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Monthly-rated Workmen of Pierce Leslie and Co. Ltd., CochIn Vs. Labour Commissioner and Chief Conciliation Officer, Kerala State, Trivandrum and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtKerala High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWrit Appeal No. 347 of 1965
Judge
Reported inAIR1967Ker245
ActsIndustrial Disputes Act, 1947 - Sections 2, 12 and 18
AppellantMonthly-rated Workmen of Pierce Leslie and Co. Ltd., Cochin
RespondentLabour Commissioner and Chief Conciliation Officer, Kerala State, Trivandrum and ors.
Appellant Advocate V.K.K. Menon, Adv.
Respondent Advocate Govt. Pleader (for Nos. 2 and 3) and P.K. Kurien, Adv. (for No. 4)
DispositionAppeal dismissed
Cases ReferredIn Bata Shoe Co. (Private) Ltd. v. D.N. Ganguli
Excerpt:
.....disputes act, 1947 - whether settlement reached by company and workmen represented by mercantile employees association binding on monthly rated workmen - alleged infirmity regard to settlement that concerned three disputants not parties to that document or to conciliation proceedings which culminated in made settlement - admitted that association neither invited nor permitted to be present at conference table at which settlement embodied and signed - held, settlement not binding upon monthly rated workmen. - - 2. certain demands--mostly identical in character were raised by the cochin commercial employees' association, cochin, as well as by the mercantile employees' association, calicut, in respect of the monthly rated workmen of the company. the settlement is embodied in ext..........unions registered under the indian trade unions act, 1926.3. the demands of the cochin commercial employees association were made on the 28th march, 1964 the demands of the mercantile employees' association were made over three weeks earlier on the 2nd march. 1964.4. a settlement was arrived at between the company and the workmen represented by the mercantile employees' association in the course of conciliation proceedings. the settlement is embodied in ext p-17, dated the 21st november, 1964.5. the question for determination is whether ext p-17 is binding on the monthly rated workmen of the company represented by the cochin commercial employees' association as well in view of sub-section (8) of section 18 of the industrial disputes act, 1947 subsection (8) of section 18 says that a.....
Judgment:

1. The petitioners in O. P. No. 3107 of 1964--the monthly rated workmen of Messrs Pierce Leslie end Company Limited Cochin, represented by Cochin Commercial Employees' Association, Cochin--are the appellants before us. The first respondent is the Labour Commissioner and Chief Conciliation Officer, Kerala State, Trivandrum, the second is the District Labour Officer and Conciliation Officer. Alwaye, the third is the Deputy Labour Officer and Conciliation Officer, Cochin, and the fourth is the General Manager of Pierce Leslie and Company Limited, Cochin.

2. Certain demands--mostly identical in character were raised by the Cochin Commercial Employees' Association, Cochin, as well as by the Mercantile Employees' Association, Calicut, in respect of the monthly rated workmen of the company. Both the associations are trade unions registered under the Indian Trade Unions Act, 1926.

3. The demands of the Cochin Commercial Employees Association were made on the 28th March, 1964 The demands of the Mercantile Employees' Association were made over three weeks earlier on the 2nd March. 1964.

4. A settlement was arrived at between the company and the workmen represented by the Mercantile Employees' Association in the course of conciliation proceedings. The settlement is embodied in Ext P-17, dated the 21st November, 1964.

5. The question for determination is whether Ext P-17 is binding on the monthly rated workmen of the company represented by the Cochin Commercial Employees' Association as well in view of Sub-section (8) of Section 18 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 Subsection (8) of Section 18 says that a settlement arrived at in the course of conciliation proceedings under that Act is binding not only on all parties to the industrial dispute but also on 'all persons who were employed in the establishment or part of the establishment, as the case may be to which the dispute relates on the dale of the dispute and all persons who subsequently become employed in that establishment or part'

6. Sub-section (1) of Section 18 provides that a settlement arrived at by agreement between an employer and his workman, otherwise than in the course of conciliation proceeding, shall he binding on the parties to the agreement. The full text of Sub-section (3) of that section is as follows:

''A settlement arrived at in the course of conciliation proceedings under this Act or an arbitration award in a case where a notification has been issued under Sub-section (3A) of Section 10A or an award of a Labour Court, Tribunal or National Tribunal which has become enforceable shall be binding on -

(a) all parties to the industrial dispute;

(b) all other parties summoned to appear in the proceedings as parties to the dispute, unless the Board, the arbitrator, the Labour Court. Tribunal or National Tribunal, as the case may be records the opinion that they were so summoned without proper cause;

(c) where a party referred to in Clause (a) or Clause (b) is an employer, his heirs, successors or assigns in respect of the establishment to which the dispute relates;

(d) where a party referred to in Clause (a) or Clause (b) is composed of workmen, all persons who were employed in the establishment or part of the establishment, as the case may be, to which the dispute relates on the date of the dispute and all persons who subsequently become employed in that establishment or part.'

7. The Supreme Court dealt with the difference between Sub-sections (1) and (3) of Section 18 as follows in Ranmagar Cane and Sugar Co. Ltd. v. Jatin Chakravorty, (1961) 1 Lab LJ 244 = (AIR 1960 SC 1012):

'Section 18(1) provides that a settlementarrived at by agreement between the employerand the workmen otherwise than in the courseof conciliation proceedings shall be binding onthe parties to the agreement; whereasSection 18(3) provides that a settlement arrived atin the course of conciliation proceedings whichhas become enforceable shall be binding on allthe parties specified in Clauses (a), (b), (c) and(d) of Sub-section (3). Section 18(3)(d) makes it clear that, where a party referred to inClause (a) or (b) is composed of workmen, allpersons who were employed in the establishment or part of the establishment, as the case may be, to which the dispute relates on thedate of the dispute and all persons who subsequently become employed in that establishment or part, would be bound by the settlement. In order to bind the workmen itii not necessary to show that the said workmen belong to the union which was a party tothe dispute before the conciliator The wholepolicy of Section 18 appears to be to give an extended operation to the settlement arrived atin the course of conciliation proceedings, andthat is the object with which the four categories of persons bound by such settlement arespecified in Section 18, Sub-section (3).'

