In workmen of Kampali Cooperative Sugar Factory Ltd v. Management of Kampli Cooperative Sugar Factory Ltd, the court held that when there is no provision regarding recognition in the statute the right cannot be enforced by writ petition. Trade unions once recognized are conferred certain rights but the trade union as such has no inherent right by itself to be recognised, it is the discretion of the management to recognize any such trade union. The law in India does not make it mandatory for managements to have unions, to recognize them or to engage in any kind of collective bargaining. However, since the constitution of India guarantees freedom of association, managements cannot follow anti-union policies. Just as tax avoidance is legal, but tax evasion is illegal, union avoidance is legal, but union evasion is not. The right to grant recognition to trade unions within the meaning of Constitution of India, art.19(1)(c) is a fundamental right or not is answered in negative because the right to form association does not carry with it the concomitant right that the association must be recognised by the employers. Hence withdrawal of recognition does not infringe the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India, art. 19(1)(c). There are various other rights and liabilities:
Objects on Which General Funds May Be Spent:
The general funds of a registered trade union shall not be spent on any other objects than the payment of salaries, allowances and expenses to the office bearers of the trade unions; expenses for the administration of the trade union; the presentation or defiance of any legal proceeding to which the trade union of any member thereof is a party; the conduct of trade disputes and compensation of members for loss arising out of trade disputes; provision of education, social or religious benefits for members; upkeep of a periodical published.
Constitution of a Separate Fund for Political Purposes:
A registered trade union may constitute a separate fund, from contributions separately levied for or made to that fund, from which payments may be made for the promotion of the civic and political interests of its members, in furtherance of any of the objects such as the payment of any expenses incurred, either directly or indirectly; the holding of any meeting or the distribution of any literature/documents in support of any such candidate; the registration of electors of the selection of a candidate for any legislative body constituted under or for any local authority; the registration of electors or the selection of a candidate for any legislative body constituted under/or for any local authority; holding of political meetings of any kind.
Criminal Conspiracy in Trade Disputes:
No office bearer or member of a registered trade union shall be liable to punishment under sub-section (2) of Section 120 B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 in respect of any agreement made between the members for the purpose of furthering any such object of the trade union as is specified in section its unless the agreement is an agreement to commit an offence.
vi) Immunity from Civil Suit in Certain Cases:
No suit or other legal proceeding shall be maintainable in any civil court against any registered trade union or any office bearer or member thereof in respect of any act done in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute to which a member of the trade union is a party on the ground only that such act induces some other person to break a contract of employment, or that is in interference with the trade, business or employment of some other person or with the right of some other person to dispose of his capital or of his labour as he wills.
Enforceability of Agreements:
Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, an agreement between the members of a registered trade union shall not be void or voidable merely by reason of the fact that any to the subjects of the agreement are in restraint of the trade.
Right to Inspect Books of Trade Unions:
The account books of a registered trade union and the list of members thereof shall be open to inspection by an office bearer or member of the trade union at such times as may be provided for in the rules of the trade union.
Effects of Change of Name and of Amalgamation:
The change in the name of a registered trade union shall not affect any rights or obligations of the trade union or render defective any legal proceeding by or against the trade union. An amalgamation of 2 or more registered trade unions shall not prejudice any right of any of such trade unions or any right of a creditor of any of them.
Under the Trade Unions Act, 1926, a registered trade union is required to submit to the Registrar of Trade Unions, information regarding its affiliation to All India Federations; on its membership at the beginning of the year, members admitted and those who left during the year, membership at the end of the year, by sex, income and expenditure and liabilities and assets statements, etc.
The number and membership of workers’ and employers’ unions classified according to industries are also compiled. It is to be noted that these statistics relate only to the unions which have been registered under the Trade Unions Act, 1926. It is not obligatory on the part of the Trade Unions to secure registration under the Act.Since registration is not obligatory, it is not possible to get data on all unions on the basis of the administrative returns under the Trade Union Act. But the facts that all registered trade unions do not submit returns and all states do not send data to the centre, clearly shows that the data as reported and published are grossly incomplete.
There are various cases that have played a major role in interpreting and shaping the law on trade unions in India. The case of All India Bank Employees’ Association v. N.I.Tribunal laid down the rights of the members of the trade unions that are encompassed within the fundamental right to freedom of expression and speech, i.e. Article 19(1)(c). They are: (i)The right of the members of the union to meet, (ii)The right of the members to move from place to place, (iii)The right to discuss their problems and propagate their views, and (iv)The right of the members to hold property, However, the case held that Article 19(1)(c) does not account for a right pertaining to the achievement of the all the objectives for which the trade union was formed. Another case which is of much importance is the case of B. Srinivasa Reddy v. Karnataka Urban Water Supply & Drainage Board Employees’ Association wherein it has been held that an unregistered trade union or a trade union whose registration has been cancelled has no rights either under the TU Act or the IDA. This case highlights the importance with respect to registration of trade unions. In the case of B.R Singh v. Union of India the court has recognized “strike” as a mode of redress for resolving the grievances of workers. In MRF United Workers Union rep. by its General Secretary v. Respondent: Government of Tamil Nadu rep. by its Secretary, Labour and Employment Department and Ors., the court has highlighted the validity of procedure for recognition of a trade union. When the State government accepts a particular procedure for recognition, it shall direct the Labour Commissioner to call upon two unions to submit their membership details as per the Code of Discipline. Subsequently, the Labour Commissioner shall decide as to which Union is a true representative union of workmen and give it a genuine recognition. Further, the court cannot permit management to claim that the Union which shows larger membership after recognition will not be recognized by management. In Balmer Lawrie Workers’ Union, Bombay and Anr. v. Balmer Lawrie & Co. Ltd. and Ors., the underlying assumption made by the SC was that a recognized union represents all the workmen in the industrial undertaking or in the industry. This case was also referred to in the MRF United Workers case. In Kalindi and Others v. Tata Locomotive and Engineering Co. Ltd the SC held that there is no right to representation as such unless the company, by its standing orders, recognizes such right.
The trends indicate that in the years to come the Indian labour market will be of dual nature. The rapidly growing Indian population would continue to expand the size of the workforce that already stands at about 400 million. The majority of the workforce would be unskilled/semi-skilled working on a casual basis. The size of the casual workforce would be further enlarged by professionals and skilled workforce engaged on a job or time contract basis. Lifetime employment, single skill, etc. would increasingly become a distinct entity. The number of government employees would continue to fall, as the recommendation of the Government’s various committees indicate. Consequently, the nature of the emerging labour market is expected to be contractual, multi-skills, flexible and knowledge-based.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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