Management Essorpe Mills Ltd. vs. Presiding Officer Labour Court provides a definite answer to the validity of the notice of strike under SECTION 22(1) of the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947.
BENCH: Justice Dr. Arijit Pasayat, Justice P. Sathasivam
MANAGEMENT, ESSORPE MILLS LTD. JUDGEMENT DATE: April 4th, 2008
MANAGEMENT, ESSORPE MILLS LTD. CASE CITATION: (2008) 7 SCC 594
MANAGEMENT, ESSORPE MILLS LTD. CASE FACTS:
- On 8th November 1990, respondents no. 2 to 23 went on strike, and then the two respondents died. They were the ones who started that strike in the blow room and, as a result, the operations of the appellant’s textile mill stopped. Then all the 55 workers supported them and followed them on the strike.
- Then all the workers who went on strike were terminated from their services. After the suspension, a few of them remained in the service, causing obstruction, and a few of them joined the service after apologizing.
- On 14th March 1991 under Section 22(1) of the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947 the Tamil Nadu Panchalai Workers Union general secretary served a notice of strike to the management stating that the commencement of strike will take place after 10 days, one month, and two days from notice.
- Disciplinary proceedings commenced, where twenty-three respondents were dismissed from their services. Under Section 2-A the petitions were filed regarding reinstatement with service continuity and back wages.
- On 24th January 1994, according to the Labour Court, the strike was considered illegal, and it further directed to pay compensation of Rs. 50,000 to workers for dismissal of their services.
- Then it was appealed at the High Court by both the parties before the single bench judge. On 5th August 2000, a writ petition filed by the respondents was allowed by the court and directed the petitioner to re-instate the workers with back wages and service continuity on the ground of non-compliance with Section 33 (2) (b) of the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947 which states that on the date of dismissal, the conciliation proceedings were pending and it was without the approval of conciliation officer which will consider the dismissal illegal.
- On 30th December 2003, the division bench of the High Court dismissed the writ appeal stating that the court did not differentiate between the proceedings pending before the Conciliation officer and the Industrial Tribunal.
- Then a Special leave petition was filed in the Supreme Court on 21st February 2004, which held that there must be an amicable settlement between the parties. The appellants agreed to the conditions, but the respondent did not agree to them.
- Is the notice served by the union valid or not under the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947?
- Whether the dismissal of the services of workmen is valid or not under the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947?
MANAGEMENT, ESSORPE MILLS LTD. CONTENTIONS (APPELLANT):
They contended that the notice of strike was not valid under Section 22(1) of the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947 as the notice was served on 14th March 1991 and the strike began on 24th March 1991 i.e. 10 days after the notice which is not valid under Section 22(1) of the act. Therefore, the conciliation proceedings will not be considered as commenced and hence the dismissal of the services of the workers will be considered legal.
CONTENTIONS OF THE RESPONDENT:
The respondents contended that the conciliation proceedings were pending during their dismissal and hence their dismissal was invalid and it was considered as deemed conciliation.
- Justice Dr. Arijit Pasayat, Justice P. Sathasivam: The bench stated that the notice was not under the law and it was not valid according to Section 22 of the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947 and hence there were no conciliation proceedings pending during the time of the dismissal of workers.
- They further stated that they did not give the notice six weeks before the strike, hence the notice will not be valid and this also proves that the employer was not aware of the conciliation proceedings.
The Supreme Court set aside the order of the single bench and division bench of the High Court and directed the respondents to comply with the terms as stated by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court held the dismissal of workmen valid on the grounds of non-compliance with Section 22(1) of the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947.
We can conclude from this case that the notice must be under the Section 22 of the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947, and also the legality of the notice served by the workers to the management under the Industrial Dispute Act is one factor to be considered for dismissal of services of the workers by the management.
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