Unfair Labour Practices

The Industrial Dispute Act of 1947 (modified in 1982) outlines what constitutes unfair labour practices on the part of both employers and employees. The fifth schedule of the act contains a list of unfair labour practices on the part of employers and their trade unions, as well as unfair labour practices on the part of employees and their trade unions.

What is Meaning of Unfair Labour Practices?

Unfair labour practice commonly characterized as the taking undue advantages of workers in terms of giving extra hours to work and not paying for that, not paying the minimum wages, asking to work on holiday, no leave, etc.

Unfair labour practises are "any of the practises described under Schedule V of the Industrial Dispute Act," according to Section 2(ra).

It is mostly split into two categories −

  • Unfair labour practices by employers and their trade unions are covered in Part I.

  • The second section focuses on unfair labour practices by employees or employee unions.

It's not always illegal to treat someone unfairly. However, you may have grounds for bringing legal action and demanding damages if you encounter harassment, an uncomfortable work environment, or discrimination. The right to join a union and take part in its legal operations is guaranteed to every employer and employee. A person is deemed to have engaged in unfair labour practises if they participate in any of the forbidden behaviours.

Employer And Employer-Related Trade Union Unfair Labour Practises

The following are the unfair labour practices that are forbidden with regard to the employer and the employer’s trade union −

  • Interfere with employees’ ability to exercise their right as an employer to organise, join, or support a trade union in concerted activities for the benefit of collective bargaining or other forms of mutual protection or assistance, or to restrain employees from doing so, in the following situations:

  • Threatening to fire or discharge workers if they join a union

  • If a trade union is formed, threatening a lockout,

  • Providing workers with a pay raise at a critical time will thwart trade union efforts.

  • Interfere with, ruled over, or provide financial or other forms of support to any employer or trade union.

  • An employer who is genuinely committed to forming a trade union for his employees.

  • An employer who shows favoritism or prejudice toward one of the many trade unions trying to organize workers for its employers, even when that union is not a recognized trade union.

  • Establish employer support of labour unions for employees.

  • Encourage or discourage worker discrimination by encouraging or discouraging participation in any trade union.

  • Discharging or disciplining a worker if he urges another worker to join a trade union.

  • Dismissing or firing a worker for participating in a strike that is not illegal

  • Due to labour union activity, the seniority classification of workers has changed.

  • Refusal to promote workers to higher positions due to their union involvement.

  • Giving certain employees promotions that are underserved in an effort to incite conflict among other employees or demonstrate the power of their trade union.

  • Releasing active union members or office holders because of the activity of their union.

  • Worker discharge or dismissal

  • Using a victimisation strategy.

  • In the legitimate use of the employer’s rights, not in good faith.

  • By fabricating evidence to fraudulently accuse a worker in a criminal case.

  • Blatantly false justifications

  • Based on a false report of absence without leave

  • When conducting a domestic investigation, natural justice norms were completely disregarded.

  • Unjustified punishment for small infractions or technical problems without knowledge of the specific infraction’s nature or the worker’s prior work history

  • The normal work that was being done by workers as a means of ending a strike is eliminated in favour of contractors.

  • Transfer of a worker from one location to another under the pretence of adhering to management rules.

Unfair Labour Practises on The Part of Employees or Labour Unions

The following are the unfair labour practices that workers and their unions are barred from engaging in −

  • Advise, participate in, incite, or support any strike that the Act deems unlawful.

  • Restrict workers from exercising their right to form a union, stop them from doing so, or engage in self-organization in the following situations:

  • Picketing by the trade unions so that non-strikers are physically prevented from entering the workplaces

  • Engage in acts of violence against non-striking workers or make intimidation threats in connection with a strike.

  • A recognized union refuses to negotiate with the employer in good faith.

  • Engage in coercive tactics to prevent a bargaining representative’s certification.

  • Encourage or incite coercive behaviors such as deliberate "go-slow" behavior, squatting on the job site after hours, or "gherao" behaviour on the part of any management or other staff member.

  • Demonstrations are staged at employers’ homes.

  • Engage in any intentional destruction of employer property connected to the sector.

