Labour Laws Q/A

An Apprentice and Workman

Whether a trainee or an apprentice will fall within the definition of ‘workman’ as defined under the Industrial Disputes Act
Although definition of ‘workman’ under section 2(s) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 provides that any person including the apprentice can be regarded as ‘workman’ if he is employed in any industry to do any skilled or unskilled, manual, supervisory, technical or clerical work for hire or reward. In other words, the existence of relationship of an employer and employee is the essence of the matter. However, in the absence of relationship of employer and employee, the employer would be justified in contending that a person is not a workman on the ground that there is no relationship of employer and employee between the parties. In one case before the Karnataka High Court while upsetting the award of the Labour Court, their Lordships had held that the Labour Court did not apply its mind to the area of controversy between the parties and had not recorded a finding in that behalf, viz., in regard to existence of relationship of employer and employee. Furthermore, section 18 of the Apprentices Act, 1961, provides that apprentices are not workers and that the provisions of any law with respect to labour shall
not apply to or in relation to such apprentices.1 The Madras High Court has confirmed that an apprentice other than one engaged under the Apprentices Act, 1961 is a ‘workman’ as defined by section 2(s) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.2
Merely an apprentice who was permitted to work on the post of Tongue Machine Operator and there were also recommendations in favour, he will not become a ‘workman’ under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 as held by Allahabad High Court.3

1. Management of Tungabhadra Sugar Works (P) Ltd. v. Labour Court, Mangalore, 1982 (61) FJR 329: 1982 Lab IC 1165 (1167-88) (Kant). Also see Bhaskaran v. Kerala State Electricity Board, 1986 (68) FJR 328 (Ker HC): 1986 KLT 447; Hanuman Prasad Chaudhary v. Rajasthan State Electricity Boards, Jaipur, 1986 Lab IC 1014: 1985 Raj LR 842.

2. Rajendran v. Presiding Officer, Principal Labour Court Madras, 1992 LLR 703 (Mad HC); Uttar Pradesh State Electricity Board v. Ashok Kumar Shukla, 2003 (97) FLR 822: 2003 (II) LLJ 1013: 2003 LLR 645 (All HC); Mukesh K. Tripathi v. Senior Divisional Manager, LIC, (2004) 8 SCC 387: AIR 2004 SC 4179: 2004 All LJ 3425: 2004 LLR 993 (SC); National Small Industries Corporation Ltd. v. V. Lakshminarayanan, 2007 LLR 154 (SC).

3. Tannery & Footwear Corporation of India Ltd. v. Labour Court II, Kanpur, 1993 LLR 579 (All HC).

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