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Industrial Relations during Pre-Independence and Post-Independence

Name : N. Michael Barath Reg No : 3511040098 Assignment No: 1 Subject : Industrial Relations

Industrial Relations in India Introduction Prior to 1991, the industrial relations system in India sought to control conflicts and disputes through excessive labour legislations. These labour laws were protective in nature and covered a wide range of aspects of workplace industrial relations like laws on health and safety of labours, layoffs and retrenchment policies, industrial disputes and the like. The basic purpose of these laws was to protect labours. However, these protectionist policies created an atmosphere that led to increased inefficiency in firms, over employment and inability to introduce efficacy. With the coming of globalization, the 40 year old policy of protectionism proved inadequate for Indian industry to remain competitive as the lack of flexibility posed a serious threat to manufacturers because they had to compete in the international market. With the advent of liberalization in1992, the industrial relations policy began to change.

Now, the policy was tilted towards employers. Employers opted for workforce reduction, introduced policies of voluntary retirement schemes and flexibility in workplace also increased. Thus, globalization brought major changes in industrial relations policy in India. The changes can be summarized as follows:

Collective bargaining in India has mostly been decentralized, but now in sectors where it was not so, are also facing pressures to follow decentralization. Some industries are cutting employment to a significant extent to cope with the domestic and foreign competition e.g. pharmaceuticals. On the other hand, in other industries where the demand for employment is increasing are experiencing employment growths.

In the expansionary economy there is a clear shortage of managers and skilled labour. The number of local and enterprise level unions has increased and there is a significant reduction in the influence of the unions. Under pressure some unions and federations are putting up a united front e.g. banking. Another trend is that the employers have started to push for internal unions i.e. no outside affiliation. HR policies and forms of work are emerging that include, especially in multi-national companies, multi-skills, variable compensation, job rotation etc. These new policies are difficult to implement in place of old practices as the institutional set up still needs to be changed.

HRM is seen as a key component of business strategy. Training and skill development is also receiving attention in a number of industries, especially banking and information technology. Post-Independence of Industrial relations

In free India, this legacy was given statutory recognition when the legal provisions for regulating industrial relations were embodied in the Industrial Disputes Act. Enacted in 1947.

This Act provided for : (i) the establishment of a permanent machinery for the settlement of disputes in the shape of certain authorities like Works Committees, Conciliation Officers,

Industrial Tribunals, Labour Courts, etc. and (ii) making an award of a Tribunal or any settlement brought by the Conciliator binding on the parties and legally enforceable. The Act seeks the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes in all industries through conciliation, arbitration and adjudication. Apart from providing machinery for the settlement of industrial disputes, it also seeks to prohibit strikes and lock-outs during the pendency of conciliat6ion and adjudication proceedings. The amendment made in the Act, in 1976, places restraints on the employers; power to 'layoff' or retrench a worker, or to impose closure. Besides bringing this enactment, two major efforts made were to amend the Trade Unions Act, 1926-once in 1947 and them again in 1950. in 1947, a law was enacted which defined unfair employer practices and also unfair union practices. It provided for the compulsory recognition of representative unions by employers and for the arbitration of disputes over the certification of unions as representative unions. These amendments were break with the colonial British traditions, and were influenced by the American National Labour Relations Act (popularly known as Wagner Act) of 1935. Unfortunately these amendments to the Trade Unions Act never came into force. The newly formed INTUC union did not favour some of the changes. The employers were also not enthusiastic. Some of the unions did not like the exclusion of civil services and other categories of government employees and of supervisory personnel form the scope of the Act. In 1950, two Bills were brought by the government-a Labour Relations Bill and a Trade Unions Bill. The retained the provisions of 1947 amendments. They also introduced the principle that Collective bargaining would be compulsory for both employers and unions under stipulated conditions. The Labour Courts were empowered to certify unions as Sole bargaining agents. All corrective collective agreements were to provide for peaceful settlement without work-stoppage, of all questions arising out of such agreements by arbitration or otherwise. however, the draft Bill lapsed with the dissolution of Parliament. As a reaction to the legislative approach (as advocated by Jagjivan Ram, the then Labour Minister, 1947-52) V.V.Giri, (1952-57) advocated his Giri Approach in terms of voluntary negotiations and collective bargaining in a tripartite relationship. The movement towards a non-legal industrial relations system was a new trend. He proclaimed that industrial adjudication was labor's enemy No. 1' The short-lived tenure of Shri Giri ushered in new spirit in the field of industrial relations.

Pre Independence of Industrial relations

The State intervention in labour/industrial relations matter had its beginning when the British Government in India was constrained to protect its commercial interests in this country.

The I.L.O. Publication observes, far from protecting the interest of labour, the earlier attempts to regulate labour consisted of enactments such as the Assam Labour Act, the Workmen's Breach of Contract Act, 1859,and the Employers' and Workmen's (Disputes) Act of 1860. these Acts aimed at protecting the social system against labour rather than protecting labour against the social system. Deterioration of working conditions, because of greater development of industrial units; unduly low wages and consequent dissatisfaction among the working class; growing indiscipline of workers; strained relations between labour-management; the formation of ILO; the emergence of AITUC (1920) and demands for higher wages, improved conditions of work and living-led to serious industrial troubles and created labour problems of large dimensions. The situation became unmanageable in Bombay and Bengal. Hence, committees were appointed to look into the matter. The beginning of the industrial relations' dynamics can be traced back'. As one author puts it, to the inception of the Indian Labour Conference as far back as 1942, by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, when the policy of bringing together the three parties, namely, the Government, Management and Labour on a common platform as a consultative tripartite forum for all matters of labour policy and industrial relations was accepted. When the Second World War broke out, the Government of India passed in Defense of India Rules and incorporated in them Section 81A, which : (i) banned strikes and lock-outs in any trade with a view of ensuring continuous supplies for the requirements of the war, and (ii) provided for compulsory adjudication of industrial disputes.