We are engineering industry, I am working as Plant HR. since last 2 months negotiations were going on on wage settlement with workers union. this union is registered but it is not recognised union as per MRTU & PULP Act. but yesterday all of sudden the committee members has walked out of meeting and stopped the work and went out side the gate and started shouting slogans against Management.
Given above scenario, please let me know,
How to handle this strike?
What preventive steps to be taken?
and lastly how to break this strike?
Looking forward for your reply.

From India, Mumbai
Dear Sucheta,
Worker strike is illegal strike you can make notice against Union and submit the nearest labour office. after that labour officer is inspection on industry and discussed with management and union leader.
also you can go with model standing Act

From India, Kolhapur
Dear Sucheta,
Apart from informing the Labour Office, things to be done at the plant level. Notice to be displayed for the attention of all the workers that the strike is illegal and anybody indulging in illegal strike is liable for disciplinary action. Also a separate notice that 8 days wages will be cut as per the sudden cat call strike, (subject to the provisions of your standing orders) Moreover, if the strike is partial affecting only a section of the process, then another separate notice to be displayed naming the preceding and succeeding sections, that work will be provided to the extent possible and if not possible, the workers in the preceding and succeeding sections of the work process, will be sent out on "No Work" without wages for the day. All the above notices are to be followed up with suitable actions, so that they will be used as a bargaining point at the time of negotiations.
M Venkatraghavan
E mail:

From India, Selam
Dear Sucheta, You can display on Notice " No work No Pay " as standing order act and you can discuss with Higher Management related for disciplinary action against illegal strike.
From India, Kolhapur
Dear Sucheta,

Your post seems to be incomplete for want of certain essential informations.

1)How many unions are functioning in your industry?

2) Is there a single union recognized under the MRTU&PULP Act as the sole Bargaining Agent?

3)If so, how come that you started negotiations with an unrecognized union regarding a common or general issue like wage revision?

4)Can we infer that you have not recognized any union among the many or even the only union functioning for obvious reasons?

5)Whether the stoppage of work following the walk out was only on the day of the last negotiation or continues indefinitely?

6)Whether yours is a Public Utility Service?

7) In any case, since it is in violation of the provisions relating to strike under the laws like the Bombay Industrial Relations Act, ID Act, MRTU&PULP Act or the certified Standing Orders of your industrial establishment did you inform the Conciliation Officer for your area?

8) Have you taken any of the legal steps so far narrated by Mr.Venkatraghavan?

From India, Salem
Breaking a strike is a very old terminology and also illegal and will be termed as Unfair Labour Practice. Let us use correct terminology in forums like this.
You need to resolve issuesl List down issues and once the workers are on strike, whether legal or illegal the matter gets referred to the local conciliation officer. Give a letter . Wait for a few days. If they resort to stay in strike, I always recommend lock out. Have dialogue with union and resolve as early as possible. All other means may sound heroic and interesting on paper. The fact remains that issues need to be resolved.

From India, Chennai
Ms. Sucheta_K,

Greetings ....

Strike is a legal right to Workers. My response to your queries would not cover “How to break a strike” but would guide you to amicable settlement with your workers. Please insist upon your Management not to get impatient on the issue that may lead to you to doing something wrong and take you to the other side of the fence putting you on defense. But from the text submitted by you I get a feel that the Strike, as you mentioned, is illegal and surely unwarranted for. However, it seems that your labours are "Picketing" outside your premises. To handle this you may kindly read the following steps and proceed.

1. Find out if enhancement of Wages is the only issue for workers are “picketing” for or there are other issues coupled with it.

2. Are the workers paid Minimum Wages or you have your own wage structure? In case you have your own wage structure for categories of Workmen, make sure that it is confirmatory to MW Act and rather is x% over and above the rates specified in the legal announcement. Keep your worksheets handy for presentation when required.

3. Has any dispute between your Management ever been sent to a council or the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA)? If yes, please keep it handy.

4. Did you Employer ever signed any agreement with the Union on “Wage Settlement”? If yes, please keep the signed agreement handy. Please note that a collective agreement or arbitration award binds the parties

5. Have your Management taken any decision that would change working condition of workers?

6. Is the Picketing/Strike for Wage Revision subject to a decision as in 5 above?

7. Are the Workers participating in Picketing/Strike the providing an essential or maintenance service. Are the job done by them are of “Perennial” nature? If so, is there any demand from them for Confirmation/Regularisation of services of involved workmen?

