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Burn and Co. Ltd. and ors. Vs. their Employees - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtSupreme Court of India
Decided On
Judge
Reported inAIR1960SC896; [1960(1)FLR245]; (1960)IILLJ261SC; [1960]3SCR423
ActsLabour Law; Labour and Industrial Law
AppellantBurn and Co. Ltd. and ors.
Respondenttheir Employees
Cases ReferredMessrs.Titaghur Paper Mills Co. Limited v. Their Workmen
Excerpt:
labour and industrial - incentive bonus - company had introduced a scheme of incentive bonus to its workmen - no reason why it should not be extended to clerical and subordinate staff - appeal dismissed - [p.b. gajendragadkar, c.j.,; k.n. wanchoo,; n. rajagopala ayyangar,; j.c. shah, jj.] the appellant and his mother (the lessors), granted a lease of an open site in the town of coimbatore to abirama chettiar under a registered 'deed dated september 19,1934. the annual rent stipulated under the lease was rs. 10,80 and the period of the lease was 20 years. the term under the lease was that the land was to be utilised for constructing buildings thereon for "purposes of cinema. drama etc." it was further agreed between the parties that at the end of the term the lessee would demolish the..........rates and conditions forthe same. 4. the main contention of the company before us is that as the clericalstaff and the subordinate staff have no part in actual production they shouldnot be given any incentive bonus, particularly as their work does not increaseat all because of the increased production. it is, however, difficult to acceptthat there will be increase in the work of the clerical staff in particular andalso of the subordinate staff because of higher production, though it may beaccepted that the increase may not be in proportion to the increase ofproduction. it is also true that the clerical staff and the subordinate staffdo not directly produce goods like manual workers and that may be a reason fortreating them somewhat differently in the matter of incentive bonus and that.....
Judgment:

Wanchoo, J.

1. These are two appeals by special leave against the same award of theThird Industrial Tribunal, West Bengal, and shall be disposed of by thisjudgment. Appeal No. 195 is by Messrs. Burn and Co. Limited (hereinafter calledthe company) and Appeal No. 196 is by the workmen of Messrs. Burn and Co.Limited (hereinafter called the workmen). There were disputes between thecompany and the workmen on various matters, which were referred to the tribunalfor adjudication. Of these disputes, only two now survive in the two appeals.The company's appeal is with respect to that part of the award which deals withincentive bonus to the clerical and subordinate staff while the workmen'sappeal is with respect to that part of the award which deals with the cashbenefit of eight Annas eight per head per working day for the period thecanteen was not in operation.

2. We shall first take up the company's appeal. The company has introducedincentive bonus for manual workers including Sarkars and Checkers but there isno provision for incentive bonus to the clerical and subordinate staff. Theworkmen therefore claimed that these two categories should also be givenincentive bonus like the manual workers and pointed out that in other concernsthis was done. The company resisted the claim on two grounds : (i) that theclerical staff got what is known as the Bengal Chamber of Commerce dearnessallowance, which is higher than the dearness allowance paid to the manualworkers and (ii) that the clerical staff and the subordinate staff do notactually produce anything and if they are given incentive bonus it will meanthat they would be paid on the production of others, namely, the manualworkers.

3. The tribunal was of the view that the fact that the clerks got the BengalChamber of Commerce dearness allowance was no reason for their total exclusionfrom the benefit of the incentive bonus scheme. It also pointed out that thesubordinate staff did not get the Bengal Chamber of Commerce dearness allowanceand there was no difference between their dearness allowance and the dearnessallowance of the manual workers. Further the tribunal was conscious of the factthat the clerical staff and the subordinate staff do not directly produce goodsbut that in its opinion was no justification for their total exclusion,particularly when other comparable concerns like the Indian Iron and Steel Co.Ltd. at Burnpur, Bridge and Roof Co. (India) Limited, Howrah, and Tatas werepaying incentive bonus to the clerical and subordinate staff also. It thereforeordered that the company should extend the scheme of incentive bonus to theclerical and subordinate staff also and lay down the rates and conditions forthe same.

4. The main contention of the company before us is that as the clericalstaff and the subordinate staff have no part in actual production they shouldnot be given any incentive bonus, particularly as their work does not increaseat all because of the increased production. It is, however, difficult to acceptthat there will be increase in the work of the clerical staff in particular andalso of the subordinate staff because of higher production, though it may beaccepted that the increase may not be in proportion to the increase ofproduction. It is also true that the clerical staff and the subordinate staffdo not directly produce goods like manual workers and that may be a reason fortreating them somewhat differently in the matter of incentive bonus and that iswhat the tribunal seems to have done, for it has directed the company to extendthe scheme of incentive bonus to the clerical and subordinate staff and to laydown the rates and conditions of the same and has not said that exactly thesame rates and conditions should apply to the clerical and subordinate staff asapply to the manual workers. But there can be no doubt that economicallyspeaking the clerical staff and the subordinate staff also take part in theproduction and there is no reason therefore for excluding them altogether fromthe scheme of incentive bonus. Besides, as the tribunal has pointed out, inother comparable concerns incentive bonus is being paid to the clerical and subordinatestaff. The fact that dearness allowance was paid to the clerical staff at ahigher scale is also, in our opinion, no reason for depriving them altogetherof the benefits of the incentive bonus scheme.

5. It is also urged on behalf of the company that the introduction ofincentive bonus is a management function and the tribunal should not impose iton the management and reference in this connection has been made to Messrs.Titaghur Paper Mills Co. Limited v. Their Workmen (1959) Supp. 2 S.C.R. 1012In the present case, however, the incentive bonus scheme has already beenintroduced by the company for the major part of its workmen and all that is nowasked for is that the benefit of the scheme should be extended to the remainderof the workmen. This prayer is, in our opinion, very different from asking atribunal to impose an incentive bonus scheme for the first time in a concern.We can see no reason why where an incentive bonus is in force in a concern forthe majority of its workmen, the tribunal should not be able to extend the sameto the remainder of the workmen.

6. We therefore see no reason to interfere with the order of the tribunal inthis behalf.

7. Turning now to the appeal of the workmen with respect of eight annastiffin allowance during the period the canteen was not working, it is enough tosay that this matter was examined at length by the tribunal. It has dealt withthe history relating to this tiffin allowance and exhaustively considered allthe points raised on behalf of the workmen. Nothing has been brought to ournotice which would induce us to interfere with the considered order of thetribunal in this behalf. All the points that Sri Chatterjee has raised onbehalf of the workmen have been dealt with by the tribunal and the conclusionit has reached is that having regard to the circumstances, the workmen were noteligible to the tiffin allowance of annas eight per head per working day. Allthat we need says is that the correspondence between the workmen and thecompany shows that though the workmen were keen on the provision of a canteenbefore the tiffin allowance was granted by the award dated July 24, 1953, theirkeenness disappeared after the award. The company seems to have taken stepseven before the award to start a canteen and pursued the matter vigorouslyafter the award; but the workmen started objecting to the arrangements made andsome of the objections were fantastic. It seems that having been given thetiffin allowance they preferred to have it rather than go to the canteen. Inthe circumstances we are of opinion that the conclusion of the tribunal iscorrect and there is no reason for interference.

8. The appeals are hereby dismissed, but in the circumstances we pass noorder as to costs.

9. Appeals dismissed.


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