Strike and Lockout
Strike: A strike is a very powerful weapon used by trade unions and other labor associations to get their demands accepted. It generally involves quitting of work by a group of workers for the purpose of bringing the pressure on their employer so that their demands get accepted. When workers collectively cease to work in a particular industry, they are said to be on strike.
According to Industrial Disputes Act 1947, a strike is “a cessation of work by a body of persons employed in an industry acting in combination; or a concerted refusal of any number of persons who are or have been so employed to continue to work or to accept employment; or a refusal under a common understanding of any number of such persons to continue to work or to accept employment”. This definition throws light on a few aspects of a strike. Firstly, a strike is a referred to as stoppage of work by a group of workers employed in a particular industry. Secondly, it also includes the refusal of a number of employees to continue work under their employer.
Lockout: A lockout is a work stoppage in which an employer prevents employees from working. It is declared by employers to put pressure on their workers. This is different from a strike, in which employees refuse to work. Thus, a lockout is employers’ weapon while a strike is raised on part of employees. Acc to Industrial Disputes Act 1947, lock-out means the temporary 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.
A lockout may happen for several reasons. When only part of a trade union votes to strike, the purpose of a lockout is to put pressure on a union by reducing the number of members who are able to work.
ILLEGAL STRIKES AND LOCK-OUTS (Sec 24)
(1) A strike or a lock-out shall be illegal if:
(i) It is commenced or declared in contravention of section 22 or section 23; or
(ii) It is continued in contravention of an order made under sub-section (3) of section 10 or sub-section (4A) of section 10A.
(2) Where a strike or lock-out in pursuance of an industrial dispute has already commenced and is in existence at the time of the reference of the dispute to a Board, an arbitrator, a Labour Court, Tribunal or National Tribunal, the continuance of such strike or lock-out shall not be deemed to be illegal, provided that such strike or lock-out was not at its commencement in contravention of the provisions of this Act or the continuance thereof was not prohibited under sub-section (3) of section 10 or subsection (4A) of section 10A.
(3) A lock-out declared in consequence of an illegal strike or a strike declared in consequence of an illegal lock-out shall not be deemed to be illegal.
Section 22: Prohibition of Strikes and Lock outs:
1. No person employed in a public utility service shall go on strike, (a) without giving to the employer notice of strike within six weeks before striking or (b) within fourteen days of giving such notice or (c) before the expiry of the date of strike specified in any such notice as aforesaid or (d) during the pendency of any conciliation proceedings before a conciliation officer and seven days after the conclusion of such proceedings.
2. No employer carrying on any public utility service shall lock-out any of his workman (a) without giving them notice of lock-out within six weeks before locking-out; or (b) within fourteen days of giving such notice; or (c) before the expiry of the date of lock-out specified in any such notice as aforesaid; or (d) during the pendency of any conciliation proceedings before a conciliation officer and seven days after the conclusion of such proceedings.
3. The notice of lock-out or strike under this section shall not be necessary where there is already in existence a strike or, as the case may be, lock-out in the public utility service, but the employer shall send intimation of such lock-out or strike on the day on which it is declared, to such Authority as may be specified by the appropriate Government either generally or for a particular area or for a particular class of public utility services.
4. The notice of strike referred to in sub-section (1) shall be given by such number of persons to such person or persons and in such manner as may be prescribed.
5. The notice of lock-out referred to in sub-section (2) shall be given in such manner as may be prescribed.
If on any day an employer receives from any person employed by him any such notices as are referred to in sub-section (1) or gives to any persons employed by him any such notices as are referred to in sub-section (2), he shall within five days, thereof report to the appropriate Government or to such authority as that Government may prescribe the number of such notices received or given on that day.
Section 23: General Prohibition of Strikes and Lock-outs:
No workman who is employed in any industrial establishment shall go on strike and no employer of any such workman shall declare a lock-out
1. during the pendency of conciliation proceedings before a Board and seven days after the conclusion of such proceedings;
2. during the pendency of proceedings before a Labour Court, Tribunal or National Tribunal and two months after the conclusion of such proceedings
3. during any period in which a settlement is in operation,
Kinds of strike
These are three kinds of strikes, namely: (1) General strike, (2) Stay-in-strike, and (3) Go slow strike.
(1) General strike: A general strike is one, where the workmen join together for common cause and stay away from work, depriving the employer of their labour needed to run the factory.
(2) Stay-in-strike: A stay-in-strike is also known as "total-dawn-strike" or 'pen-dawn-strike". It is the form of strike where the workmen report to their duties, occupy the premises, but do not work. The employer is thus prevented from employing other labour to carryon his business.
(3) Go-slow strike: In a 'Go Slow' strike, the .workmen do not stay away from work, they do come to their work and work also, but with a slow speed in order to lower down production, and thereby cause loss to the employer.
In addition to these three forms of strike a few more may be cited, although some of them are not strike within the meaning of Sub-Section 2(q). Such forms are:
(i) Sympathetic strike: A sympathetic strike is resorted to in sympathy of other striking workmen. Its aim is to encourage or to extend moral support to or indirectly to aid the striking workmen. The sympathisers resorting to such strike have no demand of grievance of their own.
(ii) Hunger strike: In hunger strike, a group of workmen resort to fasting on or near the place of work or the residence of the employer with a view to coerce the employer to accept their demands.
(iii) Work to rule: The employers in this case of "work to rule" strictly adhere to rules while performing their duties which ordinarily they do not observe. This causes the slowing down the tempo of work. It is not a strike because there is no stoppage of work at all.