M. Anantanarayanan, C.J.
(1) This appeal, which is sought to be instituted by the management of a coffee hotel at Kumbakonam involves what is really an issue of fact, viz, whether the free food and tiffin that has been supplied to the workers, by this establishment, throughout, can be taken into the computation of 'wages' within the meaning of S. 2(rr) of the Industrial Disputes Act, XIV of 1947, Section 2(rr) defines 'wages' as
'all remunerations capable of being expressed in terms of money. Which would, if the terms of employment, express or implied, were fulfilled, be payable to a workman in respect of his employment......'
As the learned Judge (Kailasam J.) has pointed out, the only issue is whether the free food and tiffin that has been supplied by the employer consistently to his employees in this hotel, would properly from part of 'wages' as defined. It appears to us that this is primarily a question of fact, for everything would depend on the circumstances. There may be a situation in which an employer is paying the full complement of wages to his employees, and is also giving free food and tiffin during hours of work, merely a matter of concession or grace. In such a situation it could perhaps be argued that though the costs of the food and tiffin can be definitely calculated and, in that sense, the supply is certainly capable of being expressed in terms of cash, this does not from part of 'wages' because it is no part of the contract.
(2) But, in the present case, the Tribunal has definitely found that the cash wages of each worker are small, below the average, and that the prevalence of such a level can only be explained on the basis that the food and tiffin supplied is also to be reckoned with as part of the contract. The Tribunal remarks:
'The worker has to work and because he was working he has promised and given free food and tiffin. In my view, the very fact that for earned leave period he was given cash value of food,...... is itself an indicator that it was accepted by all parties that supply of food was remuneration which was payable on terms under which the workers were employed.'
(3) The finding on this issue of fact being so specific and unambiguous, we have no doubt whatever that the learned Judge (Kailasam J.) was justified in holding that the cost or cash value of this supply formed part of the 'wages' as defined in the Act, under the circumstances of this particular case. The writ appeal has no merits and is dismissed.
(4) Appeal dismissed.