“Industrial Dispute” under Industrial Dispute Act, 1947

Introduction: – Consequences of an industrial dispute can never be said to be good, because they are very far reaching, and may disturb the economic, social and political life of a country. The main objective of the Industrial dispute Act, 1947 is to investigate and settle industrial disputes. In this article we will understand in simplest terms, what dispute comes under the definition of “Industrial dispute”.

Section 2(k) of the Industrial Dispute Act defines industrial dispute as: –

Any conflict (dispute or difference) between –

  • Employers and Employers.
  • Employers and workmen.
  • Workmen and workmen.

The dispute must be connected (Subject) with the following –

  • Employment or non-employment.
  • Terms of employment.
  • Conditions of labour.

Of any person.

Dispute or Difference: –

In case Sambhu Nath v. Bank of Baroda AIR 1978 SC 1088, the Supreme Court tried to explain the terms dispute or difference as, a real and substantial difference having some element of persistency and continuity till resolved and likely, if not adjudicated, to endanger the industrial peace of the undertaking of the community.

Subject Matter of Dispute: –

In case Western Indian Automobiles Association v. Industrial Tribunal AIR 1949 FC 111 the Federal Court explained employment or non-employment, the court held that to employ or the refusal to employ are actions on the part of employer which would be covered by the expression “employment or non-employment”. However, the subject matter of non-employment includes dismissal, discharge or retrenchment of the workmen by the employer.

Terms of employment: –

It includes wages, bonus, profit-sharing, provident fund and gratuity payable by the employer to the workmen.

Conditions of Labour: –

It has a wider meaning than term of employment. It generally includes hour of work, rest intervals, leave with wages, holidays, provisions of health safety and welfare provided to the workmen.  

Industrial Dispute Raised by group of workmen: –

Only a dispute raised by group of workmen is classified as industrial dispute, but a dispute raised by an individual and supported by group of workmen is also classified as industrial dispute u/s 2(k) of the act.

Industrial Dispute by Individual: –

By inserting section 2-A into the act, an individual dispute can be classified into industrial dispute, and the scope of industrial dispute has been widened.

Section 2-A has limited application i.e. not every individual dispute is industrial dispute, but even the individual dispute not supported by amount of workmen can be treated as industrial dispute, provided that, there must be community of interest.

In case State of West Bengal v. Jute and Jute Goods Buffer Stock Association 1973 Lab IC 1243 SC, the Supreme Court held that, “ it appears to us that the object of making a classification in Section 2-A is to protect an individual workman, deprived of his employment to get the benefit of Industrial Dispute Act and to eliminate the seed of dissatisfaction and industrial unrest at their very root, before it is aggravated or spread over to a large body of workmen apprehending threat of industrial strife”.

Dharangadhara Chemical Works v. State of Saurashtra AIR 1956 SC 264

The company takes lease for salt work and licence for manufacturing salt, which is manufactured from rain water and sea water. Area was divided into small portions called Pattas. Agarias (worker) were allotted pattas and were paid year to year. when salt crystalises, the company examines the salt and pays agarias accordingly. The rejected salt was not allowed to sell by agarias. A supervisor was employed by the company to supervise all the system. Their was not rule, leave, any order for timing for agarias. Agarias leave to their villages in rainy season and return after. In 1957, agarias get in dispute with the company. The government referred the dispute to the Industrial Tribunal which held that agarias comes under the definition of the workmen.

Company moved to High Court u/a 226 and argued that agarias are not workmen but are private contractors.

Court held the: – A contract of service is different from a contract for service.

In Contract of service: – Master can order what is to be done.

In Contract for service: – Master can order what is to be done, and how it is done.

There was total supervision of master by supervisor over the agarias. Hence, what is to be done, and how it is done existed. Hence, agarias fall under the definition of workmen and the dispute can be referred to Industrial Tribunal.

Reference: –

Meenu Paul – Labour and Industrial Laws.

Cases referred: –

  • Sambhu Nath v. Bank of Baroda AIR 1978 SC 1088.
  • Western Indian Automobiles Association v. Industrial Tribunal AIR 1949 FC 111.
  • State of West Bengal v. Jute and Jute Goods Buffer Stock Association 1973 Lab IC 1243 SC.
  • Dharangadhara Chemical Works v. State of Saurashtra AIR 1956 SC 264.

Aishwarya Says:

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