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The Industrial Relations System - a Historical Background

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Essay title: The Industrial Relations System - a Historical Background

Prior to 1965, the voluntary system of industrial relations patterned along the British system was in practice. Under such system, the concept of self-government and autonomy within industry was the key to industrial harmony. The two sides of industry were encouraged to regulate their collective relationship and to settle any dispute arising therefrom through their own efforts and through mutually agreed procedures, with minimal State intervention, such intervention being confined mainly to providing a legal frame-work to which the parties could turn to if they so wished, in accordance with the Industrial Courts Ordinance, 1948 and the Trade Disputes Ordinance 1949. The Industrial Courts Ordinance provided for the promotion of peaceful and voluntary settlement of trade disputes through conciliation by a third party or through the voluntary reference of a dispute to the Industrial Court for arbitration. The Trade Disputes Ordinance provided the Government with supervisory powers to maintain vigilance over trade disputes and certain matters arising from such disputes so as to ensure and safeguard the interests of the public generally.

In September 1965, the Essential (Trade Disputes in Essential Services) Regulations, 1965 was promulgated. It was designed to ensure that trade disputes in certain scheduled services would not lead to disruption of such services. These Regulations vested in the Minister of Labour certain powers to intervene of his own volition in such disputes and if necessary, to refer them to the Industrial Arbitration Tribunal for settlement. No strike or lock-out could be declared or where already declared could continue once the Minister had so intervened.

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