In this article we will discuss about the need for workers’ participation in Indian industries.

The scheme of workers’ participation in management is very useful in minimising industrial disputes, establishing industrial peace, increasing production and productivity of both the workers and the enterprise, establishing industrial democracy and boosting the morale of employees. During present days, and in present circumstances, the scheme has become a need of all the industries and all the countries.

The need of this scheme in Indian industries can be advocated on following grounds:

1. The rate of labour turnover and absenteeism in Indian industries is much higher than that of developed countries of the world. Implies that there is some or the other dis-satisfaction among workers of our industries. The causes of this dis-satisfaction can be detected through the scheme for workers’ participation in management and remedial measures to remove such dis-satisfaction must be adopted.


2. India is an underdeveloped country. Though India ranks 10th among Industrial countries of the world, but both the production, and productivity of our industries and our workers are much less than that of many others developed countries of the world. So the need is to increase both the production and productivity of Indian industries, and the workers working in these industries. This object can be achieved only when the workers extend their full cooperation and dedication, and it can be achieved with the help of this scheme.

3. Introduction of this scheme is necessary for developing the sense of responsibility among workers also. This scheme will help in building up better understanding and trust between them.

4. Number of industrial accidents and industrial disputes is very high in Indian industries. It is an indication of the fact that the relations between labour and management in the enterprise are not cordial. There are some misunderstandings between them. The scheme of workers’ participation in management removes such mis­understandings by providing them chance to discuss their problems and feelings on a common platform. Thus, this scheme may be helpful in establishing industrial peace in Indian industries.

5. This scheme should be implemented in Indian industries to provide due recognition to the workers. In most of the cases, the employers regard the workers only as a commodity even at the present conditions. The employers feel that the workers are meant to carry out only the decisions of management; they are not competent to take decisions independently.


The result of such thinking of management is that the workers feel humiliating in Indian industries. The scheme of workers’ participation in management will make them free from the humiliating feeling of being a mere instrument. The scheme will change the psychology of both the workers and employers in our industries. It will let them honour one another as co-partners of the industry. The basic idea is —’Live and Let Live’.

To sum up the view, it can be concluded that in India 80 per cent of workers are below the poverty line and they are not even assumed fair or need-based wages. The average workers have neither time, nor energy nor interest in exercising their right to participate in the management at higher level.

Under such circumstances, full-fledged participation of labour in management is not a practical proposition. However, workers may be or should be given opportunities to participate at plant level through asking them suggestions to various labour problems or giving them representation on various committees.

The workers’ participation at plant level should be restricted also to the problems concerning workers. Any problem relating to the industry requiring specialised or expert knowledge cannot be consulted with the workers. General managerial functions should also be reserved for management experts.


6. Workers have managed their unions successfully. So, the question arises why they cannot manage the industry with the co­operation and guidance of management?

7. The scheme of workers participation it can be implemented in India on the ground that this scheme has been implemented successfully in many other developed countries of the world.

8. There is change in the whole atmosphere. The workers have awakened and have realised their duties and responsibilities. They are aware of their rights and power also. This scheme will be helpful in awakening them further, and making them more responsible and sincere.

Thus, it can be concluded that the scheme should be implemented in Indian industries. It will prove helpful in the industrial development of the country.


Workers’ Participation in Management in Indian Industries:

The Scheme of worker’s participation in management in Indian industries was introduced for the first time in 1938 in Delhi Cloth and General Mills Limited, but nothing sincere work could be done in this connection by the Government or by the employers. The first systematic step in this direction was taken by the Government of India in 1947, by passing the Industrial Disputes Act.

This act provides for the establishment of work committees. But these committees could not achieve their objectives. The industrial policy of 1948 also supported the concept of workers’ participation in management. The industrial policy of 1956 stressed upon the need of implementing this scheme in the following word, “In a socialist democracy, labour is a partner in the common task of development and should participate in it with enthusiasm.

