What is Strike?

What is Strike?

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Strike is concerted refusal to work on the part of workmen who are in a particular vocational area. Sections 2(q) of the Act defines it as under:
“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.”

Ingredients of Definition

a. Industry (any industry)
b. Cessation of work
c. Concerted refusal of work (etc)
d. Cessation of work must be in defiance of the authority of the employer.
e. Relationship of Employment (persons who have been so employed).
a. Industry: It is postulated in the definition that cessation of work must be in any industry. Needless to say that industry means industry as defined in section 2 (j) of the Act. Necessarily, therefore, if it is not an industry the question of “strike will not arise,” even if other ingredients of strikes are present or satisfied.
b. Cessation of work : The another ingredient is that there must be stoppage of work or cessation of work or refusal to continue to work or refusal to accept work. Undoubtedly, ‘refusal’ or ‘cessation’ by itself is not sufficient to fall within the mischief of the definition of strike and something more is necessary.
Never- theless, it is the stoppage of work which ultimately is the basic fabric of strike. Only the mannerism and methodology gives the full bloom expression to the term strike. The use of expression ”refusal to continue to work” unimistakebly indicates that even after starting the work, it can be stopped. Mere presence of certain workmen is the striking crowd in absence of any satisfactory proof of their having ceased to work or refused to work would not amount to strike. [O.K. Ghosh vis E. X. Joseph, 1962 II LLJ 615 (SC)]
c. Refusal must be concerted : The definition clearly indicates that the cessation of work must be a concerted action or that the refusal of work must be under a common understanding by persons employed by the Employer.
Surely, therefore, a combined or a joint-action of workers is most essential and vital ingredient in the definition. In order to establish such concert, there need be no formal meetings,
discussion or even inter change or mutual consent or assent to a common purpose or a course of conduct. It may be deduced from similar acts and course of conduct.
d. Cessation must be in defiance : In Standard Vaccum Oil Company vis M.G. Gunaseelam, 1954 I LLJ 656, the Labour Appellate Tribunal observed that it is implicit in the definition of strike that‘cessationof work’mustbein defiance of the employer’s authority. The question of defiance of the Employer’s authority will arise only when an employer has a legal right to ask his employees to work. If an employer has no right, in law, to ask his employees to work and yet he asks his employees to work but employees refuse to work then such a refusal by employees, even if a concerted action, would not amount to a strike. [North Brook Jute Co. Ltd vis Their workmen, 1960 I LLJ 580 (584) (SC)] Where two workmen were absent and there was no evidence to show that their absence was due to concert between the two or in defiance of employer’s authority, it was held that the absence did not constitute strike [Ram Scrap vis Rex, AIR 1949 All.218]
e. Relationship of Employment : The use of expression “persons employed” in the definition is a sure indication that there must be a contract of Employment. For reading the contract of Employment, there must be a relationship of “Master and Servant.” Thus relationship of ‘master and servant” leads to reading the contract of Employment. The contract of Employment, in turn, leads to reading a condition – may be express or implied that the workman will work. Unless, there is a condition to work, there cannot be a cessation of work. And unless, there is a cessation of work, there cannot be a strike. Thus relationship of employment plays a very pivotal role in construing a strike under the Act.