No fundamental right to strike

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Article 33

Mains level : Paper 2- Issue of strike by government employees

Context

Recently, the Minister of Defence introduced the Essential Defence Services Bill, 2021.

About the Essential Defence Services Bill, 2021

  • The Bill seeks to provide for the maintenance of essential defence services so as “to secure the security of nation and the life and property of the public at large”.
  • Prohibit strike by ordinance factory staff: It prevents staff of the government-owned ordnance factories from going on strike.
  • Power to declare essential service: The Bill seeks to empower the government to declare services mentioned in it as “essential defence services” and prohibit strikes and lockouts in any industrial establishment or unit engaged in such services.

No fundamental right to strike

  • There is no fundamental right to strike under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.
  • Under Article 33 of the Constitution, Parliament, by law, can restrict or abrogate the rights of the members of the armed forces or the forces charged with the maintenance of public order.
  • Thus, for the armed forces and the police, where discipline is the most important prerequisite, even the fundamental right to form an association can be restricted under Article 19(4) in the interest of public order and other considerations.

Supreme Court judgements on the issue

  • Many states prohibit strikes: This is not for the first time that strikes by government employees are being made explicitly illegal by the government, many states have similar provisions.
  • The Supreme Court in Delhi Police v. Union of India (1986) upheld the restrictions to form association by the members of the non-gazetted police force.
  • While the right to freedom of association is fundamental, recognition of such association is not a fundamental right.
  • Parliament can by law regulate the working of such associations by imposing conditions and restrictions on their functions, the court held.
  • In T.K. Rangarajan v. Government of Tamil Nadu (2003), the Supreme Court held that the employees have no fundamental right to resort to strike.

Conclusion

Strikes cannot be justified on any equitable ground. Strike as a weapon is mostly misused which results in chaos

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