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A TOTAL of 8,142 cases are pending before labour courts in Mumbai, including 122 for over 10 years, according to the National Judicial Data Grid. Labour courts functioning under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, apply to various establishments and industries in the country, and solve disputes of workers including issues pertaining to wages, allowances, dismissals, bonus, injuries, accidents, and discrimination.
The courts in Mumbai have jurisdiction on establishments registered under the Factories Act within Mumbai.
Experts say pending cases have increased over the years including a sharp change since 2010 when the Industrial Disputes Act was amended.
“The amendment has enabled disputing parties to directly access labour courts. Prior to that, it was mandatory to bring the dispute to the conciliation officers to reach a possible settlement before approaching courts. This has led to an increased burden on the labour courts,” said Dr Rahul Sapkal, assistant professor of law and economics at the Maharashtra National Law University in Mumbai.
He adds that trade union activity having gone down is one of the reasons for increase in pendency. “The trade union members also functioned as mediators to solve disputes for which the individual worker may now approach court,” he said.
Sapkal had analysed data comprising samples of labour disputes filed between 2008 and 2011 from two Central Government Industrial cum Labour Courts in Mumbai and Delhi.
In a paper published on his study, Sapkal argued that at an aggregate level, labour disputes settled in conciliation process through alternate disputes redressal through mediation involving conciliation officers (labour officers), trade unions and employees, takes less time than cases before labour courts.
“The study also showed that overall conciliation process succeeded in reducing differences in the initial claim and final payments received by workers, and improving their settlement rate through mutual bargaining,” Sapkal said.
He adds that alternative disputes redressal being promoted as a solution for commercial disputes between companies all over the world can also be looked at for labour disputes by involving private individuals as mediators to settle claims.