1. On 9th April, 1973, a notice under Section 9A of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, was issued by the writ petitioner management which is to the following effect :
Notice under Section 9A of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, dated 9th April, 1973.
Revision of work-loads and wages for the workers in bundling department shown below :
S. No. and Name Ticket Designation No. 1. K. Ramachandra 1 Weigher-cwm-Naidu presser2. O. Rangasami 2 PresserNaidu3. S. Balakrishnama 3 Do.Raja4. P. Veerappa Thevar 4 Knotter
The present work-loads in the building department has been in force, since the last 10 to 12 years, whereas the work-loads in all other departments of mills like preparatory, spinning, reeling, etc., have been revised to a large extent.
2. It is absolutely essential that rationalisation is carried out, in the above department, especially when the cost of production has gone very high on account of the high dearness allowance and increased cost of store materials, power, etc.
3. Therefore, it is the intention of the management, to enforce the workload and wages, as mentioned in the statement attached herewith. This proposal is made on the basis of the existing work-loads and wages at the Lakshmi Mills Company Limited, Kovilpatti.
4. The revised work-loads and wages will be brought into effect from 9th May, 1973 :
Statement of work-loads and wages in bundling department-proposal of revisionCount Bundle No. of Bundles required forWeight Knotter Presser WeigherNF 2/17 5 Kgs. 219 329 657NF22/ ' 207 310 620NF26 ' 186 279 558NF27 ' 175 263 526NF 34 ' 171 257 51320S & 2/20S 10 lbs 234 351 70221S to 26S ' 217 326 65230S to 32S ' 198 288 57616S ' 232 348 69618S ' 225 338 6762/24S DHCR ' 232 348 6982/20S DHCR ' 217 326 65260S 5 1bs 288 432 86440S 10 lbs 171 257 514NF 50 & NF 52 5 Kgs. 160 240 480(20 Hank Knots)NF 50 & NF 52 (20 Hank Knots) 2.5 Kgs. 277 360 720Wages For Weigher, Presser & Knotter(Basic wages) (including first wage-board basic wages &extra; allowances) ...Rs. 64-48For Weigher, Presser & Knotter
(Basic wages) (including first wage-board basic wages & extra allowances) Rs. 64-48.
Second wage board (Basic Wage & D.A.) as per agreement Fixed Dearness Allowance Rs. 45-00.
Variable Dearness Allowance : @ 26 paise per point on Madras Cost of Living Index above 340 points.
As it could be seen it would come into effect from 9th May, 1973. When it was agitated before the Additional Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation that there has been a deduction with regard to wages to which the respondents were entitled to, the Commissioner under the impugned order came to the conclusion that the notice under Section 9A (extracted above) is in order as it was issued under Section 9A of the Industrial Disputes Act read with Rule 57. He further held that the matters covered under the notice constituted a fresh contract of service. However, by curious reasoning be went on to hold as follows :
As per Ext. R3 the work-load and wages were revised. However, there is no clause in Ext. R3 authorising the opposite party to deduct wages for giving less production. In such case any deduction from wages must come under the purview of Sections 7 to 13 of the Payment of Wages Act. The deduction from wages for giving lesser production does not come under any of the above sections. Hence the deductions from the wages of the applicants are not authorised deductions.
On this finding, he directed the writ petitioner to pay the ' deductions'. It is to quash this order, the present writ petition has been preferred,
2. The management in attacking the validity of the order rightly contends that if the reasoning Of the Commissioner under the impugned order is accepted the very basis of fixing the workload under Ext. R3 falls to the ground. Moreover, having found that Ext. R3 held the field, the Commissioner erred in holding that they were deductions. The learned Counsel for the workmen would, however, contend that they were turning out the work-load as was prevailing before revision under Ext. R3 and if any amount less than to which they were entitled was paid it would constitute deduction '.
3. On a careful consideration of the above arguments, I am unable to agree with the learned Counsel for the respondent. The deduction itself postulates certain entitlements on behalf of the workmen, whereon the contrary Ext. R3 prescribed a particular work-load which work-load is the basis for the award of wages, for turning out the lesser work-load, which is described under Ext. R3 could not and would not constitute any deduction. As otherwise the very basis for fixing the work load would be defeated. Nor again is it necessary to state that for giving less production there would be deduction of wages because the wages are related to the production as would be obvious from Ext. R3. Therefore, I hold the impugned order is liable to be set aside since it proceeds upon an erroneous basis that Ext. R3 should state that for giving less production there will be corresponding decrease in wages. Accordingly, it is quashed. However, I make it clear that neither by the impugned order nor by my order herein, the workmen are in any way disabled from agitating the validity and the binding nature of Ext. R3 in such separate proceedings as they may choose to agitate.
4. These writ petitions are allowed. No costs.