After reading this article you will learn about:- 1. Meaning of Industrial Disputes 2. Causes of Industrial Disputes 3. Settlement 4. Outcome.

Meaning of Industrial Disputes:

An Industrial Dispute means any dispute or difference between employers and employers or employers and workmen or between workmen and workmen which is connected with employ­ment or non-employment or terms of employment or conditions of labour, of any person.

Every human being (say a worker) has certain needs, e.g., economic needs, social needs and needs for security. When these needs do not get satisfied, there arises a conflict between labour and capital.

A conflict means a struggle or clash between the interests of the employer and the workers. For example, in order to compete in the market, the employer would like to reduce the price of his product and for doing so he will tend to reduce the wages of the workers; the workers would not agree to it and the result will be an industrial conflict between the employer and the workers.


When an industrial conflict (which otherwise is general in nature) acquires a concrete and specific display or revelation, it becomes an Industrial Dispute. A conflict takes the shape of Industrial Dispute as soon as the issues of controversy are submitted to the employer for negotiations.

An industrial dispute may be looked upon as a controversy or disagreement between employer (or management) and the workmen on issues such as:

i. Wages and other benefits,

ii. Work hours and working conditions, etc.


Industrial disputes cause losses to, workers, management and nation as a whole.

(i) Workers lose their wages.

(ii) Management loses its profit,

(iii) Public suffers due to shortage of goods in the market.


(iv) Nation suffers due to loss of production.

Causes of Industrial Disputes:

Some of the common causes of Industrial Disputes have been listed below:

(i) Psychological Causes:

a. Difficulty in adjusting with each other (i.e., employer and worker).

b. Clash of personalities.


c. Authoritarian Leadership (administration).

d. Demand for self-respect and recognition by workers.

e. Strict discipline.

(ii) Institutional Causes:

a. Non recognition of the labour union by the management.


b. Matters of collective bargaining.

c. Unfair conditions and practices.

d. Pressing workers, not to become members of union, etc.

(iii) Economic Causes:

(a) Terms and Conditions of Employment:


1. More hours of work.

2. Working in night shifts.

3. Promotion, lay off, retrenchment, dismissal, etc.

(b) Working Conditions:


1. Environmental conditions such as too hot, too cold, noisy, dirty, messy, etc.

2. Improper plant and workstation layout.

3. Old and trouble giving machines.

4. Frequent changes in products, etc.

(c) Wages and Other Benefits:

1. Inadequate wages.


2. Undesired deductions from wages.

3. Poor fringe benefits.

4. No bonus or other incentives, etc.

(iv) Denial of Legal and Other Rights of Workers:

1. Not proceeding as per labour laws and regulations, standing orders etc.

2. Violation of already made mutual agreements (i.e., between employer and workers).

Settlement of Industrial Disputes:

The ill effects of industrial disputes pressurize employees, employers and the state to settle such disputes for the betterment and welfare of all the parties involved.


The different methods employed for settling the disputes are:

(a) Without State Intervention:

1. Collective bargaining.

2. Voluntary arbitration.

(b) With State Intervention:

3. Compulsory collective bargaining.

4. Bipartite committees.

5. Compulsory arbitration.


6. Compulsory conciliation and Mediation.

7. Compulsory investigation.

Outcome of Industrial Disputes:

1. Strikes:

Whenever workers feel any grievance and if the same is not removed by the management, the workers unite together to fight it out and this causes industrial unrest, conflict and dispute. The industrial disputes generally result in Strikes, Lockouts, Picketing or Gherao.

The word strike is an innovation of the early 19th century but the phrase to strike work was used in the eighteenth century. Strike is the ultimate weapon of the trade union by which it can threat the employer.

Strike implies that:

(i) There shall be cessation of work or refusal to work by a body of workmen; and


(ii) Workmen should be acting in concert in order to enforce a demand against the employer during an industrial dispute.

