The next stage in the development of industrial law in this country was taken under the stress of emergency caused by the Second World War. Rule 81-A of the Defense of India Rules was intended to provide speedy remedies for industrial disputes by referring them compulsorily to conciliation or adjudication, by making the awards legally binding on the parties and by prohibiting strikes or lock-outs during the pendency of conciliation or adjudication proceedings and for two months thereafter. This rule also put a blanket ban on strikes which did not arise out of genuine trade disputes.
With the termination of the Second World War, Rule 81-A was about to lapse on 1st October 1946, but it was kept alive by issuing an Ordinance in the exercise of the Government’s Emergency Powers. Then followed the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. The provisions of this Act, as amended from time to time, have furnished the basis on which industrial jurisprudence in this country is founded.
The objective of the Industrial Disputes Act is to secure industrial peace and harmony by providing machinery and procedure for the investigation and settlement of industrial disputes by negotiations.
The laws apply only to the organised sector. Chapter V-B, introduced by an amendment in 1976, requires firms employing 300 or more workers to obtain government permission for layoffs, retrenchments and closures. A further amendment in 1982 (which took effect in 1984) expanded its ambit by reducing the threshold to 100 workers.
The Act also lays down:
- The provision for payment of compensation to the workman on account of closure or lay off or retrenchment.
- The procedure for prior permission of appropriate Government for laying off or retrenching the workers or closing down industrial establishments
- Unfair labor practices on part of an employer or a trade union or workers.
The Industrial Disputes Act extends to the whole of India and applies to every industrial establishment carrying on any business, trade, manufacture or distribution of goods and services irrespective of the number of workmen employed therein.
Every person employed in an establishment for hire or reward including contract labour, apprentices and part-time employees to do any manual, clerical, skilled, unskilled, technical, operational or supervisory work, is covered by the Act.
This Act though does not apply to persons mainly in managerial or administrative capacity, persons engaged in a supervisory capacity and drawing > 10,000 p.m or executing managerial functions and persons subject to Army Act, Air Force and Navy Act or those in police service or officer or employee of a prison.
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