When does a strike become illegal?
The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, puts certain general restrictions on the freedom of the workmen employed in any establishment to go on strike. In addition to these general restrictions the Act also puts certain special restrictions on the freedom of the workmen employed in any public utility establishment to go on strike. Strikes in public utility establishments are considered to be more serious than those in other establishments and they are, therefore, subjected to additional restrictions.
The following are the instances of an illegal strike on the part of workmen employed in any establishment:-
(1) A dispute might have been referred to a Board of Conciliation in order that it is amicably settled between the parties. A strike resorted to during the pendency of proceedings before a Board of Conciliation is, therefore, treated as an illegal strike.
(2) A dispute might have been referred to a Labour Court, Industrial Tribunal or National Industrial Tribunal for adjudication. In such circumstances the parties are expected to await an award. A strike resorted to during the pendency of proceedings before any of these authorities is, therefore, treated as an illegal strike.
(3) A dispute might have been referred to the arbitration of a person. In such circumstance the parties are expected to await an award. A strike resorted to during the pendency of proceedings before an arbitrator, is therefore, treated as an illegal strike.
(4) Settlements and awards are binding on the workmen and the workmen are not supposed to make any demand inconsistent with a settlement or award while It is in operation. A strike resorted to during any period in which a settlement or award is in operation, if it is in respect of any matter covered by the settlement or award, is therefore, treated as an illegal strike. S.23
A strike resorted to by workmen employed in a public utility establishment is illegal:-
(1) If they do not give to the employer notice of the strike within 6 weeks before commencing the strike; or
(2) If they go on strike within 14 days of giving such notice; or
(3) If they go on strike before the expiry of the date specified in such notice for commencing the strike: or
(4) If they go on strike during the pendency of any conciliation proceedings before a conciliator and during 7 days after the conclusion of such proceedings. S.22
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