Industrial Relations
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This article is written by Gaurav Purohit.


In simpler terms, Industrial relations manages the worker and employer connection so as to solve disputes and to diminish the opportunity of disputes towards establishing a healthy workplace. Nowadays it has become a sole obligation to every single industry to develop and maintain the latest and powerful administration relations framework to make employees motivated, satisfied and efficient. Presently Industrial relation management framework often modifies all the business and making their employees aware, the administration of Indian relation is an imperative issue since it generally increases the cooperation of employer and employees for powerful and effective working conditions.

This article looks at a moderately ignored element of Industrial connection in India, specifically judicial intervention in disputes in the industry. Through cross-examination of intervention in the judiciary in capital-labour disputes. Through a broad contextual analysis of court decisions from labour tribunals to the High Court to Supreme Court wherever applicable, the paper arranges the answers to these inquiries in the exceptional context. In brief, the role played by the Judiciary is brilliant in the areas of the working or labor class. As the Judiciary is considered as the gatekeeper and defender of the Constitution so it is in like manner its obligation to secure the basic rights of the citizens in India. Indian Labor laws are made to characterize obvious relations among employees and managers. Indian labor laws are made to shield the interests of the workers. 

Minimum Wages Act, 1948, Factories Act, 1948, Maternity Benefits Act, 1961, Payment of Bonus Act, 1965 are some significant labor laws in India. These laws have several provisions to safeguard the interests of workers of organized and unorganized sectors in India. Labour provided under the concurrent (where both central and state government has the power to make laws) list of the Indian Constitution. In the outbreak of the COVID-19, several states have given many relaxations in the labour laws in the favor of the businesses or investors with the goal that foreign investment can be attracted in their states. This relaxation caused infringement of labour laws in India.


Productivity in any organization is the result of the joint efforts of two important components specifically technological and Human Resources. The factor of production other than labour can be manipulated very easily. Nonetheless, the human viewpoint in an organization is the hardest to manage or manipulate in an appropriate perspective. The human components are the causes and the consequences of the interaction, social issues, obligations, duties, and different activities. The high pace of growth of industries, expanded technological development and complex nature of the jobs made the labour force of an organization the source of competitive achievement.

Industrial relations is that field of study which examines the relationship among the administration and the employees of an organization at the workplace and furthermore gives an instrument to settle down the different industrial disputes. This idea developed in the late nineteenth century due to the Industrial Revolution. The industry can be seen as economic activity i.e manufacturing, creating or processing of goods or service or administrations which is performed by a group of people. Relations refer to the connection and communication which relates between the business and the employer within the workplace.

The term Industrial Relations contains Industry and Relations. Industry implies any activities related to production in which an individual is engaged. It incorporates – 

  1. Primary exercises like farming, fisheries, plantation, horticulture, mining, etc.
  2. Secondary services like assembling, manufacturing, trade, transport, business, banking etc.

Economically industry implies the secondary sector where factors of production land, labour capital and enterprise or four M’s – men, materials, Money, machines are beneficially utilized with the end goal of production, and where a business organization exists. Relations imply the relations that exist in the business between the employees and his labour force. 

Literature Review

  1. Abhishek Gupta (2014) in his investigation entitled, Trade Unions and Industrial Relations, has portrayed that, in the course of the most recent 20 years, there has been significant discussion about the effect of Trade unions on Productivity, and the ramifications of various kinds of labour market arrangements for economic performance. The best method of improving competitiveness is to weaken the trade unions and eliminate the regulatory structures and rules that confine or restrict managerial decisions making. This research has reviewed a central issue to come into view is the significance of the industrial relations environment in improving performance in organizations. A positive and cooperative labour management relationship, with extensive joint decision making which appears to be advantageous to greater efficiency of the organization.
  2. Sian Moore and Stephanie Tailby (2015) communicated their perspectives in his research paper under title heading ―The changing face of employment relations: equality and diversity‖. The standard of this paper is to investigate what has befallen the idea and truth of equal pay over the past 50 years in the UK. It does as such with regards to women employment levels dependent on labour market participation however their continued over representation in part-time employment, finding the narrowed yet relentless by and overall sex pay gap in the UK. At long last, this paper recommends the need for a legal structure so as to set up equality in wages.
  3. Priya Shrivastava (2015), The New Age Path of Industrial Relations, has portrayed that the fundamental architecture of the Indian Revenue Service was set up before Independence and extras generally left untouched. The idea of this framework is profoundly concentrated and the Govt. is the fundamental mediator between capital and labour. This article gives a broad overview of industrial relations and the labour market reform debate that arises in the context of economic changes in this Country. The structure of the Indian labour market, the overwhelming size of the informal or unorganized labour force and its area outside the industrial framework is the key test confronting Indian Indian revenue service.
  4. Archna Bhat and Ravikant Swami (2014) depicted the propensity of industrial clashes in our nation, directly from the monetary changes because of changes in composition and structure base. This research found that the number of work disputes, man-days lost, and labourers association in disputes indicated a gradual decline over the recent years. The quantities of labourers engaged with strikes were more than the number of workers engaged with lockouts and the man-days lost in lockouts were more than the man-days lost in strikes. Intolerance, indiscipline and brutality were discovered to be the prime reasons for industrial disputes. Losses in production were higher in the private sector than in the public sector. The examination inferred that financial reforms positively have moved the power in the hands of the employees.

