Dispute Resolution

Union Representation in Employment Arbitration

Arbitration is a method of resolving disputes. Instead of a third party helping disputing parties find common ground, arbitration. It entails a binding ruling that puts an end to their disagreement. In arbitration, the parties give the arbitrator the authority to decide the issues. Each of the parties to a dispute accepts the decision of the arbitrator.

The Union Arbitration Process

It is the process of settling disputes between a union and an employer over the interpretation or application of a collective bargaining agreement. To resolve workplace conflicts in the absence of a union, businesses can use arbitration by creating an employment contract or policy.

When it comes to arbitration, both sides will submit their cases and dispute their points with their witnesses. Although the stringent rules of evidence employed by courts do not apply in most cases, the arbitrator makes a decision and gives an award after the hearing. Limitations apply to the right of appeal.

Collective Bargaining in India

As per definition, collective bargaining is “the process by which disputes over employment conditions are handled amicably by agreement rather than coercion.”[1] A process of discussion and negotiation between an employer and employees about the terms of employment and working conditions is involved. Unions represent workers when it comes to addressing their grievances about service conditions and wages. According to the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (“IDA”), refusing to bargain collectively in good faith with the employer is an unfair labor practice.

As a result, businesses are more likely to take action to address the concerns of their employees. It makes this Collective bargaining in India, on the other hand, is a difficult legal process.

Charter of Demands

As a rule, the union tells the employer that it wants to engage in collective bargaining. The employer can commence collective bargaining by alerting the union in specific circumstances (s).

It’s up to the union reps to create a “charter of demands” through numerous talks and consultations with the union. It usually contains information about salary, bonuses, working hours, benefits, allowances, and terms of employment such as holidays and vacations. While the employer prefers that all unions submit a common charter of demands, all unions are free to submit their own.


Immediately following the filing of a charter of demands by union representatives, discussions commence. The company and the unions prepare for such negotiations by collecting data, formulating policies, and settling on a bargaining strategy before the negotiations begin.

As a result of the preparation process, unions and the employer engage in debates and discussions. The union makes requests, after which negotiations take place. These demands, if not met, the union may opt to strike.

Negotion with employes joining unions

As a result of the employer’s involvement with various unions, the collective bargaining process could take months or more if you’re working for the government. It took the Joint Wage Negotiating Committee for the Steel Industry, which represents employees in four significant unions, more than three years from the charter of demands submission to the Steel Authority of India Ltd. (SAIL).[2]


Suppose both sides are unable to agree on a collective agreement, which can result in a strike. According to the IDA, employees of public utilities must give six weeks’ notice of a strike and may strike fourteen days after giving such notice (a ‘cooling down period’). At the time, conciliation proceedings progressed, on both sides, were prohibited from taking industrial action. As well as for at least two months thereafter.[4]


Upon receipt of a strike or lockout notice, the conciliation officer initiates a conciliation procedure. “Cooling off” is a period of time during which the state government may appoint a conciliation commissioner to examine and mediate disputes to facilitate[5] As an alternative, it has the power to appoint a Board of Conciliation, which is constituted of a chairman and either two or four members.[6] During the conciliation process, there can be no strikes.[7]

When conciliation takes place

If conciliation and mediation fail, parties may elect to resort to arbitration. the state or central government appoints a voluntary arbitrator; if both parties agree on a third party to arbitrate.

Alternatively, arbitration may be compelled because the arbitrator makes recommendations to the parties without their consent. And, as per rules, both parties must accept the arbitrator’s decision.[8]

Use of conciliation

To resolve long-term industrial issues, such as strikes and lockouts, each state government has established a labor court or industrial tribunal consisting of one person. As a result of Section 7B, the central government must establish national tribunals to adjudicate industrial disputes. It involves matters of national interest or issues involving more than one state. One person was nominated to serve the national tribunal. Along with him, the government appoints two other advisers.

