National Commission on Labour (1967)||
21.19 The functions of national organisations on the labour side are somewhat limited. In the industrial relations system, as it exists today, the powers and responsibilities are largely concentrated in the associations operating at the industry/area level or in individual employers. While in Sweden and Italy the national federations are negotiating bodies as well, in India they neither participate in any negotiation with unions nor do they deal with the industrial relations problems of their constituents. Barring exceptions, instances in which all-India organisations have espoused the cause of an individual employer/company are few.
21.20 The main obligations that are being discharged at present by national organisations in the labour field are to formulate policies for the guidance of delegations to international conferences and tripartite meetings and advisory bodies. Organising broad-based discussions on certain aspects of labour problems and occasional training courses and seminars have also been recently acquired functions. As such, the activities of the national organisations are almost exclusively directed to dealing with and influencing policy at the national and international levels, ascertaining and representing the views of their constituents, and ensuring that the decisions adopted are properly understood and implemented by the constituents. Collection of data to aid and support their stand and dissemination of information to members and the public are important aspects of their activities. In these tasks, regional committees set up by them are the main functionaries. These committees have in their turn constituted screening committees in some centres to examine proposals made by their constituents for filing appeals against the decisions of tribunals and labour courts. This is one of the obligations imposed on them by the Code of Discipline. While we take note of the setting up of these committees, we would like to record that there is dissatisfaction both among unions and Governments about the manner of working of these committees.
21.21 Industry-wise associations occupy a key position in the industrial relations system, as they are better placed to appreciate the problems of the industry concerned and provide guidance to their constituents. The local/regional industrial associations are in a still better position to do this. Because of the ease with which they can contact their members and reach unions and vice versa, the role of these associations in industrial relations has been quite significant. The philosophy behind providing such machinery, supplementary to that which takes care of influencing Government policies in other matters, is that the function of these associations is as much to safeguard and promote the long-term benefits of the industry as to look to the short-term interests of individual employers. In undertaking these obligations effectively, the industrial associations have built up their own hierarchy. The central industrial organisations primarily undertake the function of representation at various bipartite or tripartite bodies at the industry level.
21-22 In the eastern and western regions, particularly in industries such as jute, tea, coal, engineering and cotton, the industrial associations have played an effective role in sponsoring standard practices and in giving guidance to members on all matters governing industrial relations. Direct negotiations between industrial associations and trade unions have not made headway, because collective bargaining at the industry level or on a national plane has not yet developed. There are instances, however, where an area/industry-wise understanding has been reached between an industrial association and the trade unions in the meetings of the industrial committee or even in conciliation. Industrial associations particularly those at the local/area level, maintain informal contacts with trade union organisations. Labour departments of such associations have resolved disputes between workers and managements of their constituents units.
21.23 To complete this part of the account, it would be useful to record the work done by some individual industry/central organisations, since it has lessons for the future. Apart from the conventional role that the IJMA has been performing, its contribution in training management personnel and in organising extensive training for junior supervisory staff has been noteworthy. The IJMA started its labour department in 1939 to study labour relations within the industry and encourage a uniform approach to the solution of the industry's labour problems. One of the main promotional activities of the Indian Engineering Association, the Engineering Association of India and the Indian Mining Association is to provide expert labour
advisory services to their constituents. The U.P. branch of the Indian Sugar Mills Association has got a separate labour department fully equipped with technical staff; the services of the staff are extended to the constituent units. The UPASI, the Indian Tea Association and the Indian Tea Planters' Association have developed on somewhat similar lines. In the western region, the Bombay Millowners' Association and the Ahmedabad Millowners' Association have built up certain traditions of industry-wise negotiations. Their role in collection and dissemination of statistical information relating to trade, commerce and labour has been commendable. For this purpose, they have gradually built up a full-fledged research and labour advisory service. These organisations have also been instrumental in the development of training institutions for Managers and Personnel/Welfare Officers.
21.24 We have noticed, during our observational visits, that in certain areas a tradition of industry/area-wise negotiations has evolved, and in some undertakings run by enlightened employers, collective bargaining has taken root. We have recognised elsewhere the important role which collective bargaining and arbitration can play in promoting industrial harmony, and in this context, the role of employers' organisations is clear. They should encourage collective bargaining and should also encourage voluntary arbitration and wean away reluctant employers from recourse to third party intervention. This can be achieved only when individual employers change their attitude. Our recommendation for legislative support for union recognition requires, in addition, an educative effort on the part of organisations among their members. It requires that employers' organisations should strengthen themselves by way of provision of adequate research facilities and equipping themselves with data for understanding the problems of the concerned industries. It is only thus that they can assist and advise companies in matters of negotiations.
21.25 Because of complexities introduced in dealing with industrial relations in the context of technological change, technicalities involved in interpretation of labour legislation and also sound understanding of industrial case law and practices developed in enlightened concerns, managerial functions have acquired new dimensions. The old pattern of employer-manager functions combined in one person is yielding place to a specialised managerial and personnel system. Some employers' associations have not only been inducting personnel management consciousness among their affiliates, but have also built up their own cadres to assist managements in dealing with personnel problems. However, taking an overall view, there are no regular and scientific arrangements for training of supervisors and middle management personnel in the art of handling labour. This aspect of training should receive due attention from the employers' organisations. It is difficult for smaller units to have the full-time services of personnel officers; nor is it necessary for them to do so in view of their small size. This is a field where associations can assist them by making available their own officers and rendering guidance in matters of personnel policies.
21.26 From the view-point of labour management relations, employers' associations should, in our view, accept the following functions:
(i) undertake promotion of collective bargaining at various levels;
(ii) encourage observance and implementation by its members of bipartite and tripartite agreements in real spirit and form;
(ii) expedite implementation of wage awards by members without undue delay and reservations;
(iv) work towards elimination of unfair labour practices by employers;
(v) encourage adoption by members of personnel policies conducive to productivity and industrial peace;
(vi) promote rationalisation of management or organisation to improve productivity;
(vii) arrange employers' education (a) in the concept of labour partnership in industry, (b) for ensuring identity of interests of labour and management and (c) for promoting harmony between the goals of industry and of the community; and
(viii) work towards the collective welfare of its members through training, research and communication in the field of labour-management relations.
We do not propose statutory provisions to compel employers' associations to undertake the above functions, but hope that these functions would voluntarily be adopted and discharged by them.