Labour laws are those that deal with job regulations in any kind of business,
including production, selling, retail, and other places. The labour laws handle
the numerous management rules and conformance requirements (such as job standing
orders) as well as the legal rights and obligations of workers and their
organizations. Generally speaking, labour law deals with labour-management
relations, industrial relations, licensing of unions, collective negotiations,
discriminatory labour practices, and the crucial topics of workplace health and
safety and favourable natural circumstances.
Development of Trade Union in India
This development of the Trade Union can be classified into three phases such as:
- Before World War I (1875-1917)
It was in 1877 that the first time strike took place in Express Cotton Mills
Industry at Nagpur to raise the demand for workmen as after the first world war
was over the cost of living considerably increased. The political agitation
against foreign rule was also gaining momentum throughout the country. The
increase in the cost of living found its way into economic discontent amongst
the masses, particularly in industries.
In 1890 an employee of 'The Bombay Millhands Association named N.M Lokhande form
a trade Union for demanding the basic needs of workers such as a fixed number of
working hours, a lunch period to be given and they should be given some sort of
union kind thing which can hear and raise their issue before the employer.
The management was negligent and did not have any interest in granting rights to
- After World War I and Before Independence (1917- 1947)
Gandhiji returned to India from South Africa in 1919 for resolving the problem
faced by the workmen. He visited Ahmedabad Textile Mill to get a clear picture
of the problem of workers. He invited workers and masters to sit at the table
and find out a solution. Gandhiji was successful in his way.
In 1917, the revolution started against the master workmen which became a
burning point for every workmen in the country. Ultimately masters surrendered
and the demands of the workmen were fulfilled.
The Buckingham Case in 1926, held in Carnatic Mills Madras boosted the Royal
Commission to make an Act for workers. The problem of the workmen was regarding
the inhuman working condition which was given to them.
B.K Wadia an employee of the Carnatic Mills at Madras and the leader of the
labour wanted to go on strike against their inhuman working condition. He spread
awareness about their rights and collected people and finally go on a strike.
After this incident, the industry suffered a loss of approximately Rupees
75,000. To give B.K Wadia a lesson the management of the industry filed a
complaint in the Madras High Court for claiming damages of Rupees 75,000 from
The High Court takes cognizance and takes the side of the Employer.
The workmen who were involved in the strike condemned the decision and said that
they need basic human rights for existence. In response, British Government
takes action and finally passes the Trade Union Act, of 1926. It was passed in
1926 but was enforced only from 1st July 1927.
- 1947-Till Date
The All-India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) was established in 1920 to look after
the welfare of the working class. It was established by Congress Party. At the
time of independence, only two major political parties existed in India which
were the Congress Party and the Communist Party of India. In 1947 AITUC went
into the hands of the Communist Party. After that Congress formed the Indian
National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) and Gulzarilal Nanda, Kanta Bai, and
Harihar Nath Shastri became members of AITUC AND INTUC.
In the year 1947, the Communist Party OF India split into two parts, which are
CPI itself and the Communist Party of Marxist India. But AITUC remains in the
hands of CPI only.
In the year 1948, Hindu Mazdoor Sabha was formed by Janta Party. On 1st May 1948
United Trade Union Congress was formed by KP Shah and J.B Kriplani.
In the year 1955, Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangha was established by D. Thangari who was
a member of Jan Sangh(now Bhartiya Janta Party). In the year 1970, the Centre of
Indian Trade Union was formed by a member of CPIM named VN Ranate.
Amendments to the Trade Union Act:
- Indian Trade Union (Amendment) Act, 1929
- Limitations were imposed upon the activities of the Trade Union and Office
Bearers were to be reconsidered.
- The account of the Trade Union should be audited free of charge by
- At least two-thirds of members of the executive of a Trade Union should
be people engaged or employed in the industry to which the Union relates.
- Trade unions should not be deprived of carrying on cooperative
Indian Trade Union (Amendment) Act, 1947
The Indian Trade Unions Act, of 1926 made provisions for the registration of
Trade Unions after fulfilling the requisite conditions but the employer was
under no obligation either to recognize or to deal with a Trade Union even if it
was registered one. Consequently, the Act was amended in the year 1947 providing
for compulsory recognition by employers of representative Trade Unions. The
following provisions were made in the Amending Act.