Result of Conciliation

A written agreement between the employer and the workers might refer a labor issue to a labor court, industrial tribunal, or national tribunal for adjudication and/or compulsory arbitration if conciliation and mediation fail to resolve it. The final decision on the industrial dispute is resolved in a time span of six months of the inquiry. [9] According to the arbitration agreement, all parties must sign and return a copy to the appropriate government office and conciliation officer within one month after receiving it.[10]

Recent Developments

In recent years, unions have used strikes as aggressive collective bargaining tactics, resulting in union-backed strikes in the Indian automotive industry that have resulted in a significant drop in earnings for individual corporations. Three thousand employees and supporters of Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India went on strike, causing the firm to lose Rs. 1.2 billion. As a result of union-backed violence at one of Maruti Suzuki’s operations in 2012, the plant had to be temporarily shut down.[11]

Other Developments

Also, the government’s labor changes in numerous areas such as coal and insurance have caused a tremendous deal of dissent. This is mostly due to the Indian government’s de-nationalization and privatization legislation, which has impacted these industries in various ways.[12]

It’s worth noting, for example, that in 2014, the government introduced the Coal Ordinance (Special Provisions) Bill, which aims to reallocate coal blocks through an e-auction process.[13] Coal India Ltd. and Singareni Collieries Company Ltd. unions went on a five-day strike. It is said to hurt the power sector, even though these companies have increased coal supplies to the various sectors to limit work disruptions to reduce disruptions.[14] As a result of FDI and disinvestment policies, it appears that insurance sector unionists are also planning similar strikes.[15]

Present scenario

Today, unions play a large role in employee welfare activities and cultural programs, banking and medical facilities, and generating awareness through training and education.

Because of this, managers’ primary goals in collective bargaining have been to minimize labor costs, boost production or productivity, and improve flexibility in work organization (multi-skilling/ multifunction, changes in worker grades, etc.), increasing work duration, reducing regular staff strength via VRS, stress on quality and so on,[16]

Further comments

Some recent developments are isolated incidents; as most unions succeed in creating an environment that encourages a positive dialogue between employees and bosses.

[1] Karol Leather Karamchari Sangathan v. Liberty Footwear Company, (1989) 4 SCC 448

[2] P.D. Shenoy, Voluntary bipartite approaches towards industrial peace: Indian experience (Bangkok, ILO, 1991), pp. 17-26

[3] Industrial Disputes Act 1947, s 22.

[4]Industrial Disputes Act 1947, s 23.

[6] Ibid, s 5.

[5] Industrial Disputes Act 1947 s 4.

[7] Industrial Disputes Act 1947 s 22 and 23.

[8] International Labour Organization, “The growth and decline of political unionism in India: the need for a paradigm shift” at p. 9, online: See also “Trade Unionism in India” online: < http://industrialrelations.naukrihub.com/trade-unionism.html> (Accessed on September 2, 2021)

[9] Govt. of India: Section 36 of the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947 (New Delhi, Govt. of India, 1947), at p. 22

[10] Govt. of India: Section 36 of the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947 (New Delhi, Govt. of India, 1947), at p. 18 and p. 22

[11] Maruti Manesar unrest: 100 arrested, plant shut down, July 9, 2012, Available at http://www.moneycontrol.com/news/business/marutimanesar-unrest-100-arrested-plant-shut-down_732607.html (Accessed on September 2, 2021)

[12] CIL trade unions caution against de-nationalisation of mines, October 24, 2014, Available at http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/ indl-goods/svs/metals-mining/cil-trade-unions-caution-against-de-nationalisation-of-mines/articleshow/44925847.cms (Accessed on September 2, 2021)

[13] Coal India staff on a five-day nationwide strike from today, January 6, 2015, Available at http://businesstoday.intoday.in/story/coal-india-staffon-5-day-nationwide-strike-from-tuesday/1/214249.html (Accessed on September 2, 2021)

[14] Moulishree Srivastava, Are trade unions gaining a foothold in IT sector?, livemint, January 6, 2014, Available at http://www.livemint.com/ Industry/niEiLE4J9rb53vz3FVAQFP/Are-trade-unions-gaining-a-foothold-in-IT-sector.html (Accessed on September 2, 2021)

[15] http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/kerala/TCS-Lay-off-Minister-Seeks-Report/2015/01/09/article2610864.ece (Accessed on September 2, 2021)

[16] Krishna Murthy, R. (2006), Negotiating Wage Settlements Experiences of Innovative Managements, Indian Industrial Relations Institute, Mumbai and Venkata Ratnam, C.S. (2003), Negotiated Change: Collective Bargaining, Liberalization, and Restructuring in India, Response Books, New Delhi

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