In the draft of second five-year plan the Government of India announced its policy in this regard as follows. “It is necessary in this context that the workers should be made to feel that in his own way he is helping to build a progressive state. The creation of industrial democracy, therefore, is a pre-requisite for the establishment of a socialist society.”


Important efforts in the direction of introducing the scheme of workers’ participation in management in Indian industries may be summarized as follows:

1. Study Group, 1956:

The Government of India sent study group abroad in 1956 under the chairmanship of Mr. Vishnu Sahai, the then secretary of the minister of labour. This group visited Germany, Sweden, England, France, Yugoslavia and Belgium. This group submitted its report to the Government in 1957. In this report, the group gave concrete suggestions for the implementation of the scheme of workers’ participation in Indian industries.

2. Indian Labour Conference, 1957:


The report of this study group was discussed in detail at 15th Indian labour conference held in Delhi in 1957. A sub-committee was constituted at this conference, and it was decided that the scheme should initially be tried out in 50 enterprises.

For the selection of a particular enterprise for the implementation of this scheme, the following factors were to be considered:

(i) There must be a minimum of 500 workers in the enterprise,

(ii) Relations between labour and management should be cordial.


(iii) There must be an effective and operating labour union in the enterprise,

(iv) The association of employers and labour union should be a member of a central association of employers and central trade union respectively.

3. Tripartite Conference, 1958:

A tripartite conference was held in February 1958. Representatives of workers, employers and Government participated in this conference arrived at certain conclusions, as follows:

(i) Joint Management Council should be established. This council should have a maximum of twelve representatives, in equal number from workers and employers.

(ii) A panel of experts should be constituted on all India level. This panel should comprise of the representatives of workers and employers. This panel will give its expert consultations to the representatives of these councils.


(iii) Representatives of workers to join the Joint Management Council should be nominated by labour union of the enterprise. These representatives may be workers as well as non-workers also, but the number of non-worker representatives should not be more than 25% of their total number.

(iv) The representatives of employers and employees should be trained so that they may take active part in management.

(v) The decisions of these councils should be implemented at the earliest.

4. Second Tripartite Seminar, 1960:

In March 1960, Second tripartite seminar was organised in Delhi under the auspices of union ministry of labour.

The conclusions of this seminar are as follows:


(i) The Government of India will set up a social unit in the ministry of labour and employment, to deal with all the matters related with this scheme.

(ii) A Central Tripartite Committee should be set up to review the progress of the scheme from time to time so that the difficulties in the functioning of Joint Management Councils should be removed.

5. Inter-State Conference of Labour Ministers was Organised in 1961:

This conference was attended by the labour ministers of all the states. It was agreed at this conference that the scheme of workers’ participation in management should be implemented in the industrial enterprises of public sector, whenever there is a suitable atmosphere for the implementation of this scheme.

6. Three Regional Seminars were Organised by the Central Board of Labour Education in March, 1965:

Main object of these seminars was to establish Joint Management Council and to explain the importance of this scheme to both the employers and workers.


7. A National Seminar was Organised in New Delhi on 8th to 9th January:

A National Seminar was organised in New Delhi on 8th to 9th January, 1990 to hold a wide debate on the subject. Subsequently, regional seminars were also held in Kanpur, Thiruvananthapuram, Madras, Indore and Bombay. The subject was also discussed in the conference of the State Labour Ministers held on 20th April, 1990 and the Indian labour Conference 21st and 22nd April, 1990.

On the basis of consensus of opinion expressed in these seminars and conference, the Participation of Workers’ in Management bill, 190 was formulated and introduced in Rajya Sabha on 30th May, 1990. The Bill inter-alia provides for participation of workers’ in management at the levels of the shop floor, the establishment and the board of management level in industrial establishments covered under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. The Bill is pending consideration in the Rajya Sabha.

8. A Conference was Organised in 1985:

Under the chairmanship of Mr. T. Anjia. This conference was attended by the labour ministers of all the states and the representatives of workers, and management from selected industries.