- Establishment of Labour Court
- Recognition to be granted if the Union applying for such recognition was
representative of all the workers in the concerned establishment or
- If a registered Union has applied for recognition within three months,
the Labour Court will look after the matter and after finding that it fulfills the
condition of the Trade Union, it shall pass an order directing such recognition
- Mention of unfair practices both for the Trade Union and Employer were
mentioned. If Trade Union is found engaging in unfair practices an
application by the employer to the Registrar can be made. If an employer is
found guilty of unfair practice Registrar will impose a fine of Rupees 1000
on the employer.
Purpose of Trade Union
Section 2: Definitions
- The Trade Union will help to impose workmen's democracy.
- It will help in improving timely wage payment, no illegal deduction, and
improved working conditions.
- The Union will help them to escape the atrocities of the employer in any
- The employer who employs workmen only the gaining more benefits will
have to comply with the Act which in turn will reduce capitalism.
If the Trade Union is at the National level the
appropriate government is Central Government and if it is in a particular state
then the appropriate Government is State Government.
Section 2(b)- Office-bearer
In the case of a Trade Union, includes any member of the executive thereof, but
does not include an auditor.
Section 2(f)- Registrar
Section 2(g)- Trade Dispute
Trade Dispute means any dispute:
- A registrar of Trade Unions appointed by the appropriate Government under
Section 3 and includes any Additional or Deputy Registrar of Trade Unions.
- In relation to any Trade Union, the Registrar appointed for the state in
which the head or registered office the case may be, of the Trade Union is
Section 2(g)- Workmen
- (a) between employer and workmen
(b) between workmen and workmen
(c) between employer and employer
- Any such dispute must be connected with:
- the employment or
- non-employment or
- the terms of employment
- the condition of any labour, or any person
The latter part of Section 2(g) of this Act defines "Workmen" as follows:
Section 2(h)- Trade Union
- Workmen means all persons employed in trade or industry.
- It is immaterial that the persons employed in a trade or industry are
not in the employment by the employer with whom the Trade Dispute arises.
Section 3- Appointment of Registrar
- Any combination whether temporary or permanent
- The combination should have been formed for:
- regulating the relationship between
- Workmen and employer
- Workmen and workmen
- Employer and Employer
The appropriate government shall appoint a person to be the registrar of the
Trade Union for each state. The appropriate government is also authorized to
appoint Additional and Deputy Registrars of the Trade Union. They shall work
under the superintendence and direction of Registrars. The Appropriate
Government shall by order specify and define the local limits within which any
Additional or Deputy Registrar shall exercise and discharge his powers and
Section 4- Mode of Registration
A Trade Union may be registered, unregistered, or recognized Trade Union. There
is a basic distinction between these Trade Unions. The members of a recognized
and registered Trade Union enjoy such benefits as the members of an unregistered
Trade Union do not.
Any seven or more members of a Trade Union may apply for registration of Trade
Union. Provided that no Trade Union of workmen shall be registered unless at
least ten percent, or one hundred of the workmen, whichever is less engaged or
employed in the establishment of the industry with which it is connected are the
members of Trade Union on the date of making such an application.
Provided further that no Trade Union of workmen shall be registered unless it
has on the date of making application not less than seven persons as its members
who are workmen engaged or employed in the establishment or industry with which
it is connected.
Section 5- Application for registration
According to the provision of the Act a Trade Union may become a registered
Trade Union in the following manner:
Section 6- Provision to be contained in the rules of the Trade Union
- An application should be sent to the registrar in which seven or more
members of the such union must subscribe their names. At least seven members
must subscribe names to the rules of the Trade Union.