Objectives of Industrial Relations

Two goals of Industrial relations are to safeguard industrial peace and harmony between the management and the workforce and to secure the cooperation of all departments in industry. 

If we need to build up industrial harmony and peace, the labourers must be guaranteed of reasonable wages, good working conditions, sensible working hours, provision for holidays and basic necessities of life. 

Scope of Industrial Relations

Employer-Employee Relations 

The relationship that relates between the entrepreneur and the employees of a specific organization is known as the employer-employee relationship. To keep good relations, the business must treat the workers decently and should value their efforts. 

Additionally embracing the different human resource strategies like worker relations programs, promotions based on the performances of workers, making them productive employees the stakeholder of the organization. 

Group Relations 

The communication and interactions between the workers having a place with various workgroups are studied under group relations. 

Labor Relations 

In an organization, the relationship shared by the managers and the labourers is named as work relations. It incorporates their conduct, thoughts, activities and perception against one another. 

Public Relations

It is also known as community relations. The communication and relationship of the organization i.e., its proprietor, the board and the employees with the general public or external bodies are known as public relations and for the long term existence in the business, each organization has to maintain cordial public ties.

Labor Laws

The Ministry of Labor and Employment looks to secure and protect the interests of labourers when all is said in done and the individuals who comprise poor people, deprived and disadvantaged sections of the society, specifically, with due respect to establishing a solid workplace for higher production and productivity of labours, and creating and organizing vocational skill training and employment services. 

Government’s consideration is likewise centred around the advancement of welfare activities and giving social security to the workforce both in the unorganized and organized sectors, in tandem with the process of liberalization. These targets or objectives are sought to be accomplished through enactment and execution of different labour laws, which regulates the terms and conditions of service and employment of workers.

Role of Industrial Relations

Prior to the Industrial Revolution, organizations gave less consideration to the workers’ relationship with the administration and with one another. They regarded the workers as machines and focused on their production capacity and productivity. Afterwards, in the year 1920, John R. House presented the idea of Industrial relations, which underlined the effect of work relations with the administration and the business on the efficiency of the organization. 

In the modern-day world related to business where the companies are turning out to be more people-oriented and work constantly for accomplishing employee retention and satisfaction, the study of industrial relations plays a huge role in the organizations.

Important laws related to industrial relations  

  1. Employment State Insurance Act – ESI card is given, safeguarding workers against any accidents at work. There’s likewise ESI Corporation. Employees Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act – Provident fund is one in which a worker pays part of his wage mostly 12 per cent and equivalent contribution is done by the business. This is required for establishments which are employing in excess of 20 individuals.
  2. Factories Act of 1948 
  3. Child Labor Prohibition and Regulation Act – is prohibited kids who are below the age of 14 to work in dangerous or hazardous jobs. There are demands for complete restriction on child labour. 
  4. Industrial Disputes Act – One significant provision – Industries who are employing more than 100 individuals cannot terminate the employment before the approval of the government. There is a very strong demand from the industry to revise or amend this limit to encourage easy entry and exit. 
  5. Minimum Wages Act 
  6. Bonded Labor System (Abolition) Act – System in which one-time payment was made by the employer to the supplier or the head of the group and services of labour are taken for the whole season or whole year. This system is still rampant in some businesses for example Brick Kilns.
  7. Contract Labor (Regulation and Abolition) Act of 1970 – Contract labour is in an indirect way employed by an establishment through the agency or a contractor. So their relationship with the main organization becomes confusing and ambiguous. They are discriminated against by direct employees in terms of job security, status and wages etc. This act was established to abolish it in certain circumstances and to make them skilled labours and bring them at par with the direct employees.

