Trade Unions and Labour Laws in India

One fine day, a Company gets a letter from Trade Union XYZ stating that the workers have become members of the Union and the management should negotiate with them on a number of issues. A list of protected employees is prepared by the Union and general demands are also raised. The copies of the letters were marked to the Government Labour Office, Local Police Station and other Government Agencies.
The Union leader then visits the factory accompanied by, as usual, a large number of body guards, muscle men etc. to put on a show of power. Signboards are installed outside the factory premises with a lot of fanfare and media coverage. Local politicians, irrespective of political affiliations, are invited for the inauguration of the Board.

Now, how should a management deal with this situation? Do labour laws in India have provisions to deal with such situations?

It is always better to send a reply to the letter of the Union stating that the management is in the process of verifying it’s contents. The management should verify the correctness of the statements in the letter, thereafter; the management can decide whether to negotiate with the Union or to decide to get rid of the Union. Getting rid of the Union is not an easy task; it may lead to confrontation which may result in work stoppage, violence and employee misconduct as has been seen in case of Maruti recently. It may also lead to law and order situations and therefore, a balanced approach is always beneficial.

The first step is to identify the reason why the Union was formed in the first place, it is very important to find out why all of a sudden the workers felt the necessity to join the Union, if the cause is genuine the management should provide remedial measures which may keep the Union at bay.

However, if an initial bond is developed and workers are not willing to give up the Union and confrontation is not possible, the best option is to get into a process of Collective Bargaining. You may refer to the write up on Collective Bargaining under Indian employment law further.

In the above context, it is necessary to view the articles on Industrial Violence as there is always a real possibility of violence breaking out in such situations.