Right to Strike in an Industry

In support of his contention learned Counsel for the defendants has cited before me the case of B.R. Singh and others Vs. Union of India and others, . He has put reliance on the following observations on page 270:

“The right to form associations or unions is a fundamental right under Article 19(1)(c) of the Constitution. Section 8 of the Trade Unions Act provides for registration of a trade union if all the requirements of the said enactment are fulfilled. The right to form associations and unions and provide for their registration was recognised obviously for conferring certain rights on trade unions. The necessity to form unions is obviously for voicing the demands and grievances of labour. Trade unionists act as mouthpieces of labour. The strength of a trade union depends on its membership. Therefore, trade unions with sufficient membership strength are able to bargain more effectively with the managements. This bargaining power would be considerably reduced if it is not permitted to demonstrate. Strike in a given situation is only a form of demonstration. There are different modes of demonstrations e.g. go-slow, sit-in, work-to-rule, absenteeism etc., and strike is one such mode of demonstration by workers for their rights. The right to demonstrate and, Therefore, the right to strike is an important weapon in the armoury of the workers. This right has been recognised by almost all democratic countries. Though not raised to the high pedestal of a fundamental right, it is recognised as a mode of redress for resolving the grievances of workers.”

But in the same very para on page 270 it has been observed as under :

“BUT the right to strike is not absolute under our industrial jurisprudence and restrictions have been placed on it. These are to be found in Sections 10(3), 10A(4A), 22 and 23 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (‘ID. Act’ for short). Section 10(3) empowers the appropriate Government to prohibit the continuance of a strike if it is in connection with a dispute referred to one of the foray created under the said statute. Section 10A(4A) confers similar power on the appropriate Government where the industrial dispute which is the cause of the strike is referred to Arbitration and a notification in that behalf is issued u/s 10(3A).”

(9) Section 22 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 lays down that no person employed in public utility service shall go on strike in breach of contract without giving the employer a notice within six weeks before striking and within 14 days of giving of such notice. The Central Government had issued a notification u/s 2(n)(vi) by which the Banking institutes are mentioned as one of the specified industries of public utility.

(10) Apart from this, even assuming that they are entitled to go on strike they cannot exercise the said right so as to cause nuisance to the employer. Their right to go on strike is not unlimited. As the Indian citizens when they want to exercise their fundamental right to form a union and to have demonstrations for the redressal of their grievances, they have got to remember that they have also got a reciprocal duty so as not to cause nuisance or mental or physical danger to their employers and others. As the employer can move the Government and the Government can refer the disputes to the Industrial Court, it is equally open for defendant No. 4 to approach the Labour Court to challenge his transfer. He as well as defendant No. 1.cannot take the law in their hands and behave and act in such a manner so as to cause nuisance to others. No doubt it is their contention that the transfer of defendant No. 4 is illegal and, Therefore, they are entitled to go on strike but for that purpose they must follow the procedure laid down by Section 22 of the Industrial Disputes Act and after following the said procedure they can exercise their right to go on strike by bearing in mind that they cannot cause nuisance to the plaintiff or others. [ (1996) 1 BankCLR 595 : (1997) 68 DLT 391 : (1996) 61 DLT 799 : (1996) 2 LLJ 52 : (1996) 1 LLN 791 DELHI HIGH COURT SINGLE BENCH ( Before : S.D. Pandit, J ) STANDARD CHARTERED BANK Vs. CHARTERED BANK EMPLOYEES UNION AND OTHERS ]