- The application in the form "A" should be accompanied by a copy of the
rules of the Trade Union and a statement of the following particulars:
- The names, occupations, and addresses of the members making the
- In the case of a Trade Union of workmen, the names occupation, and
addresses of the place of work of the members of the Trade Union making the
- The titles, names, ages and addresses, and occupations of the office
bearers of the Trade
Every registered Tarde Union is required to have written rules dealing with
certain matters specified in Schedule II of the Central Trade Union Regulations,
- The executive of the Trade Union is constituted by the provisions of this
- the rules of the Trade Union provide for the following matters, namely:
- name of the Trade Union
- the object of the Trade Union
- The purpose to which the General Fund of Trade Union will be applicable.
- Maintenance of the list of the members of the Trade Union and adequate
facilities for the inspection thereof by the office bearers and members of
the Trade Union
- admission of ordinary members who shall be persons engaged or employed
in an industry with which the Trade Union is connected and also the
admission of honorary or temporary members as office bearers required under
Section 22 to form the executive of the Trade Union.
ee- Payment of a minimum subscription by members of the Trade Union shall not be
- one rupee per annum for rural workers.
- three rupees per annum for workers in other unorganized sectors.
- twelve rupees per annum for workers in any other case.
- Any condition under which any member shall be entitled to any benefit it
or any fines may be imposed upon them by the rules and procedure.
- the manner in which the rule shall be amended.
- how the executive and torch bearers shall be elected and removed.
hh- the member of the executive and torch bearer shall be elected for a period
of three years.
- safe custody of funds and audit by a torch as prescribed in rules and
- how the Trade Union will be dissolved.
In M.T. Chandersenan V Sukumaran
[i], it was held that if the subscription is not
paid by the by-laws of the Trade Union, the person who has failed to pay cannot
be considered a member of the Union. But subscription should not be refused
under some pretext that results in denial of membership.
In I.T. Commr. W.B. v. I.S. Mills Asse,
[ii], Indian Sugar Mills Association was a
registered Trade Union. Rules 4 and 64 were repugnant to each other. It was
submitted that Rule 61 should be treated as void as it was inconsistent with the
stated objects of the Union. It was held that the Court had no right to assume
some of the stated objects of the Association as primary to declare others in
apparent conflict with them as of no effect. All rules framed by the Association
co.-exist. Further, the Court had no right to rewrite the rules of a registered
Trade Union by deleting any of them.
Section 7- Power to call for further particulars and to require alteration of
The registration of a Trade Union will be refused by the Registrar if the name
under which Trade Union will be refused by the registrar if the name under which
a Trade Union is proposed to be registered is identical to that of any existing
Trade Union or resembles such name as to be likely to deceive the public or the
members of either Trade Union.
Section 8- Registration
The registrar will register the Trade Union if he is satisfied that the Trade
Union has complied with all the requirements of this Act regarding registration.
The Registrar shall register the Trade Union by making necessary entries in the
register, to be maintained in such form as may be prescribed.
In ACC Rajanka Limestone Quarries Mazdoor Union V Registrar of Trade Union
it was held that where the Registrar takes no action on an application for more
than three months, a writ under Article 226 can be issued commanding the
Registrar to deal with the application.
In Rangaswami V The Registrar of Trade Union
[iv], it was held that the
withholding of registration of a Trade Union even when the documents were
completed was discriminatory in nature.
In Tamil Nadu Non-Gazetted Government Officers Union V The Registrar of Trade
[v], it was held that the government servants engaged in sovereign
activities cannot be permitted to form Trade Union.
Section 9- Certificate of Registration
The Registrar on registering a Trade Union shall issue a certificate of
registration in the prescribed form which shall be conclusive evidence that the
Trade Union has been duly registered under this Act.
Section 10- Cancellation of Registration
The power to withdraw or cancel the registration of a Trade Union is vested in
the hands of
- On the application of the Trade Union to be verified in the
- If the Registrar is satisfied that the certificate of
registration has been obtained by fraud or mistake.
- Where the Trade Union ceases to exist.
- If the Union has wilfully and after notice from the Registrar contravened any
provision of this Act or allowed any rule to continue in force that is
inconsistent with the provision of this Act.
- Where the Union has rescinded any rule for any matter provisions
for which is required to be made under Section 6.
