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The Management of the Bangalore Woollen, Cotton and Silk Mills Co. Ltd. Vs. the Workmen of the Bangalore Woollen, Cotton and Silk Mills Co. Ltd. and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtKarnataka High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWrit Petition No. 276 of 1965
Judge
Reported inAIR1967Kant172; AIR1967Mys172; (1968)ILLJ514Kant
ActsIndustrial Disputes Act, 1947 - Sections 2, 10 and 33A; Constitution of India - Article 226; Indian Trade Unions Act, 1926 - Sections 2
AppellantThe Management of the Bangalore Woollen, Cotton and Silk Mills Co. Ltd.
RespondentThe Workmen of the Bangalore Woollen, Cotton and Silk Mills Co. Ltd. and anr.
Appellant AdvocateT. Krishna Rao, Adv. General, ;C.K. Narayana Rao and ;M.K. Viswanath, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateN. Keshava, Adv.
Excerpt:
.....but conciliation having failed in this behalf, there is no other go for the union than raising the industrial dispute as per the claim of the concerned worker xx xx xxin spite of our representation to the management in this regard, they have categorically refused to concede our request and therefore weregret that we are driven to this alternativeby the management's altitude and are obligedto take this course of action we have noobjection to discuss this matter with you andarrive at a mutual settlement and we expectthat you will respond to our request for discussions at an early date. government of mysore, on 23rd november 1961, which is found at pages 99 to 101 of the paper book, it was represented to the government that the said ramachandran had availed of earned leave, but the..........transferred to it.2. after the disposal of the said writ petition no. 302/58 by this court, the executive committee of the binny mills labour association. bangalore a trade union of the workers of the various mills of the management, hereinafter called the union, passed resolution on 25th february. 1960 authorising its office bearers to demand reinstatement of the said rarnachandran, besides some others. on the basis of the said resolution of the executive committee of the union, its secretary addressed a letter dated february 27, 1960 demanding reinstatement with back wages and all benefits of the said ramachandran. it is necessary to set out relevant portions of the said letter. it reads:'the binny mills labour association,cottanpet.bangalore city,the managing director,binny mills,.....
Judgment:

Govinda Bhat, J.

1. This is a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution, preferred by the Management of the Bangalore Woollen, Cotton and Silk Mills Co., Ltd., Bangalore, hereinafter called the Management, for a writ of Prohibition or such other writ, rule, order or direction, directing the Labour Court Bangalore, not to proceed with the enquiry Ref. No. 41 of 1964 pursuant to the Government's Order No. PLM 376 LLD 62 dated 23rd July, 1964. The material facts stated briefly are:

In June 1956, the Management purporting to act under the provisions of its Standing Order 8(ii), terminated the services of one of its workmen Sri A. Ramachandran for alleged absence without leave. As an industrial dispute between the Management and its workmen was pending before the Industrial Tribunal, Bangalore in I. D. No. 11/55 at the time the said Ramachandran was deemed to have left the Management's service, he filed a complaint under Section 38A of the Industrial Disputes Act (Central Act 14 of 1947) hereinafter called the Act. The said complaint was not disposed of by the Industrial Tribunal for the reason that one of its members was permanently incapacitated, and the Government of Mysore passed an order on 31st May. 1958 transferring the said complaint, along with certain other complaints, to another Industrial Tribunal. The validity of the said order was questioned by the Management before this court in Writ Petition No. 102/58. and this court, by its order dated 28th January 1960. held that the order transferring complaint was not valid and the Tribunal had no jurisdiction to hear that complaint transferred to it.

2. After the disposal of the said Writ Petition No. 302/58 by this court, the Executive Committee of the Binny Mills Labour Association. Bangalore a Trade Union of the Workers of the various mills of the Management, hereinafter called the Union, passed Resolution on 25th February. 1960 authorising its Office bearers to demand reinstatement of the said Rarnachandran, besides some others. On the basis of the said Resolution of the Executive Committee of the Union, its Secretary addressed a letter dated February 27, 1960 demanding reinstatement with back wages and all benefits of the said Ramachandran. It is necessary to set out relevant portions of the said letter. It reads:

'The Binny Mills Labour Association,Cottanpet.