Role of judiciary in Industrial Relations

The role of the Judiciary is of extreme importance in giving social justice to the labourers by the famous appointed judges. Like Justice Krishna Iyer in the specific case of Indian Express Newspapers Pvt. Ltd. vs. Indian Express Newspaper Employees Union said that industrial jurisprudence is not static, textually cold or rigid but it is dynamic in nature and warm with life. It answers in emphatic negative to the biblical cross-examination. The Industrial Tribunal of India in the territories abandoned by precise block letter law, which goes by the Constitutional mandate of providing social justice in the claims of the little people. It can be observed here that in-state some ideas or values will be followed and they can be achieved through different laws. These values are of utmost importance to the society because by these values the state plans to mould the society. In India, these values are known as Fundamental Principles which are given in the Constitution.

Industrial Jurisprudence is a mixture of two words ‘Industry’ and Jurisprudence. The term Jurisprudence is derived from the Latin word ‘Jurisprudentia’ and is a blend of ‘Juris’ and prudence which is a real sense signifies knowledge of the law. In this conventional and essential sense of law incorporates the entire body of legal doctrine. Holland portrays it as the ‘formal science of positive law’ and Allen as the Scientific synthesis of the important principles of law. As indicated by Patten Jurisprudence is a specific method of study and not of the law of one nation but rather of the overall thought of the law itself which isn’t fundamentally keen on cataloguing uniformities, nor in finding rules which all countries acknowledge, yet to contemplate the idea of law, the nature of legal institutions and their relationship with the general public.

The Supreme Court in India and High Courts under the boundaries of Constitutional Philosophy has played a special role through their power of Judicial Review which has offered to reform the techniques, approaches and interpretations as opposed to attitudes which are adopted by the employers gradually and systematically new industrial jurisprudence as grown with a decisive thought of social justice. The Contributions made by higher Judiciary in India in this direction has been positive. Confidence in the rule of law propels us to comprehend the implications of Constitutional Law in labour relations and industrial adjudication as in regard to Industrial Jurisprudence it is said that Constitutional law is the standard to the advancement of Industrial Jurisprudence in India. The Industrial Jurisprudence is highly value-oriented and seeks to attain just and social order. The Industrial Disputes Act of 1947 desired in achieving social and economic justice which is the main objective of industrial Jurisprudence.

The Judiciary has pronounced landmark decisions in regard to many elements contacting the field of employer-employee relations. As due to new interpretations the whole industrial philosophy has undergone a radical change. 

Among the landmark cases, the meaning of Industry was interpreted in the Bangalore waterworks case. Following was the position prior and then afterwards the industry was redefined by the Apex court in the year 1978.

Revolutionary decisions which influenced Industrial Relations choices influencing Industrial Relations 

 The industry has gone through an exceptional change because of quick industrialisation. The new idea of industry needs to oblige all the modern needs without much dislocation and disorganization of the society and also keeping the ideas of a welfare state in mind. 

  • The term Industry was characterized in S. 2(j) and clarified generally in D.N. Banerjee vs. P.R. Mukherji AIR 1958 SC 58 was as per the following: 
  1. Where there is a systematic activity,
  2. Organized by cooperation among employer and employee the direct and substantial element is commercial representative the direct and substantial component is business,
  3. For the production and distribution of goods and services to satisfy human wants and needs like making on a large scale there will be an industry in that particular enterprise.
  4. Absence of profit intention or gainful objective is insignificant be the venture in the general public, joint, private or any other sector. 
  5. The true concentration in functional and the decisive test is the idea of the activity with special emphasis on the relations between employer and employee.
  6. If the organization is a trade or business it does not stop to be one on account of philanthropy maintaining the undertaking. But on 21st February 1978, the Supreme Court in its seven judges bench overruled the several landmark cases like: 

(i) Safdarjung Hospital case 

(ii) The Solicitor’s case 

(iii) The Madras Gymkhana case 

(iv) The University of Delhi case 

  • The Supreme Court, overruling these cases above interpreted the law with regards to what is an industry, which still is in power in industrial corridors, the way things are in the wake of the Amendment Act 1982 and notice date. 21.8.84. In this manner, 1978 is considered as a new era period as regards the understanding of the term ‘Industry’ set down in the case, Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board vs. A Rajappa and others AIR 1978 SC 548. This case is prominently called as the Bangalore Water Works Case. The Bangalore Water Works Case set down after rules to decide if the said establishment is an industry or not. As per the High Court, all things considered, the idea of the expression ‘industry’ has been put on an exceptionally wide canvas. In this way, the individuals who fight that a specific establishment isn’t an industry should satisfy the Court that the particular establishment falls outside the limits as recommended by the Supreme Court. 
  • In the case of Western India Automobile Association vs. Industrial Tribunal had brought up that in light of a legitimate concern for social justice with the end goal of securing harmony and peace between the manager and the workmen industrial adjudication imposes new obligations or abolishing the old ones or after the current terms and condition of employment in the event that it thought to do as such. This opinion of the Federal Court was upheld in the same manner by the Supreme Court in Bharat Bank Ltd. vs. the Employees of Bharat Bank Ltd and other cases.

