Ranajoy Mukherjee
Asked July 12, 2016

Changing Conditions of Service

  • 1 Answer

Can management change the service conditions during pendency of proceedings by the request of 2 workers?

Answer 1

Section 33 of the Industrial Disputes Act (as amended in 1956) prohibits the employer from changing the conditions of service during the pendency of conciliation proceedings before a Conciliation Officer or Board; any proceeding before an Arbitrator; and any proceeding before Labour Court, Tribunal or National Tribunal.

However, it allows the employer to make changes in conditions of service, or to discharge or dismiss employees in relation to matters not connected with the pending industrial dispute. [1]

At the same time, it also has some safeguards provided for the workmen, which is that the employer must make an application for prior permission if the proposed change in the service conditions, or the proposed dismissal/discharge is in connection with a pending dispute. [2] He should also be paid wages for one month.[3]

So, in cases where there is no connection to the pending suit, and where the workman is to be discharged or dismissed:

  • Firstly there has to be an order of discharge or dismissal; and
  • the concerned workman has to be paid wages for one month; and
  • An application is to be made to the authority concerned before which the earlier proceeding is pending, for approval of the action taken by the employer.

    Under Section 33A, if an employer violates the provisions of Section 33 during the pendency of proceedings, the aggrieved employee can make a complaint in writing, to the Conciliation Board/officer before whom the proceedings are pending, and this Board/officer shall take such compliant into account in mediating in, and promoting the settlement of, such industrial dispute. If the case is pending before an arbitrator, Labour Court, Tribunal or National Tribunal, then the employee must make a complaint in writing before the arbitrator, Labour Court, Tribunal or National Tribunal who will then decide on the complaint.

    Any employer who contravenes the provisions of Sec. 33 is punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or with fine which may extend to Rs. 1000/-, or with both.[4]



    [1] Section 33(2)(a) and (b) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. Available at https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1774629/

    [2] Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation and Another Vs. Satya Prakash (2013) 9 SCC 232

    [3] Section 33(2)(a) and (b) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.

    [4] Section 31, Industrial Disputes Act.

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