The reason for the extended operation, apparently is the fart that the presence and participation of the conciliation officer will ensure a fair and proper settlement In Bata Shoe Co. (Private) Ltd. v. D.N. Ganguli, (1961) 1 Lab LJ 303=(AIR 1961 SC 1158), the Supreme Court said:

'As we read this provision--Section 18--we feel that the legislature when it made a settlement reached during the course of conciliation proceedings binding not only on the parties thereto but also on all present and future workmen intended that such settlement was arrived at with the assistance of the conciliation officer and was considered by him to be reasonable and therefore had his concurrence.'

8. There can be no doubt, in the light of the wording of Section 18 and the decisions of the Supreme Court mentioned above, that a settlement arrived at in the course of conciliation proceedings has an extended operation beyond the parties to that settlement.

But that does not mean that any agreement arrived at in the course of conciliation proceedings without the concurrence of all the disputants is a settlement as contemplated by that section The very word 'settlement' will postulate such a concurrence.

9. In the present case the disputants were the company on the one hand and the monthly rated workmen represented by the Cochin Commercial Employees' Association and the monthly rated workmen represented by the Mercantile Employees' Association on the other. If all three of them were parties to Ext. P-17, then the settlement would have been binding as one arrived at in conciliation proceedings not only on the three of them but also on those indicated in Sub-sections (3)(c) and (3)(d) of Section 18 of the Act. The infirmity as regards Ext. P-17 is that all the three disputants were not parties either to that document or to the conciliation proceedings which culminated in that document

10. Section 12 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, deals with the duties of conciliation officers Sub-section (2) of that section provides.

'The conciliation officer shall, for the purpose of bringing about a settlement of the dispute, without delay investigate the dispute and all matters affecting the merits and the right settlement thereof and do all such things as be thinks fit for the purpose of inducing the parties to come to a fair and amicable settlement of the dispute.':

and Sub-section (3):

'If a settlement of the dispute or of any of the matters in dispute is arrived at in the course of the conciliation proceedings the conciliation officer shall send a report thereof to the appropriate Government or an officer authorised in this behalf by the appropriate Government together with a memorandum of the settlement signed by the parties to the dispute '

11. The Indian Trade Unions Act, 1926, permits more than one association of workmen in the same establishment and does not endow any one of those associations with a monopoly of the right of representation on the basis of superior strength of its membership or for any other reason. There can be no doubt, therefore that both the Cochin Commercial Employees' Association and the Mercantile Employees' Association can co-exist and agitate separately or together on behalf of their respective membership

12. Whether we consider the dispute raised by the Cochin Commercial Employees' Association and the Mercantile Employees' Association as one in view of the identify of most of the demands made: or as separate because of the independent character of the two trade unions and their different member ship: it seems to be clear that both the associations should have been permitted to participate in the conciliation proceedings under Section 12 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 And this is apparently the basis on which the Labour Commissioner and Chief Conciliation Officer proceeded in the beginning.

13. Ext. P-14 is a letter from the Labour Commissioner and Chief Conciliation Officer, dated the 3rd October, 1964. It refers to the demands made by both the associations and is addressed to both of them and the manager of the company at Cochin It reads as follows:---

'Sub: Demands of the Associations--Bonus, revision of wages, dearness allowance, etc. dispute in-

I propose to hold a conference of the parties to the above dispute at 10 a.m. on 19th October, 1964, in my office at Trivandrum. Please make it convenient to attend the conference without fail.'

Ext. P-15 is another letter from the same officer, dated the 24th October, 1964. That letter also refers to the demands made by both the associations and is addressed to both of them and the manager of the company at Cochin. It reads as follows:--

'Sub:- Demands of the Associations--Bonus, revision of wages dearness allowance, etc.--dispute in-

I propose to hold a conference of the parties to the above dispute at 10 a.m. on 18-11-1964 in the District Labour Office, Alwaye, Please make it convenient to attend the conference without fail. '

14. Ext. P-16 is a telegram, dated the 15th November, 1964, from the Labour Commissioner and Chief Conciliation Officer to the Cochin Commercial Employees' Association It is in the following terms:

'Pierce Leslie Dispute Conference Proposed 18th Cancelled '

15. There was no further communication from the Labour Commissioner and Chief Conciliation Officer to the Cochin Commercial Employees' Association. It is admitted that that association was neither invited nor permitted to be present at the conference table at which the settlement embodied in Ext P-17 was evolved and signed.

16. In these circumstances it may be difficult to say that the settlement is a settlement in the course of conciliation proceedings conducted in accordance with the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. We can decide the question however, only in the presence of the Mercantile Employees' Association. That association has not been made a party either in the original petition from which this appeal arises or in this appeal before us.

17. It must follow that this Writ Appeal should be dismissed and we do so. In the circumstances of the case, however, there will be no order as to costs

18. The question whether a fresh petition, with all the necessary parties impleaded, can or should be entertained is not a matter for present determination We make it clear, however, that if and when such a petition is filed, the dismissal of this appeal will not byitself constitute a bar to the consideration anddisposal of that petition.


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