputes
1) Wages and Allowances: The most important cause for disputes relates to wages. The demand for increase in wages and allowances is the most important cause of industrial disputes. The demand for wages and allowances has never been fully met because of inflation and high cost of living. High inflation results in increased cost of living resulting in never ending demands from unions. There are some more economic reasons who are the cause of industrial disputes are bonus, working conditions and working hours, modernization and automation and demand for other facilities.
2) Union Rivalry: Most organizations have multiple unions. Multiplicity of unions leads to interunion rivalries. If one union agrees to a wage settlement, another union will oppose it.
3) Political Interference: Major trade unions are affiliated to political parties. Political affiliated is not peculiar to our country alone. Even a cursory assessment of labour movements around the world would show that trade unions are, by their very nature, political and that politicization of the rule rather than the exception. Everywhere trade union have been compelled to engage in political action to obtain enough freedom from legal restraint to exercise their main industrial functions.
4) Managerial Causes: These causes include autocratic managerial attitude and defective labour policies. In this includes failures of recognize the trade union, defective recruitment policies, irregular layoff and retrenchment, defiance of agreements and codes, defective leadership, weak trade unions.
5) Unfair labour Practices: The Industrial Dispute Act, 1947 is more specific about the unfair labour practices. According to the Act, the following constitute unfair labour practices:
Ø  To interfere with, restrain from or coerce workmen in the exercise of their right to organize, form, join or assist a trade union or to engage in concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.
Ø  Threatening workmen with discharge if they join a trade union
Ø  Threatening a lockout or closure, if a trade union is organised
Ø  Granting wage increases to workmen at crucial periods of the trade union organization, with a view to undermine the efforts of the trade union at organization.
Ø  To, dominate, interfere with or contribute support, financial or otherwise, to any trade union.
6) To encourage or discourage membership in any trade union by discriminating against workmen.
7) To discharge or dismiss workmen.
8) To indulge in acts of force or violence.
9) To refuse to bargaining collectively, in good faith with the recognized trade unions.
10) To insist upon individuals workmen, who are on a legal strike, to sign a good conduct bond as a precondition to allowing them to resume work?
Prevention of Industrial Conflicts
The role of HR in these issues is crucial and have utmost importance. Human resources personnel must try to maintain harmony and peace between employer and employee. Certainly they can bridge the gap and provide significant guidance to do that. Following preventive measures can be taken to maintain industrial conflicts and problems.
1. Appointment of Labor Welfare Officer: As mentioned above, employment working conditions are the main reason of the conflicts. To check and monitor this condition, appointment of labor welfare office is must. According to the Factories Act, 1948, every factory wherein 500 or more workers are ordinarily employed, at least 1 officer must be nominated, where the numbers of workers are more than 2,500, the extra guidance and/ or additional welfare officers are mandatory to nominate to provide assistance to the welfare office.
2. Sound personnel policies: Policies should be formulated in consultation with the workers and their representative if they effective implementation. It should not be ambiguous. It should be uniform across the company to ensure fair treatment of each worker.
3. Effective grievance procedure: Efficient procedure to logged grievance is another preventive measure. As grievances normally arise in day to day working relations. HR managers can stop the emergence of industrial disputes by solving the individual problems.
4. Stable trade unions and collective bargaining: There should be recognition of right of collective bargaining of the trade unions. In any organization, great emphasis must be on mutual accommodation than conflict or unreasonable behavior. Conflicting attitude does not lead to labor relations; it might ignite the union volatile movement as they reacts by engaging in power tactics. The “give and take” approach should be adopted rather than “take or leave”. On the other hand, management should not blackmail the workers.
5. Labor's partnership in management: Involvement of workers in the management should be encouraged by making effective use of works committees, joint sessions and other procedures. It leads to effective and efficient communication between managers and workers thus improve productivity and increase effectiveness.
Settlement of conflicts
After the conflict arises, both parties should be settled that conflicts. Conflicts can be settled by following methods:
1. Investigation: Investigation is conducted by the board or committee or court nominated by the government. Basically, it is a legally based process that has a significant role to play in a number of situations. Industrial tribunals take many forms; in Germany the labor courts make legally binding judgment; in the UK tribunal decisions do not set a precedent in law and cannot establish criminal behaviors (Price 2007). Any party can submit an application at one time or both the parties at the same time to the dispute, such process called voluntary investigation. If the government constitute a tribunal without the consent of the parties to the matter then it would called compulsory. In such case, the strikes and lock-outs are requited to be ceased and employers aren't allowed to alter any term in the employment.
2. Meditation: It is an intermediate between arbitration and conciliations. In the UK, the Advisory, Conciliation, and Arbitration Service (ACAS) play a role in relation to collective disputes. Mediators make advisory recommendations that are highly aimed at preventing disputes from degenerating into industrial action (Price 2007). Recommendation made by ACAS mediators are not binding on the parties involved.
3. Conciliation: Conciliation is just a platform which gathered both parties to their differences and gives opportunity to develop their own proposed solutions. It is a process by which representative of the workers and employers are brought together before a third person (ACAS conciliator) or group of persons (board of conciliators) with a aim to convince them to end deadlock by mutual discussion. Conciliator offer advice and make recommendation to the disputes.
4. Arbitration: If the two parties involving in the issues fail to come to the solution by themselves or with the help of ACAS conciliators or mediator, who willing to submit the dispute to an impartial authority, whose judgment, they are ready to accept is called voluntary arbitration. There are essential elements in voluntary arbitration which are; (a) the voluntary submission of dispute to arbitration; (b) the subsequent attendance of witness & investigations and (c) the enforcement of an award may not be necessary.

While if parties are required to accept arbitration without any willingness are called compulsory arbitration. This situation arises when one party feels aggrieved by an act of the other. It can also be arises when the country is passing through a bad economic crisis and general public is greatly dissatisfied with the existing industrial relations and when public vast interest and the working condition have to be safeguarded and regulated by the state.

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