The term ‘industrial relations’ refers to relationships between management and labour or among employees and their organisations that characterise or grow out of employment. Theoretically speaking, there are two parties in the ‘employment’ relationship – labour and management. Both parties need to work in a spirit of cooperation, adjustment and accommodation. In their own mutual interest certain rules for co-existence are formed and adhered to. Over the years, the State has also come to play a major role in industrial relations – one, as an initiator of policies and the other, as an employer by setting up an extremely large public sector. The term ‘industrial relations’ has been defined by different authors in different ways. Dale Yoder defined it as “a relationship between management and employees or among employees and their organisations, that characterise and grow out of employment”. According to R A Lester, industrial relations “involve attempts to have workable solutions between conflicting objectives and values, between incentive and economic security, between discipline and industrial democracy, between authority and freedom and between bargaining and cooperation”. According to the ILO, “industrial relations deal with either the relationships between the state and the employers and the workers’ organisation or the relation between the occupational organisations themselves”. The ILO uses the expression to denote such matters as “freedom of association and the protection of the right to organise, the application of the principles of the right to organise, and the right of collective bargaining, collective agreements, concilitation and arbitration and machinery for cooperation between the authorities and the occupational organisations at various levels of the economy.

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