Bangalore City,

The Managing Director,

Binny Mills, Bangalore-2.

Dear Sir,

DEMANDS.

We place the following demands before you for your kind consideration and immediate action as per the decision of the Executive Committee held on 25-2-60:

1. Reinstatement, with back-wages and all benefits of

(a) Sri A. Ramachandran Ex Roving No. 39

(b) Sri Kanan, Ex. Spg. No. and.

(c) Sri Muniswamy, W and W Ex. No. 77

2. Reinstatement of the retired persons who have not reached the superannuation age of 55 years and whose retirement has been forced through the Mill Doctor which is outside the jurisdiction of the agreement.

We request you to kindly lake up the above matters for direct negotiations within a week, failing which the Union will be obliged to seek conciliation in this regard. The Union is obliged to take this course of action on account of the recent order of the High Court quashing the Writ Petition Filed by the Management in respect of Demand No. l(a) and (b). With regard to Demand No l(c). the undersigned tried his best to negotiate with the Management mid arrive- at a mutual and amicable settlement, but conciliation having failed in this behalf, there is no other go for the Union than raising the industrial dispute as per the claim of the concerned worker

xx xx xxIn spite of our representation to the Management in this regard, they have categorically refused to concede our request and therefore weregret that we are driven to this alternativeby the Management's altitude and are obligedto take this course of action We have noobjection to discuss this matter with you andarrive at a mutual settlement and we expectthat you will respond to our request for discussions at an early date.

We hope you will assist us to reach an amicable settlement by considering this case sympathetically and avoid an industrial dispute on this score, in the interests of industrial peace and harmony

Thanking you.

Yours faithfully,

Sd/- D. Venkatesh

Secretary.'

The Government, though in the first instance declined to make a reference, after representation by the Secretary of the Union to the Hon'ble Minister for Law and Labour In refer the case of the said Ramachandran to the Tribunal for adjudication, referred by its Order Ho PLM 376 LLD 62 dated 3rd July 1964. the following point of dispute for adjudication to the Labour Court Bangalore

'Are the Management of Bangalore Woollen. Cotton and Silk Mills Co. Ltd.. Bangalore 2 justified in terminating the services of SriA. Ramachandran, Roving Section, Token No, 36, of the Carding Department? If not, is he entitled to reinstatement with benefits of back wages and continuity of service or to any other relief?'

3. The said reference was registered as Reference No. 41 of 64 and necessary pleadings were filed by the parties. The Management contended, inter alia that, there was no industrial dispute to be adjudicated upon, and consequently, the Labour Court had no jurisdiction to proceed with the enquiry in the mailer. On the said contention, the Labour Court framed the following issue:

'Whether a substantial number of workmen employed in the 2nd party concern have not sponsored the case of the workman Sri Ramachandran for reinstatement and so whether the dispute in question continues to be an individual dispute and not an industrial dispute and as such the reference is incompetent.'

4. The said issue was heard as a preliminary issue and the Labour Court by its order dated 2nd February 1966 held that the dispute was an industrial dispute and consequently it has jurisdiction to proceed with the enquiry. Aggrieved by the said order, the Management has approached this court for relief under Art 226.

5. In order In appreciate the argument of the learned Advocate General. It is necessary to set out the material portion of the order of the Labour Court finding that the Union has taken up the cause of the aggrieved workman Ramachandran, and therefore, the individual dispute has developed into an industrial dispute it rends;

