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[Excerpt] Maharashtra is one of the highly industrialized and commercially well-developed states in India. It has a population of over 95 million people in an area of over 300 sq. km., giving it a density of 314 people per sq. km. A little over 40 per cent of its population lives in urban areas and the state boasts of a high literacy rate of 77 per cent as of 2001. It accounts for 10 per cent of geographical area and population, 15 per cent of urban population, 11 per cent of working factories and factory employment as of 2002-03. The state’s share in India’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2000-01 was 14 per cent. Maharashtra had the second highest per capita net state domestic product (at current prices), next only to Haryana, in 2002-03. It has been the most preferred investment destination for many years. The state figures prominently in the history of labour movement and industrial relations in India.

The study of labour markets and industrial relations in a state has assumed special importance following the economic reforms process that has been under way since 1991. States can now freely compete for capital and design policies for attracting investment. As the economic reform process gained momentum, significant economic policies came to be introduced since the mid-1990s. It is in this context that the study of industrial relations in Maharashtra between 1995 and 2006 will be of interest.

This paper seeks to study the current state of industrial relations in Maharashtra. The exercise covers, as far as possible, the period 1995-2006. Depending on availability, the data for the end year of the period will vary in the case of some variables. The state labour departments are not prompt in compiling statistics, unlike other departments which produce data relating to state income, consumer prices etc. The Labour Bureau, which compiles the statistics on several variables on industrial relations, reports non-submission or late submission of annual returns under various labour laws. The validity and reliability of labour statistics are, therefore, not strong.