Godrej labour case back to Bombay High Court

Mumbai: In a ding-dong battle going on between Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Company and its 99 contract workers since 1995, the Supreme Court on Friday reverted back the case to the Bombay High Court to decide it expeditiously, preferably within six months.

The workers engaged at low wage through a contractor are agitating for employment in the company on full wages paid to its permanent employees. Making it clear that it has not expressed any opinion on the issues involved and the High Court should decide the writ petitions afresh, the Bench of Justices Abhay Manohar Sapre and Indu Malhotra set aside the judgment passed by the High Court on August 29.

The Bench found mistake in the High Court quoted the Industrial Tribunal”s award instead of the reference and treated its operative portion as reference and rejected the submissions.  The case dates back to 2006 when the labour commissioner had made reference to the industrial tribunal at the instance of the Engineering Workers” Association that the company has to take into its employment 90 persons working through the device of contractor Mazda Services with effect from 30.05.1995 and pay them wages at par with the regular workmen of the company.

The Tribunal answered the reference in favour of the employer in July 2014. The High Court quashed it on a petition by the workers” association and remanded the case back to the tribunal to decide afresh. On 02.03.2017, the Tribunal not only answered in favour of the workers” association but also directed payment of a lump sum of Rs 5 lakh to each workman. The High Court upheld the Tribunal”s award but quashed direction on payment of Rs 5 lakh to each workman. The employer and the contractor came in appeal to the Supreme Court which noticed the error in the High Court and also noted that the Tribunal also travelled beyond the scope of the reference.

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