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Royal Calcutta Golf Club Vs. Third Industrial Tribunal and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtKolkata High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1960)ILLJ464Cal
AppellantRoyal Calcutta Golf Club
RespondentThird Industrial Tribunal and ors.
Cases ReferredLtd v. D. Macro
- .....staff and bearers of the club.(3) whether the management was justified in discharging the eight female work men named in the order. to what relief were they entitled.2. a subsequent issue, being issue (4) regarding bonus, was added later on, but in this application there is no dispute raised with regard to the findings on that issue and, therefore, i am not called upon to consider the same. each of the findings on these three issues has been challenged in this application. with regard to the issue (1), viz., wages and dearness allowances for all categories of workmen employed by the club, the tribunal noted that the union had adduced no evidence about wages in comparable industries. the club claimed that the wages which were being paid were fair and equitable and compared favourably.....

Sinha, J.

1. The petitioner in this application is the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (hereinafter referred to as the 'club') which is situated, and maintains its golf-course and other facilities for playing golf, in the suburbs of Calcutta. It maintains a club-house and two golf-courses. It is stated that for the maintenance of its golf-courses and for carrying out is objects, it maintains a permanent staff of more than a hundred persons. At all material times, prior to 14 lanuary 1957 the club used to employ eight female labourers being respondents 4 to 11, who worked in the golf-courses in order to maintain them in proper condition. The work consisted principally of removing leaves, weeding the greens, etc. It is in evidence that ever since 1948 the club has been contemplating the abolition of the said system of employing female labour for clearing the golf-courses. The reasons why it wanted to do so appear from the evidence and I shall presently refer to it. It appears that previously there were a number of temporary female labourers doing this kind of work, but by 1957 the number had been reduced to eight. So far as the other workers are concerned, it is stated in the petition that the club is really a week-end club and that it IB not doing very well as in the past and it bad to raise additional funds by Issue of debentures, which it is called upon, from time to time, to repay. It is pointed out that from the year 1957-58 the club has been suffering a loss. By order dated 11 July 1957 a reference was made under 8. 10 of the Industrial Disputes Act, referring an industrial dispute between the club and its workmen represented by the Royal Calcutta Golf Club Mazdoor Union, for adjudication of the third industrial tribunal. The issues referred were as follows:-

(1) Wages and clearness allowances for all categories of workers.

(2) Working hours for kitchen staff and bearers of the club.

(3) Whether the management was justified in discharging the eight female work men named in the order. To what relief were they entitled.

2. A subsequent issue, being issue (4) regarding bonus, was added later on, but in this application there is no dispute raised with regard to the findings on that issue and, therefore, I am not called upon to consider the same. Each of the findings on these three issues has been challenged in this application. With regard to the issue (1), viz., wages and dearness allowances for all categories of workmen employed by the club, the tribunal noted that the union had adduced no evidence about wages in comparable industries. The club claimed that the wages which were being paid were fair and equitable and compared favourably to those of similar clubs. Actually, the club produced an award relating to nine other clubs and the tribunal distinctly finds that in comparison the wages which the club has been paying were not inadequate. The conclusion arrived at is in the following terms:-

In the present case, none except the caddies get total emoluments below Rs. 55. The said sum cannot be considered to be inadequate as minimum having regard to what prevails in other clubs.

3. The tribunal further finds as a fact that the financial position of the club as disclosed was not such as would admit of an increment both in the basic wages and deafness allowance. The tribunal held that no increment was called upon to be made in the basic wages. It, however, decided that an increment should be granted in respect of dearness allowance. It then proceeds to grant an increase of dear-ness allowance with regard to the various classes of employees to the extent of Rs. 3 each per month. In doing so, the tribunal bases its finding on no evidence. In short, there is nothing in the evidence adduced to justify the comment that the increase in the dearness allowances has not been commensurate with the increase in the cost of living. No evidence at all has been adduced about the increase in the cost of living and, therefore, a comparison is impossible. Then again, the tribunal says that there are other sources of income, particularly from the 'greens' which had a possibility of expansion. There is not an iota of evidence on this point. The result is that this increase in the dearness allowance has been allowed arbitrarily, without any material whatsoever, and cannot be supported.

4. Coming now to issue (2), the tribunal has decided the hours of work relating to the various classes of employees. To that extent there is no dispute. But it has gone further and stated that if the employees were asked to do overtime work, then the club will have to pay overtime allowances at a particular rate. No such dispute has been referred to the tribunal. In other words, the tribunal has been called upon to fix the hours of work of the employees and not the overtime allowances by way of compensation that should be paid to them if they work beyond those hours. It is argued that this is only a 'consequential' relief. I am unable to accept this argument. The finding on issue (2), in so far as it deals with compensation to be paid for overtime work, is beyond the scope of the reference and must be struck down.

5. I now come to the issue (3). I have already referred to the nature of the dispute. Coming now to the evidence, I find that Mr. Zachariah, a member of the club, gave evidence on behalf of the club and he said as follows:

The female workers were not permanent workers. They were employed all along on temporary basis. It has always been the intention of the club to replace them by efficient male members. The decision to replace the female workers by male workers was taken sometime in January 1957. The work done by them was handed over to contractors. This was found necessary from the point of view of supervision and also on account of the fact that women workers under the present system of work could not in any way produce the desired efficiency. It la also very difficult and in fact impossible to utilize them in all types of work.

