Labour Investigation Committee (1946)||
This Provincial Act is a radical departure from the previous legislation on the subject of industrial disputes. The main object of the Act is to make all strikes and lock-outs illegal without notice and without utilising the machinery contained in the Act for conciliation and arbitration. It thus extends to all industrial disputes and strikes the principle of making strikes without notice illegal which applied only to public utility concerns under the Trade Disputes Act, 1929. The Act has been applied to the cotton textile industry in the Bombay Province, to the woollen textile industry in the Bombay City and Local Area of Thana and to the silk textile industry in the Bombay City. It requires the employers in the event of an industrial dispute to deal with the representatives of the two types of unions mentioned in it. Thus the Act secures one of the important purposes of recognition by requiring employers to deal with these unions in conciliation proceedings. The Provincial Government is authorised to appoint a Labour Officer for safeguarding the interests of workers and for appearing on their behalf in a dispute when they do not elect their own representative. An outstanding feature of the Act is the provision for framing standing orders for regulating the relations between employers and employees.
The Act "provides an elaborate machinery including on Industrial Court for the settlement of disputes by conciliation or by voluntary arbitration. It was amended in 1941 with a view to making arbitration compulsory in certain cases.
Figures about the working of the Act are available for the first three years of its' existence, namely, 1940-42 in a publication of the Bombay Mill Owners' Association. Daring this period, 570 notices of change were given, 429 by employers and 141 by workers. 134 notices of change related to change of shifts and working hours, 212 related to retrenchment and stoppages of machinery, 173 to wages, efficiency schemes, allowance and bonus and the remaining 51 to miscellaneous matters. Out of the 570 notices, 338 resulted in agreements, 63 in settlements and in the case of 31, the conciliation proceedings failed. Out of the remaining 128, 23 were pending and 115 were not proceeded with or were withdrawn.
During the same period, 44 applications were filed with the Industrial Court, 21 by the employers, 22 by the workers and one by the Government Labour Officer. The orders passed by the Industrial Court in connection with 41 applications were entirely favourable to the managements concerned and only in three cases the orders were unfavorable to them.
Though the Act has not succeeded in preventing lightning strikes altogether, it has been successful in considerably reducing their number and in avoiding stoppages of work in a fairly large number of cases. Its main merit is that employers are prevented from changing conditions of employment unless it is for the better, without giving notices of change and, in the absence of an agreement with the workers,, without placing their proposals before a Conciliator.
The Government of Madras, U. P. and Bengal have under contemplation draft bills on the lines of this Act. The Mysore Labour Act, 1942 which is a noticeable piece of labour legislation in Indian States today is based on the Bombay Act and provides for the statutory recognition of each Association of workers immediately it is registered.