A settlement can be terminated but only by giving a notice by majority of workers. During the the currency of the settlement if another group of employees have formed a new union and they have decided to make a charter of demands they can do so by terminating the existing settlement provided they have majority among the workers. For an employer, this can be established by conducting a referendum only. Once it is proved that the new group has majority over the union who made the settlement, they can terminate the same following section 19 of the ID Act.
I think our learned member Umakanthan Sir will be able to give a clarity on this issue.
6th June 2019 From India, Kannur
Sorry for my belated response though Mr.Madhu has taken pains to draw my attention to the thread through a private message.
I also fully agree that a settlement signed u/s 18(1) of the ID Act,1947 binds only the signatories to the settlement and at the same time, sec.18(3) of the Act puts a settlement arrived at u/s 12(3) with the assistance of a Conciliation Officer on a higher pedestal by extending its binding effect. Any way, both the settlements are as a result of the concept of collective bargaining encouraged by the very scheme of the ID Act,1947. Collective bargaining as such is basically a process of negotiation of wages and other conditions of employment by an organized body of employees with the employer. Whether under the Code of Discipline,1958 or under any Special Law relating to recognition of trade unions or even otherwise, among the organized body of employees participating in such collective bargaining, the dominant one is the trade union which commands majority of membership in the industry. After signing a long term settlement u/s 18(1) through the majority union that acted as the principal collective bargaining agent, the same group of workmen realign their support to some other union just merely for the sake of higher benefits or without any valid reasons like the existing settlement was obtained by fraud or contains terms if any contrary to the provisions of any law in force or impossibility of performance, it can not be encouraged for it would be an endless ding dong battle apart from being an unfair practice in industrial relations on the part of trade unions. Coming to the aspect of fairness of a settlement, one has to reiterate the observation of the Supreme Court in Herbertsons Case [ 1977 AIR 322 ] that it is not possible to scan a settlement in bits and pieces and hold some parts good and acceptable and others bad. Besides, the Supreme Court also observed in Tata Engineering & Locomotive Ltd case [ 1982(1)LLN ] that when most of the employees have accepted the terms of the settlement with open eyes then it should have to be presumed that such a settlement is just and fair. Therefore, the poster should throw more light on the reasons reasons cited by the union to terminate the existing settlement that was signed just some months before.
Regarding the interpretation of section 19 relating to the aspect of termination of a settlement, I have a different perception. As per ss(2) of sec.19, normally the settlement shall be binding for such period as is agreed upon by the parties. I am of the view that the issue of notice of termination of an existing settlement would arise only after the expiry of the period agreed upon or if no period is mentioned, after the expiry of six months only.
About the move of the new union, the management may turn down the demand in view of the subsisting long term settlement. Let the union invoke the provision of conciliation.
18th June 2019 From India, Salem