  • Engage in any act of force or violence against a worker or make threats to him in an effort to keep him away from his job.

Discrimination Against Unfair Labour Practices

Employer or trade union of employer, or any worker or trade union of workers, whether registered under the Trade Unions Act, 1926 or not, shall not engage in any unfair labour practice, according to Section 25T of the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947.

Punishment for Engaging in Unfair Labour Practices

Any person who engages in an unfair labour practice is subject to punishment under Section 25U of the Industrial Dispute Act of 1947, which carries a possible six-month prison sentence, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.

Statutes At the State Level

According to the Madhya Pradesh Industrial Relations Act of 1960, no employee should be treated unfairly because they hold office in a union, have participated in union activities, have gone on a lawful strike, or have testified as witnesses in any legal proceedings. The Bombay Industrial Relations Act of 1946 mentions similar clauses (BIRA). The MRTUPULPA (Maharashtra Recognition of Trade Unions and Prevention of Unfair Labour Practices Act, 1971) outlines certain safeguards against anti-union discrimination.

Every industry that the BIRA and the Industrial Dispute Act apply to is covered by the Act. What it offers is −

  • The formalization of trade union obligations and rights, the declaration of powers over unrecognized unions.

  • The regulation of lockouts and strikes by defining the associated illegality.

  • The listing of unfair labour practices and provides prevention for the same, and the establishment of relevant labour judiciary institutions to handle matters arising out of the provisions of the act.

Judgements Related to Unfair Labour Practice (ULP)

Some of the judgements related to ULP are −

Sports Authority of India v. Labour Commissioner, Delhi Administration (12 March 2014) 

Watch and ward staff, security officers, and chowkidars are all regularly employed. The Sports Authority of India employs regular workers, such as watchmen, guards, and chowkidars, and the job of watch and security guards necessitates the employment of a sufficient number of full-time workers. The management of the Sports Authority of India, the principal employer, has been continuously engaging in unfair labour practises as defined in the Fifth Schedule of the Industrial Disputes Act 1947 and also in violation of the provisions of contract labour.

General Labour Union (Red Flag) v. B. V. Chavan and Ors (16 November 1984) 

By maintaining and enforcing a lockout, the learned judge posed the question of whether the employer's head engaged in unfair labour practises. The appellant union submitted two special civil applications contesting the accuracy of the Industrial Court's ruling. A lockout that is imposed and maintained in violation of the IDA is an unfair labour practice. If the employer experiences ongoing losses, there is little chance of the business growing, or it is impossible to continue the industrial activity, they may stop it. Therefore, the proper strategy should be to argue that the employer has closed the industrial activity rather than imposing a lockout.

Regional Manager, SBI v. Mahatma Mishra (1 November 2006) 

Considering that the respondent was hired on May 3, 1982, and fired on September 3, 1982, the Labour Court determined that the respondent's employment as a temporary messenger was not of a casual but rather of a permanent nature. In addition, it was determined that the management had reported an unfair labour practise. The Labour Court ruled that the termination of the respondent's employment would be illegal because no written notice had been given to him prior to that, and a bipartite settlement between the bank and the workers was recommended. Both the High Court and the Labour Court concluded that there were no artificial pauses in the respondent’s appointment over a period of years.


The basic law governing the investigation and resolution of all labour disputes, the Industrial Disputes Act of 1942, was revised in 1982, and it now includes provisions for unfair labour practises by both employers and employees, as well as their respective trade unions. The Maharashtra Recognition of Trade Unions and Prevention of Unfair Labour Practices Act, 1971, is another significant state law that offers workers crucial legal protections against victimisation and persecution at the hands of their employer and guards against other unfair labour practices.


Q1. What is meaning of prohibition of unfair labour practice?

Ans. As defined in Industrial Dispute Act, prohibition of unfair labour practice means No employer or workman or a trade union, whether registered under the Trader Unions Act, 1926 (16 of 1926), or not, shall commit any unfair labour practice.

Q2. What is the penalty for committing unfair labour practices?

Ans. As per Industrial Dispute Act, Penalty for committing unfair labour practices defined as - any person who commits any unfair labour practice shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees or with both.

Updated on: 14-Feb-2023

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