STATISTICS ON INDUSTRIAL DISPUTES, CLOSURES, RETRENCHMENTS
AND LAY-OFFS IN INDIA DURING THE YEAR, 2007
The present edition on Statistics of “Industrial Disputes, Closures, Retrenchments and Lay-offs in India during 2007” is based on the voluntary returns received every month from the Labour Departments of the States and the Regional Labour Commissioner (Central). The statistics of Industrial Disputes which resulted in temporary stoppage of work either by the employees of an establishment who resorted to Strikes to express a grievance, to enforce a demand or by an employer (or a group of employers) who withhold work from the employees in an establishment in connection with matters relating to employment or non-employment or terms and conditions of employment. Thus, both types of work-stoppages known as Strikes and Lockouts take place as and when there is lack of mutual understanding, difference of opinion and failure to settle the disputes between the managements and the workers / labour trade unions. The conflicts between the managements and workers are inevitable as both rationalize their gains and losses in economic activities.
The Departments of Labour in the States and Regional Labour Commissioners (Central) collect the basic information from the affected Primary Units in respect of the work stoppages in the State and Central Spheres respectively on account of strikes and lockouts. They collect the required information from the affected primary units under their jurisdiction on uniform lines laid down for the purpose whenever such occurrence of a work-stoppage becomes known either directly or from the supplementary sources like police records etc. as per the practice in vogue in different States / areas. This information is collected on a voluntary basis and furnished by the aforesaid authorities in consolidated monthly returns to the Labour Bureau on or before 25th of the each succeeding month.
Labour Bureau receives information in respect of only those temporary work-stoppages which include (a) strikes, (b) lockouts, and (c) gheraos followed by lockouts and involving 10 or more workers, whether directly and/or indirectly. Work-stoppages which involve less than 10 workers are not included / accounted for. Similarly, political strikes, sympathetic demonstrations etc., are not included, as they are not connected with any specific dispute, grievance or demand of the workers and are beyond the competence of their employers to redress. The data for such work- stoppages have separately been presented in Chapter-4 of the publication.
Labour Bureau organizes every year a training programme for the benefit of concerned officers from the States / Union Territories and Central agencies, to ensure correct filling up of the proformae returns and to bring conceptual clarity about the terms used in Industrial Disputes Act. However, inspite of this, there are discrepancies found in data submitted to Labour Bureau which is referred back for clarification. It is also the experience of the Labour Bureau that the clarifications to its scrutiny letters are sometimes received very late. Since the Bureau has to compile and disseminate the all-India statistics within a reasonable period of time, it becomes difficult to wait indefinitely for the receipt of all pending returns / clarifications. After have a cut-off date, the available data is finalized. Therefore, in some cases some variation in the data compiled by the Labour Bureau and the data released by the concerned States cannot be ruled out because of the difference in the cut off dates. This problem is being solved by reconciliation of data with CLC(C) and the State of West Bengal. However, the resource constraints do not permit Bureau to ensure reconciliation with all the States and Union Territories.
The two most important components of the statistics on Industrial Disputes are: the maximum number of workers affected directly or indirectly on any day during the entire period of the work-stoppage and secondly, the number of man-days lost which is obtained by adding up the actual resultant absences caused directly or indirectly by the work-stoppages, in each shift of the potential working day (excluding weekly-off and other scheduled holidays when the establishments would have otherwise remained closed even if no work stoppages had taken place). The other components are (i) the number of disputes, (ii) duration of disputes (iii) wages lost and (iv) the value of production loss. It is also important to know that the statistics relating to the number of disputes, workers involved and and duration are three independent variables, while the statistics of man-days lost, wages lost and the value of production loss are mainly dependent for their increase or decrease upon the three aforesaid independent variables.
The statistics of Industrial disputes have been presented in four Parts. ‘Chapter-1’ presents a brief numeric comparison of the industrial disputes and the resultant man-days lost which occurred in the country during the years 2007 and 2006. In ‘Chapter-2’ a detailed analysis of the work stoppages, which took place during 2007 by months, states/union territories and industries etc. for the public and private sectors taken together, has been presented. In addition to this, all India Strikes / Lockouts have also been presented. ‘Chapter-3’ contains the information on the work-stoppages, which took place during 2007 in the public sector alone. ‘Chapter-4’ deals with the statistics relating to Political / Sympathetic Strikes and Disputes due to reasons other than Industrial Disputes.
The second part of this edition presents data on permanent Closures of industrial establishments due to industrial disputes and reasons other than industrial disputes like financial stringency, lack of demand for the products, shortage of raw materials etc. Retrenchments and Lay-offs of workers. The second part again is divided in three parts. The ‘Chapter-5’ of second part contains data on Closures of industrial establishments, sphere, sector, state, cause and year-wise. The Chapter-6 presents data on Retrenchments of workers in industrial establishments by years, spheres, sectors, states and cause-wise. The Chapter-7 contains data on Lay-Offs of workers during 2007.