Success of strike depends upon the ability of the workmen to stop the employer from continuing to operate,

Causes of Strikes:

Finding the causes of strikes means searching the causes that lead workers to strike in preference to other methods available to achieve their objectives.

The various causes of strikes are:

a. Wage disputes (including bonus, etc.)


b. Working arrangement and conditions.

c. Discipline and other factory rules.

d. Demarcation, dismissals, suspension, retrenchment, etc.

e. Dispute over hours of work.

f. Trade union recognition.

g. Internal union disputes.

h. Victimisation of membership.

i. The closed shop.

j. Undeserved punishments.

k. Assaults, abuses and misbehaviours (from supervisors or management).

l. Sympathetic strikes.

Effects of Strikes:

(i) Strikes are costly to workers. They may not have money to feed themselves and their families.

(ii) Strikes cause emotional tensions and mental strains.

(iii) Strikes deplete trade union funds.

(iv) Strikes result in mass unemployment.

(v) Strikes may result in violence and thus injuries to many workmen.

(vi) Strikes result in loss of output and profits.

(vii) Strikes involve loss of valuable man hours.

(viii) Strikes sometimes lead to damage to property and costly equipment.

(ix) Public suffers from shortage of products of the striking industry.

(x) If the strike fails, it:

1. Brings misery, dismissal and even withdrawal of already given privileges;

2. Terrorises workmen and degrades their morale.

Forms of Strikes:

(i) Official and Unofficial Strikes:

1. An official strike is one which is called by the union.

2. An unofficial strike is one which has not been approved by the union.

(ii) General and Particular Strikes:

1. A general strike is one where there is concert or combination of workers in stopping or refusing to resume work.

A general strike covers a wide range of industries and is over quite a large part of the country, e.g., General strike of 1926 in Great Britain

2. Particular strikes have smaller coverage, e.g., they may remain confined to one or a few factories in a city.

(iii) Go-Slow Strikes:

Workers come to the factory, but they work at pace slower than the normal; this lowers down the production and results in loss to employer.

(iv) Quickie Strike:

Workers come to factory but they stop work for few minutes or few hours.

(v) Sit-Down Strikes:

Workers come to factory, report to their duties but do not work.

(vi) Sympathetic Strikes:

A sympathetic strike for a day or so is conducted in sympathy with another group of workers who are already on strike, in order to boost their morale.

2. Lock-Out:

Just as strike is a weapon in the hands of workers to force employers to accept their demands; similarly lock-out is the weapon of employer to pressurize workers to come down in their demands.

A lock-out means, “Closing the place of employment or suspension of work or the refusal by an employer to employ any number or persons employed by him”. As the employer declares a lock-out, he tells workers to keep away from the work. Lock-out is the outcome of an industrial dispute.

3. Picketing:

Picketing is almost a standard practice when a union strikes against an employer. Some workers are placed at the factory gate to discourage others from entering the work premises. Pressure on the employer increases when employees of other companies refuse to cross picket line to deliver or pick up goods from the struck employer.

In picketing, workers may parade with banners to inform public about the dispute with the employer and to enlist popular support for the workers or unions.

Picketing may be designed to interfere with business and thus to pressurize the employer to comply with union demands. Picketing by one group of employees often stops other employees from working in the same factory. In doing so, the pickets sometimes insult and even block physically the path of those (employees intending to) enter the factory.

4. Gherao:

Like strike and picketing, Gherao is also a method to pressurize employer to fulfill union demands. In gherao workers force the employer or managers to remain confined in their offices for hours or even days. The employer sometimes is forced to remain without water and food; he is not allowed to go out even for natural calls.

Workers encircle the office of the employer, close all the exits and sit around in batches. In contrast to strikes which put economic pressure on the employer, a gherao involves physical coercion, i.e. it tends to inflict physical duress on the employer or manager.

Thus a gherao besides endangering industrial harmony, creates problems of law and order also. Actually gherao is a primitive method which used to be employed in England by early trade unions.