The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947


The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, contains provisions for the settlement and investigation of industrial disputes.

An ‘industry’ means any ‘systematic activity’ carried on through cooperation between an employer and workers – employed directly or through an agency or contractor –  for the production, supply or distribution of goods or services, whether or not any capital has been invested for such an activity, or the activity is carried out for profit. An industrial establishment or undertaking is the place where the activity is carried out.

The Act, passed by Parliament on March 11, 1947, extends to the whole of India.


  1. What is an industrial dispute?

    ‘Industrial dispute’ refers to any dispute between employers and employers, employers and workers, or among workers, which is connected with the employment, ‘non-employment’, terms of employment or the conditions of labour of any person. Disputes between an individual worker and their employer which arise out of the worker’s discharge, dismissal, retrenchment, or a termination of their services, shall be deemed as an industrial dispute.

  2. What is a Works Committee?

    If an industrial establishment employs 100 or more workers, or has done so in the preceding 12 months, the ‘appropriate Government’ (central or state) may pass an order for it to constitute a Works Committee consisting of representatives of the establishment’s employers and workers. The number of the workers’ representatives shall not be less than the number of representatives of the employers.

    The Works Committee shall promote measures for securing and preserving “amity and good relations” between the employer and workers, to discuss matters of their common interest or concern, and “…endeavour to compose any material difference of opinion in respect of such matters.”

  3. What does the Act say about constituting Labour Courts?

    The ‘appropriate Government’ may – by issuing a notification in The Gazette of India – constitute one or more Labour Courts for adjudicating industrial disputes. A Labour Court shall consist of one judge appointed by the ‘appropriate Government’. The judge shall only be qualified for appointment if they are, or have been, a High Court Judge; a District Judge or an Additional District Judge for at least three years; if they have held any judicial office in India for at least seven years; or if they have been the presiding officer of a Labour Court constituted under an Act of a state government for at least five years.

  4. When can an employer alter the conditions of service of workers in an industry?

    The Act stipulates that no employer can propose any change in the conditions of service of any worker without giving them prior notice, unless notified by the central or state government that this provision does not apply “…to that class of industrial establishments.” Employers shall not enforce any such change without giving a 21-day notice to the worker.

  5. What are the conditions for retrenching workers?

    No worker employed in an industry, who has been in continuous service for not less than a year, shall be retrenched by their employer unless the worker is given a month’s notice in writing, or they have been paid compensation at the time of retrenchment. Such compensation shall be equivalent to the worker’s average pay for 15 days, for every completed year of continuous service.

  6. What does the Act say about ‘public utility services’?

    ‘Public utility service’ refers to any railway, postal, telegraph or telephone service; industries supplying power, light or water to the public; or any section of an industrial establishment “…on the working of which the safety of the establishment or the workmen employed therein depends.” The ‘appropriate Government’ may declare an industry as a public utility service through a notification in The Gazette of India.

    The Act says that no worker employed in a ‘public utility service’ shall breach their contract of employment and go on strike when ‘conciliation proceedings’ are pending, or without giving their employer notice of at least two weeks. Such a notice has to be given within the six weeks preceding the strike.

    Focus and Factoids by Jinson George Chacko.


Ministry of Law and Justice


Government of India, New Delhi


11 Mar, 1947