An industrial dispute may be defined as a conflict or difference of opinion between management and workers on the terms of employment. It is a disagreement between an employer and employees’ representative; usually a trade union, over pay and other working conditions and can result in industrial actions. When an industrial dispute occurs, both the parties, that is the management and the workmen, try to pressurize each other. The management may resort to lockouts while the workers may resort to strikes, picketing or gheraos.
As per Section 2(k) of Industrial Disputes Act,1947, an industrial dispute in defined as any dispute or difference between employers and employers, or between
employers and workmen, or between workmen and which is connected with the employment or non-employment or the terms of employment or with the conditions of labor, of any person.
This definition includes all the aspects of a dispute. It, not only includes the disagreement between employees and employers, but also emphasizes the difference of opinion between worker and worker. The disputes generally arise on account of poor wage structure or poor working conditions. This disagreement or difference could be on any matter concerning the workers individually or collectively. It must be connected with employment or non-employment or with the conditions of labor.
From the point of view of the employer, an industrial dispute resulting in stoppage of work means a stoppage of production. This results in increase in the average cost of production since fixed expenses continue to be incurred. It also leads to a fall in sales and the rate of turnover, leading to a fall in profits. The employer may also be liable to compensate his customers with whom he may have contracted for regular supply. Apart from the immediate economic effects, loss of prestige and credit, alienation of the labor force, and other non-economic, psychological and social consequences may also arise. Loss due to destruction of property, personal injury and physical intimidation or inconvenience also arises.
For the employee, an industrial dispute entails loss of income. The regular income by way of wages and allowance ceases, and great hardship may be caused to the worker and his family. Employees also suffer from personal injury if they indulge into strikes n picketing; and the psychological and physical consequences of forced idleness. The threat of loss of employment in case of failure to settle the dispute advantageously, or the threat of reprisal action by employers also exists.
Prolonged stoppages of work have also an adverse effect on the national productivity, national income. They cause wastage of national resources. Hatred may be generated resulting in political unrest and disrupting amicable social/industrial relations or community attitudes.