CONCILIATION AND MEDIATION - Industrial Relations Management


Mediation is an ADR method where a neutral and impartial third party, the mediator, facilitates dialogue in a structured multi-stage process to help parties reach a conclusive and mutually satisfactory agreement. A mediator assists the parties in identifying and articulating their own interests, priorities, needs and wishes to each other. Mediation is a “peaceful” dispute resolution tool that is complementary to the existing court system and the practice of arbitration.

Arbitration and mediation both promote the same ideals, such as access to justice, a prompt hearing, fair outcomes and reduced congestion in the courts. Mediation, however, is a voluntary and non-binding process - it is a creative alternative to the court system. Mediation often is successful because it offers parties the rare opportunity to directly express their own interests and anxieties relevant to the dispute. In addition, mediation provides parties with the opportunity to develop a mutually satisfying outcome by creating solutions that are uniquely tailored to meet the needs of the particular parties. A mediator is a neutral and impartial person; mediators do not decide or judge, but instead becomes an active driver during the negotiation between the parties. A mediator uses specialized communication techniques and negotiation techniques to assist the parties in reaching optimal solutions.

Mediation is a structured process with a number of procedural stages in which the mediator assists the parties in resolving their disputes. The mediator and the parties follow a specific set of protocols that require everyone involved to be working together. This process permits the mediator and disputants to focus on the real problems and actual difficulties between the parties. Moreover, the parties are free to express their own interests and needs through an open dialogue in a less adversarial setting than a courtroom. The main aim of mediation is to assist people in dedicating more time and attention to the creation of a voluntary, functional and durable agreement. The parties themselves posses the power to control the process- they reserve the right to determine the parameters of the agreement. In mediation, the parties also reserve the right to stop anytime and refer a dispute to the court system or perhaps arbitration.

In addition to economic and legal skills, mediators are professionals who possess specialized technical training in the resolution of disputes. A mediator plays a dual role during the mediation process- as a facilitator of the parties’ positive relationship, and as an evaluator adept at examining the different aspects of the dispute. After analyzing a dispute, a mediator can help parties to articulate a final agreement and resolve their dispute. The agreement at the end of the mediation process is product of the parties’ discussions and decisions. The aim of mediation is to find a mutually satisfactory agreement that all parties believe is beneficial. Their agreement serves as a landmark and reminds parties of their historical, confrontational period, and ultimately helps them anticipate the potential for future disputes.


Conciliation refers to the process by which representatives of employees and employers are brought together before a third party with a view to discuss, reconcile their differences and arrive at an agreement through mutual consent. The third party acts as a facilitator in this process. Conciliation is a type of state intervention in settling the Industrial Disputes. The Industrial Disputes Act empowers the Central & State governments to appoint conciliation officers and a Board of Conciliation as and when the situation demands.

Conciliation Officer: The appropriate government may, by notification in the official gazette, appoint such number of persons as it thinks fit to be the conciliation officer. The duties of a conciliation officer are:

  1. To hold conciliation proceedings with a view to arrive at amicable settlement between the parties concerned.
  2. To investigate the dispute in order to bring about the settlement between the parties concerned.
  3. To send a report and memorandum of settlement to the appropriate government.
  4. To send a report to the government stating forth the steps taken by him in case no settlement has been reached at.

The conciliation officer however has no power to force a settlement. He can only persuade and assist the parties to reach an agreement. The Industrial Disputes Act prohibits strikes and lockouts during that time when the conciliation proceedings are in progress

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