1) Introduction -

          Strike and Lockout are the most effective weapons of the workmen and the employer respectively to meet their demands and to safeguard their interests. Strike is a legitimate and sometimes unavoidable weapon in the hands of labor and may be resorted to for securing demands of workmen to improve their working conditions. But this weapon when misused can lead to penal consequences. Section 24 of the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947 lays down grounds which make the Strike and Lockout illegal. Section 26 to Section 31 of the Industrial Dispute Act provides for the punishment and penalties for Illegal Strike and Lockout.


2) Definition of Strike

        Strike is a weapon which is made use of by the labor class to safeguard their interest both economic and culture. Section 2(q) of the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947 defines strike as " a cessation of work by a body of persons employed in any industry acting in combination, or a concerted refusal, or a refusal, under a common understanding of any number of persons who are or have been so employed to continue to work or to accept employment".


See also... Distinction / Difference between Strike and Lock-out


3) Definition of Lockout -

                    Section 2(1) of the said Act defines Lockout - Lock-out means the temporary closing of a place of employment, or the suspension of work, or the refusal by an employer to continue to employ any number of persons employed by him.


See in detail...Lock-out: Meaning Definition and Essentials of Lock-out

4) Illegal Strikes and Lockouts


 Section 24 of the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947 lays down grounds which make the Strike and Lockout illegal which are as follows -

            (I) A Strike or lockout shall be illegal if it is commenced or declared in contravention of Section 22 (of the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947) in public utility service. Under the provision of Section 22, a worker, as well as the employer, is required to serve a valid notice within the period prescribed by the section before a Strike or a lockout, as the case may be, can be illegal or justified under the said Act.

            (II)  A Strike or Lockout shall be illegal if it is commenced in contravention of Section 23 (of the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947) in any industrial establishment. Under the Provision of Section 23 Strikes and Lockouts are prohibited, in case, the matter under dispute pending before the arbitrator, Board of ConciliationLabor Court , Labor Tribunal or during any period in which settlement or award is in operation, in respect of any of the matter covered by the settlement or the award.

             (III) A Strike or Lockout shall be illegal if it is continued in contravention of an order and by the appropriate government under Section 10(3) or under sub-section 4(a) of Section 10-A of the said Act.


See in detail...Illegal Strike and Lockout

4) Consequences of Illegal Strikes


(I) Wages

         To entitle the workmen to wages for the period of the strike, a strike should not only be legal but it should also not be unjustified. Therefore in order to be entitled for wages for the period of the strike, a strike not only should be not illegal but should not be unjustified. The question of provocation by the employer in such case is immaterial. Therefore, the workers ordinarily who Resort to illegal strike are not entitled to wages for the strike period.

(II) Disciplinary Action against Striking Workmen

Normally taking part in the illegal strike amounts to misconduct on the part of a workman for which they invite the punishment of dismissal. Whether the employer is free to impose the punishment of dismissal from services in such cases has been subject to judicial controversy.


(III) Punishment and Penalty for Illegal Strike or Lockout

      In the process of collective bargaining the right of the workmen to go on strike and that the right of the employer to declare lockout in the establishment are the legitimate weapons which are given legal recognition under the modern industrial law.However, in order to put a check to the chaotic conditions, the modern industrial legislation has a regulated these rights in order to achieve the goal of harmonious Industrial Relations between the workmen and the employees. The Industrial Dispute Act 1947 has therefore provided certain penalties which can be imposed upon the defaulting workman and employers who resort to illegal strike or lockouts.

Chapter VI containing Section 26 to Section 31 of the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947 provides for the punishment and penalties for illegal strikes and lockouts as stated below -
    
(a) Penalty for commencing and continuing illegal Strikes and lock-outs :

       Section 24 of this said Act as discussed of enumerates the circumstances under which strike and Lockout would become illegal. Section 26 imposes Punishment for Illegal Strikes and Lockouts -
              (1) Any workman who commences continues or otherwise acts in furtherance of, a strike which is illegal under this Act, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one month, or with fine which may extend to fifty rupees, or with both.
              (2) Any employer who commences continues, or otherwise acts in furtherance of a lock-out which is illegal under this Act, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one month, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.


(b) Penalty for Instigation :

               It is not only commencing and continuing an illegal strike and Lockout which have been made punishable but punishment for instigating or inciting strikes or Lockouts is also made punishable under the said Act. Section 27 of the Industrial Dispute Act says that, Any person who instigates or incites others to take part in, or otherwise acts in furtherance of, a strike or lock-out which is illegal under this Act, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.

(c) Penalty for giving Financial Aid to illegal Strike :

            The giving of financial aid to illegal Strike and Lockout has also been made a penal offense under the provision of the said Act. According to Section 28 of the Act any person who knowingly expends or applies any money in direct furtherance or support of any illegal strike or lock-out shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.


(d) Penalty for breach of settlement or award (Section 29 of the Industrial Dispute Act 1948):

           Any person who commits a breach of any term of any settlement or award, which is binding on him under this Act, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine, or with both, and where the breach is a continuing one, with a further fine which may extend to two hundred rupees for every day during which the breach continues after the conviction for the first and the Court trying the offence, if it fines the offender, may direct that the whole or any part of the fine realised from him shall be paid, by way of compensation, to any person who, in its opinion has been injured by such breach.

(e) Penalty for disclosing Confidential information (Section 30) : 

           Any person who willfully discloses any such information as is referred to in section 21 in contravention of the provisions of that section shall, on complaint made by or on behalf of the trade union or individual business affected, be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.

(f) Penalty for closure without notice Section 30A): 

          Any employer who closes down any undertaking without complying with the provisions of section 25FFA shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to five thousand rupees, or with both.


(g) Penalty for other offices (Section 31) :

       Any employer who contravenes the provisions of section 33 shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term, which may extend to six months, or with fine, which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both. (2) Whoever contravenes any of the provisions of this act or any rule made thereunder shall, if no other penalty is elsewhere provided by or under this Act for such contravention, be punishable with fine, which may extend to one hundred rupees.


See also


Labor Court : Jurisdiction, Duties and Functions of the Labor Court

              

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