The glossary of terms and concepts used in this edition are explained below as defined in the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947:
Work stoppage means a temporary stoppage of normal activity in an industrial unit as a result of which the workers employed in the unit are forced to remain away from their usual duties. Such a work stoppage may be either due to industrial dispute or for reasons other than industrial disputes, viz. financial stringency, strategic considerations, breakdown of machinery, natural calamities, accumulation of stock, lack of demand, shortage of raw materials, or failure of power, legal disputes. Thus, the work stoppages are generally known as strikes and lockouts.
Section 2(j) of the Industrial Disputes Act , 1947 defines industry as any business, trade, undertaking , manufacture or calling of employers and includes any calling, service, employment, handicraft, or industrial occupation or avocation of workmen.
The Act defines the industrial disputes as a dispute between:
i) a) employers and employers;
b) employers and workmen;
c) workmen and workmen;
ii) The dispute or difference should be connected with the (a) employment or non-
employment, or (b) terms of employment or conditions of labour of any workmen;
iii) The dispute may be in relation to any workman or workmen or any other person in
whom they are interested as a body.
The section 2(q) of the Act defines the term strike as (i) cessation of work by a body of workmen employed in any industry acting in combination; or (ii) concerted refusal of any number of workers who are or have been employed in any industry to continue to work or to accept employment; or (iii) a refusal under a common understanding of any number of workers who are or have been employed in any industry to continue to work or to accept employment.
‘Lockout’ as defined in Section 2(l) means the “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”
Section 2(s) of the Act defines “workman” as any person (including an apprentice) employed in any industry to do any skilled or unskilled , manual, supervisory, technical or clerical work for hire or reward, whether the terms of employment be expressed or implied, and for the purposes of any proceedings under this Act in relation to an industrial dispute, includes, any such person who has been dismissed, discharged or retrenched in connection with or as a consequence of that dispute or whose dismissal , discharge or retrenchment has led to that dispute.
Section 2(g) of the Act States the meaning of the word employer in relation to industries carried on by or under the authority of (i) Central Government; (ii) State Government, and (iii) Local Authorities.
The employer means, in relation to an Industry carried on by or under the authority of any department of the Central Government or a State Government, the authority prescribed in this behalf, or where no such authority is prescribed the head of the department.
In addition to strikes and lockouts, another form of industrial dispute that has gained eminence lately is “Gherao” which means physical blockade, partial or complete, of a target either by encirclement intended to block the regress and ingress from and to a particular office, workshop, factory or even residence or forcible occupation of such premises. The target may be a place or a person or persons, usually the managerial or supervisory staff of an industrial establishment.
Closure under section 2(cc) of the Industrial Disputes Act of 1947 is defined as the permanent closing down of a place of employment or a part thereof, and is taken as one which may have occurred due to industrial disputes or also because of reasons other than industrial disputes such as financial stringency, shortage of power or raw material or coal, inter / intra union rivalries, accumulation of stocks, lack of demand, breakdown of machinery, indiscipline, violence etc. The closure do not include off season closures.
Retrenchment connotes in its ordinary acceptance that the business itself is being continued, but that apportion of the labour force is discharged as surplus. It means the discharge of surplus labour by the employer for any reason whatsoever. Section 2(oo) of the Act defines the term “retrenchment” which means:
(1) The termination by the employer of the services of a workmen;
(2) The termination may be for any reason whatsoever;
(3) But the termination should not be a measure of punishment by way of disciplinary action.
The following are not retrenchment:
(1) Voluntary retirement of a workmen, or
(2) Retirement of a workmen on reaching the age of superannuation if the contract of employment between the employer and the workmen concerned contains a stipulation in that behalf, or
(3) Termination of the service of a workman on the ground of continued ill-health.
Lay-off has been defined in Section 2(kkk) of the Industrial Disputes Act as the failure, refusal or inability of an employer on account of shortage of coal, power, or raw materials or the accumulation of stock, the breakdown of machinery, natural calamity or for any other connected reason, to give employment to a workman whose name is borne on the muster rolls of his industrial establishment and who has not been retrenched.
The sphere refers to the jurisdiction of the State or Central Agencies to execute the provision of the Act, act as arbitrators for settlement of disputes between the workers and the employers, enforce the settlement of disputes in their jurisdiction and reports the occurrence of such disputes.
· POLITICAL/SYMPETHETIC STRIKRS:
The strikes resorted to by workers of an industrial establishments not because of any disputes connected with industrial disputes, grievance, or demand of the workers and are beyond the competence of the employer to redress. Generally such strikes are resorted to for some political cause or in sympathy of workers of other industrial establishments as solidarity.