Right to Strike under Labour Laws

Right to Strike under Labour Laws

By Ankita Kumari (Student of Institute of Law, Nirma University, Batch of 2025)

[Image Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/india/11840570/Millions-strike-in-India-to-protest-against-Modis-labour-reforms.htmlImage]


The just and equitable social system that safeguards everyone’s human rights, irrespective of their nationality, race, or social or economic status, is what the contemporary, progressive world sees. Any act that is biased, discriminatory, or partisan has occasionally been opposed, and as a result, laws have been passed to stop such atrocities. Employees and workers have long used the term “strike” as a powerful tool to pressure employers into resolving their grievances. Massive amounts of labor were required in the mines and factories at the start of the Industrial Revolution, which prompted strikes to resolve disagreements. As a result, historical evidence can be linked to the 19th century, when global attacks started to become commonplace. Most Western countries had partially legalized strikes by the late 19th or early 20th century.

A “strike” is a protest by a group of employees demanding that their complaints and/or demands be addressed by the employer or management.

The Indian Constitution does not particularly mention the right to strike. Due to the fact that it derives from the fundamental Article 19 of the Constitution, this right is not absolute Right. As given in Article 19, every citizen has the following rights:

  • the right to free speech and expression;
  • uniting in harmony and without violence;
  • establish an organisation or organisation.

The Trade Union Act of 1926, which gave them restricted strike rights and legalised some activities, was the first provision. This right is acknowledged legally by the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, and it is accessible.

Strike procedures have been outlined in Sections 62, 63, and 64 of the Industrial Relations (“IR”) Code. The law mandates notification via notice 14 days prior to the strike and forbids strikes during the seven-day conciliation proceeding or sixty days following the conclusion of tribunal proceedings. The same restricts the ability of workers and employees to strike, which has been acknowledged as a crucial aspect of industrial law.

The law acknowledges the right to strike under Section 2(q) as well as under Sections 22, 23, and 24. Under the ID Act of 1947, strikes were prohibited for public utility services because they would cause serious issues that would affect the entire country.

While in the IR Code, the ban on strikes and lockouts has been expanded to include all businesses and industries without any justification. In fact, they had suggested that, while the legislation covers all industries, strike restrictions should only be allowed for public utility services like railways, airlines, telephone services, etc. while the bill was being examined by the Standing Committee in 2019.

Judicial Pronouncements Related to Right to Strike

Although the Apex Court has explicitly stated that the right to strike is not a fundamental right, the court has on numerous occasions upheld workers’ and employees’ rights to speak up in front of their employer in order to seek redress. Explaining the importance of strike in BR Singh v Union of India, the court held that Trade Unions can bargain more effectively with management as compared to individuals. If the union is unable to use agitational tactics like a “sit-down strike” or “strike,” the strength will decrease.

Besides, in Kotagiri v Rajmanickan the court perceived strike as a weapon which would guarantee and power the business to take a gander at the issues of the representatives and rule in a fair way having figured out the repercussions of an out of line judgment. Moreover, through points of reference plainly legal executive sanctions a strike on the off chance that the equivalent is simply and sensible as indicated by the circumstance within reach and doesn’t conflict with the statute.

Although it was determined that there is no right to strike in the case of TK Rangarajan v. Government of Tamil Nadu, the same ruling did not supersede the ruling in Gujarat Steel Tubes v. Its Mazdoor Sabha, which was made by a three-judge bench as opposed to the former, which was made by a two-judge bench. In the latter case, the court decided that the right to strike is essential to collective bargaining and that industrial law has long recognised this. 

International Organizations

India must adhere to the fundamental principles of the International Labour Organization (“ILO”), which include the right to strike and collective bargaining, as an ILO member. India should acknowledge the provision of right to strike as stated in Article 8(1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights since it is a signatory to the covenant. According to the law, India is required to adopt and introduce national laws that are consistent with the signed international treaties under Article 51(C) of the Constitution, which addresses the need for India to respect its obligations under international law and treaties, and Article 253 of the Constitution, which specifies how laws should be made regarding international agreements. Therefore, it is important to acknowledge the right to strike and not to restrict it.

The workers interests are protected by the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They are allowed to establish associations and unions. Additionally, their constitutional privilege to form an association is followed by the right to strike.


It is abundantly clear that the right to strike is a significant aspect of industrial law in India and throughout the world. The judiciary has supported the right to strike in its own unique way, but judicial precedents have not adequately addressed the issue. The ID Act, 1947, which recognized strikes and followed a simpler process for their implementation, provided the necessary respite.

The right to strike has almost completely disappeared under the new legislation that replaces the ID Act of 1947. The conciliation officer must be notified five days prior to a strike, after which the proceedings will begin. The workers are unable to strike while the same is being done. The aggrieved party will file an application with the tribunal, which can be extended beyond the 60-day statutory period if the parties’ rounds of negotiation are unsuccessful. Going on strike is not allowed during this time, as stated above. This essentially establishes that the current legal framework forbids collective bargaining representation and we all know that the core of trade unions and associations is collective bargaining, but this is only possible if the right to strike is recognized as a fundamental right.


Because of the strict laws in place that prevent workers from striking, the Apex court must be on guard and Suo-Moto must file a case to have the right to strike recognized as a fundamental right. The same is advised because, according to the ruling in Syndicate Bank v. Umesh Nayak, a strike is the last resort weapon that must be used when all other settlement options have failed. Given that labour laws were put in place to protect workers’ rights, removing the right to strike is unfair and plays right into the hands of businesses, which can exploit these workers by absolving themselves of any liability if they go on strike. If this is not done, the underprivileged worker will not be able to seek justice through the legislative or judicial processes.

As stated in the article, the right to strike should only be used as a last resort if negotiations or other forms of communication have failed. The new law makes it very challenging for workers to voice their concerns and obtain justice because it makes going on strike nearly impossible. The best course of action would be to suo-moto make right to strike a fundamental right in light of the precedents mentioned above. The ideal scenario would be the same because “the workers,” for whom the law was changed, would be treated fairly.

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