6. This evidence has not been shaken in cross-examination, and there is no evidence adduced by the union to the contrary. The question is whether upon these grounds it was permissible for the club to terminate the employment of these female workers. It comes to this that the club has been finding for a long time that the employment of these female workers became undesirable because the club found it difficult to carry out proper supervision. It was also found that there workers were not efficient like male workers. That is why the work was given to contractors. That the work has been given to contractors is not disputed. Before the employment of the contractors, these female workers were directly under the supervision of the club, but after the contractor has come in, all that the club is concerned with is to keep its courses clean and is no longer bothered with the question of employing or supervising the labour necessary to effect the same. The tribunal simply finds that the work continues and the work is now being done by male labour, and this, in the opinion of the tribunal, was not permissible, and it has ordered that these eight female workers should be reinstated. The position in law seems to be this: Under the common law of master and servant, the master could terminate the employment of the servant without assigning any reason, the only limitation being that it was necessary to give reasonable notice of terminal tion. The Industrial Disputes Act has introduced a considerable restriction on such rights. It IB not possible to dismiss workmen at will. Complicated rales have been laid down for regulating dismissals, retrenchments, lockouts, etc. We are, however, not concerned with the other principles that have been laid down in the said Act. We are only concerned with one principle which has been urged on behalf of the petitioner, viz., as to whether it is open to an employer to terminate the services of an employee as a result of the reorganization of his business, That he can do so has now been authoritatively laid down by the Supreme Court in D, Macropolo & Co. (Private), Ltd v. D. Macro-polo & Co (Private), Ltd., Employees' Union and Ors. 1958-II L.L.J. 492 . In that case, the facts were shortly as follows : Previous to 1946, the firm of Macropolo which carries on business in Calcutta as tobacconists, used to sell through distributors. They had no workmen of their own distributing the goods. In 1946, because of the communal riots, the system had to be changed. They introduced the use of their own outdoor salesmen who distributed the goods to the panwallas and petty dealers. In or about 1954 owing to the slackness of business it was found no longer practicable from the business point of view to continue the company's own outdoor sales department. In other words, the company decided to revert back to the old procedure of selling through distributors. In these altered circumstances, the distributors again appointed their own outdoor salesmen, and the company had no concern with it. It was alleged that this discharge of the outdoor salesmen by the company was against the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act and was Illegal. This contention, however, was not upheld by the Supreme Court. It was held that all employers had the right to reorganize their business, and if such a re-organization become necessary for reasons of economy or convenience, then the simple fact that it led to discharge or some of the employees will not matter, and no inference can be drawn that such discharge was made mala fide. Such discharge was an inevitable, though a very unfortunate, consequence of the reorganization scheme, which the employer acting bona fide was entitled to adopt. I think that the principle established by this decision is quite clear and if applied to the facts of this case supports the action of the club, and the finding of the tribunal must be struck down. The tribunal has simply held that the work continues through male labour and, therefore, there has been a violation of the law. In my opinion, this finding does not logically give rise to any such inference of illegality. A person has the right to reorganize his business in any fashion he likes, for the purpose of economy or convenience, and nobody is entitled to tell him how be should conduct his business. The only limitation is that he should do it bona fide and not for the purpose of victimizing his employees and in order to get rid of their services, which it would otherwise not be permissible. Provided, however, that he acts within these limits, it is not for the Court or the tribunal to tell him how he should conduct his business. In this particular case there is a dispute as to whether this particular change in the employment of female labour resulted in any economic relief to the club. But that is not the only test. There is the test of convenience. The company has definitely stated and adduced evidence to the effect that it found it extremely inconvenient to supervise this kind of labour, and the result was that at various times of the year, they had to sit idle, could not be, diverted into other employment, and altogether became a dead-weight upon the club. If for that reason, the club has reorganized Its system of employment of labour and has brought in a contractor to do the job, I do not see why the principle estabblished above is not made applicable. It has been argued that the economic condition of the club is very good and that it is paying off its debentures sooner than it need have done, and this was done in order to spite the worker. In my opinion, this is an unacceptable argument. There is not a breath of suggestion that the debentures have been raised with any fraudulent intention, or that they are not perfectly bona fide. It would he fantastic to suggest that the club should carry on the burden of its loan and go on increasing the emoluments of the workers, particularly when it has been definitely found that their emoluments were not Inadequate. In my opinion, the findings of the tribunal on this Issue cannot be supported.

7. The result is this that this rule must be made absolute, and the finding of the tribunal with regard to clearness allowance on Issue (1) must be quashed. With regard to issue (2), the finding with regard to overtime payment must be quashed, but the finding as regards the hours of employment will not be affected by this judgment of mine. With regard to issue (3) the finding must be quashed and especially the finding that the respondents 4 to 13 should be reinstated in service. The rule is made absolute to that extent. Interim orders, if any, are vacated. No order as to costs.

8. Let it be recorded that respondents 4, 5 and 10 have already settled the matter with the petitioner.

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