With the emergence of Trade Unions across Karnataka in the 1960s, Employers felt the need for an Organisation that can deal with the unions and their leaders on behalf of Management and balance Unions’ influence by unifying employers and responding to Unions’ actions. As the major aspects of economic development and social policies are Government driven in India, it provided a rationale for Employers in the State to ensure that policies and legislations did not adversely affect the rights and prerogatives of Employers, their business growth and development.
In the then emerging industrial relations scenario, engaging in collective bargaining at the industry level was an important rationale for the existence of an Employer’s Organisation and in its absence, collective bargaining was occurring largely at the individual enterprise level. This posed multiple problems and issues to industries at large. Having regard to the above factors, a strong need was felt in the minds of some of the Employers of Factories and Plantations to form an Employers’ Organisation.
At this juncture, in 1961, an incident occurred that accelerated the formation of an Employers’ Organisation in the State of the then Mysore. A Vakalat was filed by a lawyer, Sri. G. K. Govinda Bhat (GKG) at the request of Mr B. R. Puttananjappa (BRP) on behalf of Yadalam’s Textile Mills at Bangalore related to its labour law problems. The representation of the Mill by a legal practitioner was objected to by a Labour Union Leader citing Section 36 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. As per the provisions of the Act, a party to a dispute may be represented by a legal practitioner with the consent of the other parties to the proceeding. Alternatively, an Officer of an Employer’s Organisation (EO) could represent the matter of Employee’s Union as a matter of right.
This incident gave rise to the formation of the Employer’s Organisation, Mysore State Employer’s Association in 1961 with the coming together of ten employers from various Factories, Plantations, and the Hotel Industry. Sri. M. L. Manjunatha Setty, Coffee Planter of M/s. Kumargod Coffee Estate was elected as the First President and Sri. BRP as the First Secretary of the Association. The main aim of the organisation is to protect the interest of Employers in the State of Mysore and to enable them to be represented by competent office bearers of the said Association before the Labour Court, Industrial Tribunal and Conciliation Machinery.
Due to the pragmatic and professional handling of the IR and Labour Law issues, the Mysore State Employer’s Association was regarded as a guide by the Employers in the State and even appreciated by the Labour Leaders for their conciliatory role who then extended their cooperation to the association. The Officials of the Labour Department also commended the role and views of the Mysore State Employer’s Association.
After the formation of Karnataka, the name of the Association was amended to Karnataka State Employer’s Association and eventually Karnataka Employers’ Association, as it stands today.
Thus, Karnataka Employers’ Association grew over the years and went on to celebrate its Silver Jubilee and now its Golden Jubilee. As of today, it has a Membership of 665 Industries and continues to grow further.
As per Clause (3) of the Byelaws of KEA, any Employer, Co-operative Society, individual, Firm, Joint Stock Company, Banking Company, Statutory Body, Financial Institution, Chamber of Commerce, Educational or Professional Institution is eligible to become a Member of the Association.
During the last four decades, it is observed that about 40 – 50 New Members seek admission and about 25 – 30 members resign from the membership of the Association each year. As a result, the net addition to the Membership is about 15 – 20 each year.
Clause (4) of the Byelaws provides for the admission of Honorary Members. It provides that persons whose services are deemed necessary for the furtherance of the objects of the Association may be admitted as Honorary Members of the Association, either by the General Body or the Executive Committee and taken as one of the Officers of the Association. On such admission, they become Members of the Executive Committee automatically and shall hold office till the next election.
Clause (11) of the Byelaws provides that the Management of the Association shall vest in an Executive Committee consisting of 9 Officers and 8 other Members all elected at the Annual General Meeting once in two years.
The Executive Committee has the power to co-opt up to 4 Additional members of the Executive Committee.
The Executive functions of the Association shall be performed by the Secretary, under the guidance of the President and Vice Presidents