Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Monday, Apr 08, 2002
Special tribunal to adjudicate -- Textool asked not to close machinery unit
COIMBATORE, April 6
THE Madras High Court has directed the management of the Coimbatore-based Textool Company Ltd (TCL) not to close down the textile machinery division as proposed effective from March 31. It has also asked the Government to refer the matter to a special tribunal for an early settlement of the dispute. The orders came on a writ petition filed by two workers' unions.
The TCL management had, in December last, sought the approval of the Secretary of Labour, Tamil Nadu, for closure of the textile machinery division (under Section 25 FFA of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947) with effect from March 31.
The management, in its petition, had stated that there was no future scope for running the division because of the stagnation in the textile sector, import of second-hand machinery and surplus available capacity.
The matter was posted for enquiry under Section 25-O of the Industrial Disputes Act. Seven out of the 11 unions raised objections to the closure. Although the matter was heard in February, the orders were reserved. The Labour Secretary did not pass any order under Section 25-O (2) of the Act within the period of 60 days from the date of filing of the application.
On the expiry of the specified period, TCL, on the basis of the `deemed grant' (due to non-passing of orders), issued notices to its workers, terminating their services with effect from March 31.
The Kovai Mavatta Poriyiyal Pothu Thozhilalar Sangham (AITUC) and the Coimbatore District Democratic Engineering General Workers Union approached the court seeking a directive to refer the matter to the Industrial Disputes Tribunal under Section 25-O (5). The writ petition was admitted.
Mr Justice N.V. Balasubramanian of the Madras High Court ordered an independent tribunal for adjudication at the earliest point of time under Section 25-O (5) read with Section 10 of the Act. The Labour Court, Coimbatore, has been ordered to function as a special tribunal.
Considering the nature of the dispute and the volume of evidence that might be produced by both the parties the unions and the management, the tribunal has been directed to pass award within 60 days from the receipt of the reference. It has also been made clear that till the award is passed (within 60 days from the receipt of the reference) by the special tribunal, the intended closure of the TCL's textile division and the notices of termination issued to the members of both the unions would not take effect.
In the event of the special tribunal failing to pass an award within the specified period of 60 days, the order of closure under Section 25-O (3) of the Act would come into effect.
The AITUC-affiliated union, which claims to have a sizable following, opposed the closure move `tooth and nail' stating that it was both `illegal and opposed to the reality of the situation'.
Operations came to a grinding halt at the unit from September 3, 2001. Since then, the workers have been on `special leave'. TCL has not paid the salary arrears due to the workers, as per the 12(3) settlement reached in July last.
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