Once you have a dossier ready with all papers as above, please follow the steps as below.

a. Please get in touch with Labour Office having jurisdiction of your premises and find out from clerical staff there if respective authorities are aware of unrest in your premises / if any notice of Picketing/Strike is officially submitted to them by the Union.

b. List down the demands put forward by the Union in chronological order. Take the dossier to your Management, explain home-work done as above and ask them if they have anything at the back of their mind to partly meet any point listed on the “Charter of Demand”. Please make it absolute clear to your Management that it won’t be taken as a commitment but just to have a feel of their thoughts on the problem in hand.

c. Please note that as per Labour Relations Act 1999, a peaceful picketing outside the premises is very much legal. You may however go to a court and obtain an order for imposing 144 covering close vicinity of your premises.

d. Also, any Trade Union or one or more persons acting on their own behalf or on behalf of a Trade Union or of an individual employer or firm in contemplation or prolongation of a trade dispute, may attend at or near a place where a person works or carries on business or happens to be, if they so attend merely for the purpose of peacefully obtaining or communicating information or of peacefully persuading any person to work or abstain from working.

e. Note further that Picketers are not supposed to picket within the premises without exclusive permission of your Management.

f. Picketers are not to deal in or handle that employers' products.

g. They are also not supposed to disturb the business and manufacturing process of the employer.

Once you are satisfied with answers to all the points above, with due permission of your Management you may have discussions with few representatives of the Union for an amicable settlement.

If it does not work write a letter to Local Labour Commissioner to intervene and start Arbitration Procedure.


From India, Pune
Dear Sucheta,
You have to immediately file an application in the Labour Court for declaration of illegal strike u/s25 of MRTU & PULP Act. Simultaneously, you can initiate disciplinary action against those who have abetted the strike or indulged in indiscipline like violence or other such acts. If the acts are serious, you can suspend them pending enquiry. As already stated in other posts, put up a notice for no work no pay. You also need to file a complaint for unfair labour practices in the Industrial Court seeking injunction for prevention of obstruction to men and material and gherao of officers as also restraining willing workers from joining duties. Besides this, you have to keep a watch on each and every activity of the union, like sabotage on shop floor etc, immediate action needs to be taken. Basically the union has to be restrained by some judicial authority so that law and order will not be breached. Then issue chargesheets and hold enquiry against the errant workmen

From India, Pune
Dear Venkatraghavanji / Umakanthanji / Soumitraji / DMC123,

Thanks for your suggestions and queries.

We have only one union. Though Registered but not recognized as per MRTU & PULP.

With this union, we have entered into previous wage agreement. It was old union representative / committee with whom we have entered into previous wage settlement. After their term expired new committee was elected by workers with whom the negotiation were carried out.

We are not Public Utility Service.

We do not have Certified Standing Order instead we have Model Standing Orders.

Since Negotiation was going on, but we have not take help of Counciliation Officer.

We had put Notice on Notice Board at gate every shift insisting workers to come to work also mentioned "No Work No Pay". the copy of the same was sent to ALC, Factory Inspector, Police Station, Electricity Board.

At the enticement of some outside people some of workers started picketing and threatening staff members, managers of the plant.

Our pay structure as compared to surrounding industrial area is much better the lowest is being double of minimum wages applicable the industry plus all legal requirement e.g PF, Bonus, Insurance etc.

The hike they were asking for is nearly 3 times of current wages. We were ready for reasonable increase but no avail.

Now after 5 days, after lot of background work, we able to convince sizable employees to resume work. but decided to take disciplinary action against those involved in threatening staff and picketing by suspending pending enquiry and conduct domestic enquiry against them.

Those who have resumed work has formed new committee with whom management has started negotiation and concluded wage agreement.

The copy of Wage settlement was sent to Commissioner of Labour, Union, Labour Secretary.



From India, Mumbai
Dear Sucheta,

Sharing my view on said situation is, not need to panic because its a normal practice of workmen in any unionized industry for enforcing their inappropriate demands by strike, because every union members think that strike is the strong weapon for him. so be calm and now think about the law. are the picketing which has done by your company workers are legal, are they gave you notice regarding the same and what the other procedure is obtained by them ? for dismantle the union or strike you must counsel with the union members because always keep one thing in mind that any your action can create a new problems also for your industry. so just think several before initiating any actions. Second try to run the plant anyhow either by cook or by hook. because this is the main power for both as well as for you and for union members. if you failed to run your plant then it is the victory of union members and if you got success in running plant then its your victory. going to labour office or try to solve the matter through law is not more helpful to you. Because if you are aware about the labour law then it is not possible that union member are not aware of same law. use some diplomacy to resolve the matter. try to connect all members who are sitting out of factory one by one. and talk with him emotionally because as per my experience every person who sit or support to any union are don't want to join the same but due to some unfavourable or unsupportive situation they have to support the union members. you can talk with members in their home in front of family because every person want to be a gentleman in front of his family and don't want to discuss this matter in his house. use policy divide and rule.

Always remember that union strength is majority so whenever you got success on majority they will automatically laid back. never try to give attention on them because if you then they will think that what are doing by them is noticed by the management and they will try to do some more. so strike or labour problem is handled by trick , by diplomatic , and so many other tools but one thing must be in your mind that just think several time before acting any action.

From India, Rudarpur

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