'.....The Executive Committee of the First party Union in its meeting on 25-2-1960 has authorised the office bearers to demand the reinstatement of the workman Ramchandran as per Ex W 5(c) Whether this is sufficient to transform the individual dispute of Ramachandran into an industrial dispute? Ex W 1 is the constitution of the first party union. One of the objects of this union as could be seen from Clauses 5 and 6 is rendering of reliefs to the employees during the period of disputes with the employer and to provide legal assistance to them in respect of matters arising out of or incidental to their employment One of the purposes for winch the general funds of the Union can be used is for protection of any rights of the trade union as such or any rights arising out of the relations out of any member with his employer and to conduct the trade disputes on behalf of any member According to Clause 8, any member of the Union who is entitled in any of the benefits conferred by the Union under its rules may make an application in writing to the Secretary of the Union who shall forthwith place it before the Executive Committee of the Union for its consideration thereupon the Executive Committee shall consider the application and either grant or reject the application. In the event the application is rejected by the Executive Committee, the applicant shall have a right of appeal to the general body of theUnion whose decision shall be binding on the mailer. It is therefore clear from the constitution of the first party Union that any aggrieved workman of the second party company may lodge a complaint against it in writing to the Secretary of the Union and seek for necessary relief and it is the duty of the Secretary to forthwith place it before the Executive Committee of the Union for its consideration and if the Executive Committee thinks it worthwhile to espouse the cause of the workman and passes a resolution to that effect, his further duty is to carry out that decision. In the instant case I must say all that has happened. Apart from the Executive Committee in its meetings on 8-7-1956 and 21-7-1966 considering the question of raising an industrial dispute in regard to the termination of the workman Ramachandran by the second party concern and calling upon the workman to lodge a complaint under Section 33A of the Industrial Disputes Act before the Industrial Tribunal where an industrial dispute between the workmen and the Management of the second party concern, as per Ex. W. 5(a) and (b), it has pursued the matter after the disposal of the writ petition in its meeting on 25-2-1960 and authorless the office bearers to demand the reinstatement of Ramachandran as Ex. W. 5(c). All this has been done in conformity with the provisions of the constitution of the first party Union namely Ex. W. 1. In these circumstances it must be said that the first party Union, which is exclusively the Union of the employees of the second party concern, has taken up the case of the aggrieved workman Sri A. Ramachandran and therefore, his individual dispute has developed into an industrial dispute and so this court is competent to proceed with the reformer. . . .''

6. In this court. the learned Advocate-General, appearing for the Management, urged, that there are about seven thousand workmen employed in the Mills of' the Management; there was no evidence that there was a Resolution of the General Body of the Union or a substantial number of workmen sponsoring or supporting the cause of the said Ramachandran and that the Executive Committee of the Union, as such, cannot represent the General Body of the Workmen in the matter of sponsoring or supporting the cause of the said Ramachandran to make the individual dispute an industrial dispute. It was also urged that the Labour Court was in error in finding that clause VIII (2) of the Constitution of the Union enabled the Union to espouse the cause of the individual workman and convert an individual dispute into an industrial dispute

7. The Labour Court has found on the material placed before it that the Executive Committee of the Union at its meeting held on 25-2-1960 passed a Resolution authorising its office-bearers to demand reinstatement of the said Ramachandran. On the basis of the said Resolution, the Secretary of the Onion by his letter dated February 27. 1960, material portion of which has already been set out demanded reinstatement with back wages of thesaid Ramachandran. The demand, it is clear, was made on behalf of the Union. In the re-presentation made by the same Secretary to the Hon'ble Minister for Law and Labour. Government of Mysore, on 23rd November 1961, which is found at pages 99 to 101 of the Paper Book, it was represented to the Government that the said Ramachandran had availed of earned leave, but the Management subsequently cancelled the same and called upon him to resume duty, and since he failed to turn up, the Management terminated his services and as per terms of the employment regulated by Standing Orders, the Management cannot cancel leave and call upon an employee to resume duty. It further submitted that the entire workmen about seven thousand in number of the Bangalore Woollen, Cotton and Silk Mills Co., Ltd., are interested in the said dispute and they have resolved to go on a strike demanding his reinstatement in the event of the Government refusing to refer the same.

8. It is well settled that before any dispute between an employer and his employees can be said to be an industrial dispute under the Act, it must be sponsored by a substantial number of workmen or by the Union representing the workmen. It is also settled that an individual dispute does not become an industrial dispute at the instance of the aggrieved individual workman and that an individual dispute, which is not an industrial dispute at its inception, may become one, if it is sponsored by the Union of the Workmen or supported by substantial number of workmen. An element of collective bargaining which is the essential features of modern Trade Union Movement, is necessarily involved in industrial adjudication.

