The Bombay High Court on Wednesday "severely" condemned the City Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) authority for treating its workers in the "most inhumane" manner. The HC slammed the authority for not paying salaries to these workers (gardeners) from January 2020 and compelling them to solely rely on NGOs and social activists, for food.
A bench of Justice Shahrukh Kathawalla has ordered the CIDCO to pay the full earned wages of these workers at the earliest. It has also ordered the authority to provide essential service ID card along with protective equipment like masks, hand gloves, sanitizers etc. to these workers before May 18.
The bench passed the significant order on a plea filed by Maharashtra Kamgar Sanghatana, a union of temporary workers, who were ordered to be made permanent by an Industrial Court in 2017. The CIDCO, is however, yet to implement these orders.
According to these gardeners, they have been attending work continuously even during the pandemic period. However, the authorities have not paid them their earned wages from January onwards. The highlighted their plight on how they are now relying on NGOs for food since they have no money.
Having heard the contentions, Justice Kathawalla said, "CIDCO has not only failed to extend all benefits of permanency with effect from 1st December, 2012 to the concerned workmen, but has also deprived them of their earned wages since January, 2020. Therefore, despite them having worked during the pandemic Covid-19, the CIDCO compelled them to survive on charity i.e. the ration provided by NGOs and social workers."
The CIDCO in its defense claimed that the gardens which were being looked after by these gardeners would be handed over to the Panvel civic body, which is reluctant to take them as its employees. It also argued that as far as the Industrial Court's order is concerned, they are likely to challenge the same in Supreme Court.
"None of the submissions advanced by CIDCO justify the inhuman and callous conduct of non-payment of the earned wages since January to its workers," Justice Kathawalla remarked.
"I think, CIDCO is certainly not entitled to deprive these workers of their monthly wages from January. Making them work even during the pandemic and thereafter not paying them their earned wages for months, thereby compelling them to extend their hands before NGOs and social workers for ration to feed themselves and the members of their families, is certainly a very inhuman act on the part of CIDCO, which deserves severe condemnation," Justice Kathawalla observed.
The bench further noted that despite orders and it pulling up the authority, the CIDCO did not made any positive statement regarding paying salaries to the workers.
Accordingly, Justice Kathawalla ordered the CIDCO to pay the full salaries of these workers at the earliest and provide all protection equipment to them before May 18.