In the post-independence period, India adopted the philosophy of economic and social justice and the production target by introducing a scheme of the mixed economy to avoid the loss of production which is caused by the recurring industrial strike. Hence the government adopted a lockout ban policy to maintain the peace and harmony in the industry with quasi-democratic measures which would assure the workers association in non-important issues.

The Government of India presented a system of compulsory conciliation and adjudication machinery to achieve the goal of industrial peace, social justice and productivity as there are some workers who are weak and also incapable to bargain with the employer and settle the disputes. With a view to promoting industrial democracy, the judiciary made new dimensions in the maintenance of industrial relations. 

  • The Apex Court in the case of J.K. Iron and Steel Company Ltd. vs. Iron and Steel Mazdoor Union Justice Vivien Bose talking from the Supreme Court laid down that the decision of the Tribunal must be based on established principles and not import any thought of alleged justice or compulsion to safeguard the workman interest. Mr Bose said that undue advantage to the labourer should not be given by evolving the idea of socio-economic justice.
  • Justice Hidayatullah noticed in the case of  Rashtriya Mill Mazdoor Sangh vs. Apollo Mills Ltd., that the social justice did not depend on legally binding relations (contractual relations) and isn’t to be implemented on the principles of contracts, of service, and it is something outside these principles and is invoked to do justice without a contract to back it.
  • In the particular case Standard Vacuum Refining Company vs. Its Workmen, with a view to explain the transformation of ideas and conception of labour, the doctrine of welfare state confined and it is rooted deeply in the country’s progressive philosophy of government assistance state-bound and directed profoundly in the country’s which rendered the concept of the tradition of laissez-faire supreme. And where the social consciousness of the general community becomes more dynamic and alive, the policy of the welfare state becomes more dynamic. The labour problem ceases to be purely arithmetical and physical satisfaction.
  • In the case of J.K. Cotton Spinning and Weaving Mills Company Ltd. vs. Labour Appellate Tribunal, it was observed by the court of law that the goal or object of industrial adjudication is to help the progress and growth of the economy of the country.
  • In the case of B.R. Singh vs. Union of India, Justice Ahmadi was of the view that the right to strike can’t be compared to that of the fundamental right. Strike in a given circumstance is a type of demonstration. There are various methods of demonstration, eg. Go-slow, sit in, work to rule, non-attendance,  and work. A strike is one such method of the demonstration by the workers for their rights. The right to demonstrate and thus the right to strike is a significant weapon in the armoury of the workers. The right has been perceived by practically all democratic nations. Though not raised to the high platform of a fundamental right, it is perceived as a method of redress for settling the complaints of the workers. However, the right to strike isn’t absolute under our industrial jurisprudence and restrictions have been set under it.
  • In the State of Madras vs. C. Parthasarathi, it was observed by the court that rather the Government has power in the interest of industrial production to set the machinery of the settlement of disputes in motion without pausing to inquire about what the specific points of the disputes were.


Labour market is significant and the most sensitive issue in our nation. While making labour reforms the officials need to consider the interest of all the stakeholders related to it. It ought not so to happen that the change impacts any of the party in a manner which isn’t so acceptable or desirable. The perspective of workers needs to change and be more acceptable with regard to changes. Let them be aware that every change will not result in the loss of jobs for them or their fellow members. The Union Government as a major aspect of labour law reforms has embraced the drive to rationalize 38 Labor Acts by outlining 4 labour codes viz Code on Wages, Code on Social Security, Code on Industrial Relations and Code on Occupational Safety, well being and working conditions. The codification of labour Laws will eliminate an assortment of definitions and specialists promoting simplicity of compliance without compromising wage security and social security to all the workers. Trusting that this will bring updates which are applicable in the present time and the changes or reforms are not made for the sake of it. 

The Supreme Court of India assumed a significant job especially in ensuring the interest of helpless local workers by ignoring the strict legally binding laws and gave social justice to them. The role played by the Judiciary in giving justice and furthermore to the maintenance of good labour and the management relations. There is no uncertainty that justice alone can maintain relations between the representatives and employers and by which a country can accomplish productivity and industrial peace and harmony.

Industrial Relations is essential for achieving democracy as it allows the workers to take part in the management, which helps to ensure and protect the human rights of individuals. In today’s world, the organizations realize that Human Resource is the biggest asset and are adopting policies like job rotation, competence building etc which promotes the overall development of the workers and hence it helps in maintaining and establishing good relations at the workplace.


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