9. The question is whether the dispute relating to the termination of services of the said Ramachandran, which at its inception was an individual dispute, has developed into an industrial dispute? It was not disputed by the learned Advocate-General, and rightly in our opinion, that if the resolution of the Executive Committee authorising its office-bearers to demand reinstatement of the said Ramachandran amounts to sponsoring of the cause of the Individual workman by the Union, the individual dispute has developed into an industrial dispute; but what was urged by the learned Advocate-General was. that the definition of the expression 'industrial dispute' in S. 2(k) of the Act makes no reference to the Union and therefore, there must be evidence that a substantial section of the workmen employed in the Mills of the Management have espoused the cause of the individual workman, and that in the absence of evidence of a resolution of the General Body of the Union, it cannot be said that the Union or a substantial section of the workmen have espoused the individual cause. Further it was submitted that the Executive Committee cannot represent the General Body of the workmen in the mailer of sponsoring or supporting the cause of the individual workmen in order to convert an individual dispute into an industrial dispute.

10. In order to fall within the definition of an 'industrial dispute' the dispute must be between the parties specified in the definition in S. 2(k) of the Act and must concern the specified subject matter. The dispute must be between the employers and workmen or between workmen and workmen. Trade Unions as such are not mentioned in the definition of an 'industrial dispute' because they act on behalf of the workmen and therefore, when a Trade Union raises a dispute, the workmen are deemed In be parties to the industrial dispute.

11. How does a Trade Union act? 'A Trade Union cannot act in person. It can act only through agents. Its principal agents are its Executive Committee. In a registered Union, the position of the Executive Committee is roughly analogous to that of the Board of Directors of a limited company: 'vide Trade Union Law and Practice by H. Vaster and A.H. Gardner (1958 Edition) at page 62. Section 2(a) of the Indian Trade Unions Act. 1926 defines the term 'Executive' to mean the body, by whatever name called to which the management of the affairs of a Trade Union is entrusted. Therefore, the Executive of a Trade Union has a right whenever required to raise an industrial dispute unless the constitution of the Union has restricted that right.

12. Clause XI(l) of the Constitution of the Union provides that its affairs shall be managed by its Executive Committee consisting of five office-bearers and 215 Executive Committee members elected by the members of the several departments in the industry There is no express provision limiting the powers of the Executive Committee of the Union except in the matter of declaration of strikes with respect to which there is express provision made in clause XVI of its Constitution that 'save in emergent cases, the Executive Committee shall not call for strike without the previous approval of the general body of the Union

13. Collective bargaining is one of the objects of a Trade Union. One of the objects of the Union as slated in Clause 11(3) of its Constitution is to promote cordial and harmonious relationship between the workman and the Management and to secure redressal of their difficulties and disputes through representations and negotiations and when (sic) -ces-sarv to have recourse to compulsory adjudications. The question raised by the individual dispute of Ramachandran was, whether the Management, under the Standing Orders has power to cancel leave once granted and call upon its employee to resume duty. That is a question in which the entire workmen of the Management are interested. The Union representing the workmen is also interested in the said question. Therefore, the Executive Committee of the Union to which the management of the affairs of the Union is entrusted, passed a resolution on 25th January 1960 authorising its office-bearers to demand reinstatement of the said Ramachandran. On the basis of the said resolution, the matter was taken up by the Secretary of the Union and on his representation made on behalf of the Union, the Government have referred the dispute to the Labour Court. Therefore, in our judgment. the said resolution of the Executive Committee and the action taken thereon, amounts to the Union espousing the cause of the individual workman. The said Ramachandran, and constitution what was an individual dispute at its inception has developed into an industrial dispute. The Labour Court was right in finding that the individual dispute has developed into an industrial dispute and it has jurisdiction to proceed with the enquiry. The reasoning of the Labour Court that clause VIII (2) of the Constitution empowers the Executive Committee of the Union to espouse the cause of an individual workman and convert an individual dispute into an industrial dispute in our opinion is patently erroneous. the said clause only enables a member to apply to the Secretary for any benefit conferred on him by the Union.

14. For the reasons slated above the writ petition fails and is dismissed, but we make no order as to costs Petition dismissed.


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