National Commission on Labour (1967)||
26.29 This review of the developments with regard to Government employees and the restrictions imposed on direct action by them brings us to a consideration of the machinery for the settlement of disputes between the Government and its employees generally. We feel that the arrangements in the JCM, to the extent that they provide a forum for discussion at various levels between Government as an employer and unions representing their employees, fits in with what we have in mind. There are, however, certain disturbing features of the JCM by which Government appears to have reserved for itself the power to bring or not to bring items for deliberations to that machinery. We consider that this is a major departure from the scheme that we have envisaged. The current JCM arrangements have a parallel, though not on all fours, in the right by which the Government has reserved to itself the power to refer or not to refer to adjudication certain demands from among those on which adjudication is demanded by employees. We recommend that there should be a wider scope for discussion in the JCM. It should be on all matters which can be brought constitutionally within the purview of the JCM. The second point where the scheme of the JCM is a departure from the one we have envisaged is the limited scope provided in the former for arbitration. The removal of this deficiency also requires to be considered if the industrial employees of Government are to be treated on the same footing as other industrial employees. Also, according to the present arrangements. Government becomes the final authority in deciding whether an issue can or cannot go for arbitration, in case the JCM does not succeed in its efforts to settle differences. On this issue also, we consider that Government's discretion requires to be fettered. It is the arbitrator who should decide whether an issue is or is not arbitrable within the framework of the constitution of the JCM. One of the parties to the dispute cannot be an arbiter on this point.
26.30 We consider it important that arrangements for Government (industrial) employees and others in similar non-governmental employment (essential services) should have as extensive a common ground as possible in matters concerning the settlement of disputes. The JCM arrangements, with the improvements suggested above, will be capable of being worked in that spirit. As another link between arrangements for Government and non-Government employees, we suggest that when differences reach a stage where arbitration becomes necessary, such arbitration should be voluntary. If voluntary arbitration is not agreed upon, the dispute would go automatically to the Industrial Relations Commission for settlement. The advantage in doing so is that the Commission with its experience in bringing harmony between parties to a dispute in non-Governmental employment, will have the necessary expertise and aptitude for taking a dispassionate view in the case of Government industrial employees also. This will obviate the need for constituting ad hoc tribunals which cannot attract the same type of knowledge and authority as a standing Commission can command. The decision of the arbitrator or the Commission, as the case may be, will be binding on both the parties as in the case of non-Government employees.