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Monthly-rated workmen of Peirce Leslie and Co., Ltd. (by CochIn Commercial Employees' Association) Vs. Labour Commissioner and Ors. (17.11.1966 - KERHC) - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtKerala High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1967)ILLJ789Ker
AppellantMonthly-rated workmen of Peirce Leslie and Co., Ltd. (by CochIn Commercial Employees' Association)
RespondentLabour Commissioner and Ors.
Cases ReferredLtd. v. Ganguli
Excerpt:
- - 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. 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 (3) of section 18 of the industrial disputes act, 1947. sub-section (3) 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: please make it convenient to attend the conference without fail......monthly-rated workmen of peirce leslie & co., ltd., cochin, represented by the cochin commercial employees' association, cochin-are the appellants before as. respondent 1 is the labour commissioner and chief conciliation officer, kerala state, trivandrum; respondent 2 is the district labour officer and conciliation officer, alwaye ; respondent 3 is the deputy labour officer and conciliation officer, cochin; and respondent 4 is the general manager of peirce leslie & co., ltd., 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.....
Judgment:

1. The petitioners in Original Petition No. 3107 of 1964-the monthly-rated workmen of Peirce Leslie & Co., Ltd., Cochin, represented by the Cochin Commercial Employees' Association, Cochin-are the appellants before as. Respondent 1 is the Labour Commissioner and Chief Conciliation Officer, Kerala State, Trivandrum; respondent 2 is the District Labour Officer and Conciliation Officer, Alwaye ; respondent 3 is the Deputy Labour Officer and Conciliation Officer, Cochin; and respondent 4 is the general manager of Peirce Leslie & Co., Ltd., 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 28 March 1964. The demands of the Mercantile Employees' Association were made over three weeks earlier, on 2 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 Ex. P. 17 dated 21 November 1964.

5. The question for determination is whether Ex. 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 (3) of Section 18 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. Sub-section (3) 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 date 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 workmen, otherwise than in the course of conciliation proceedings, shall be 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 01. (a) or (6) 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 (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 Ramnagar Cane and Sugar Company, Ltd. v. Jatin Chakravorty 1961-I L.L.J. 244 at 247:

Section 18(1) provides that a settlement arrived at by agreement between the employer and the workmen otherwise than in the course of conciliation proceedings shall be binding on the parties to the agreement ; whereas Section 18(3) provides that a settlement arrived at in the course of conciliation proceedings which has become enforceable shall be binding on all the parties specified in Clauses (a), (6), (c) and (d) of Sub-section (3). Section 18(3)(d) makes it clear that, where a party referred to in Clause (a) or (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, would be bound by the settlement .... In order to bind the workmen it is not necessary to show that the said workmen belong to the union which was a party to the dispute before the conciliator. The whole policy of 8. 18 appears to be to give an extended operation to the settlement arrived at in the course of conciliation proceedings, and that is the object with which the four categories of persons bound by such settlement are specified in Section 18, Sub-section (3).

The reason for the extended operation, apparently, is the fact that the presence and participation of the conciliation officer will ensure a fair and proper settlement. In Bata Shoe Company (Private), Ltd. v. Ganguli (D.N.) and Ors. 1961-I L.L.J. 303 at 308, 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 decision 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 the three of them were parties to Ex. 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 Ex. 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 may do all such things as he 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 authorized 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 Identity of most of the demands made, or as separate because of the independent character of the two trade unions and their different membership, 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. Exhibit P. 14 is a letter from the Labour Commissioner and Chief Conciliation Officer dated 3 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:

[Subject-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 19 October 1964 in my office at Trivandrum. Please make it convenient to attend the conference without fall.

14. Exhibit P. 15 is another letter from the same officer dated 24 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:

[Subject.-Demands of the associations-Bonus, revision of wages, dearness allowance, eta-Dispute in.]

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

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

Peirce Leslie dispute conference proposed 18 cancelled.

16. 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 Ex. P. 17 was evolved and signed.

17. 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.

18. 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.

19. 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 by itself constitute a bar to the consideration and disposal of that petition.


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