- If the Registrar feels that a Trade Union of workmen ceases to
have the requisite number of members, the registration can be
In Tata Electric Companies Officers Guild V Registrar of Trade Unions
cancellation of registration of a Trade Union wilful contravention of a
provision of the Act is necessary. Therefore where a Trade Union did not file a
return due to a misunderstanding of the accounting year and the return was filed
soon after receipt of show cause notice from the Registrar, the cancellation of
registration on the ground of non-filling of the return was held improper.
Section 11- Appeals
A limited right of appeal from the decision of the Registrar is granted by
section 11 of the Act. Any person aggrieved by the refusal of the Registrar to
register a Trade Union or by the withdrawal or cancellation of a certificate of
registration has the right of appeal. The appeal should be preferred within the
prescribed period. The proceedings by way of appeal must be started within sixty
days of the date on which the Registrar passed the order against which the
appeal is made.
Section 23- Change of Name
Section 7(2) of the Act provides that no Trade Union shall be registered under
the name identical to the name of any other existing Trade Union. Section 23 of
the Act provides that any registered Trade Union may, with the consent of not
less than two-thirds of the total number of its members and subject to the
provision of Section 25 of the Act, change its name.
Section 24- Amalgamation of Trade Unions
Any two or more registered Trade Unions may become amalgamated together as one
Trade Union with or without dissolution or division of the funds of such Trade
But to support any amalgamation the votes of at least one-half of the members of
every Trade Union entitled to vote must be recorded and also at least sixty
percent of the votes recorded must be in favour of the proposal for
Section 25- Notice of change of name or amalgamation
Section 25 of the Act requires that notice in writing of every change of name
signed by the Secretary and seven members of the Trade Union changing its name
shall be sent to the Registrar. It should further be stated in the notice3
whether the consent of the members was obtained by referendum or by resolution
of a general meeting.
The Registrar shall, if he is satisfied that the provisions of the Act in
respect of change of name have been complied with, register the change of name
in the registered referred in Section 8. The change of name shall have effect
from the date of such registration.
Section 26(1)- Effect of change of name
The change in the name of a registered Trade Union shall not affect any rights
or obligations of the Trade Union. It shall also not render ineffective any
legal proceeding by or against the Trade Union. Any legal proceeding which might
have been continued or commenced by or against a Trade Union by its former name
may be continued or commenced by or against its new name.
Section 26(2)- Effect of Amalgamation
Section 26 (2) of the Act provides that an amalgamation of two or more
registered Trade Unions shall not produce any right of any of such Trade Unions
or any right of a creditor or any of them. An amalgamation shall have effect
only after it has been registered. But registration of amalgamation by itself is
not conclusive proof of the validity of the amalgamation. The amalgamation may
be declared invalid on the ground that the votes of fifty percent of the members
had not been recorded.
Section 27- Dissolution
Section 27 of the Act provides that when a registered Trade Union is dissolved,
a notice of the dissolution signed by seven members and the Secretary of the
Trade Union shall, within fourteen days of the dissolution be sent to the
Registrar. If the Registrar is satisfied that the dissolution has been affected
by the rules of the Trade Union, the notice shall then be registered. The
dissolution of a registered Trade Union shall have effect after registration of
Where the dissolution of a registered Trade Union has been registered and the
rules of a Trade Union do not provide for the distribution of funds of the Trade
Union on dissolution, the Registrar shall divide the funds among the members in
such manner as may be prescribed.
In Blacke V Smither
[vii], it was held where the dissolution of a registered
Trade Union has been registered and the rules of a Trade Union do not provide
for the distribution of funds of the Trade Union on dissolution, the Registrar
shall divide the funds among the members in such manner as may be prescribed.
the rules of a Trade Union do not provide for the dissolution of the Trade
Union, then like any other voluntary association the dissolution is possible
only with the consent of all the members or by an order of the court. The courts
will not ordinarily interfere to dissolve against the wishes of the minority
unless it is practically impossible for the Union to function.
- AIR 1974 SC 1789
- AIR 1975 SC 506
- AIR 1958 Pat 470
- AIR 1962 Mad 231
- AIR 1959 Mad 55
- (1994) 1 LLJ 125 (Bom)
- (1906) 22 T.L.R 669.
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