'Transfer Clause Does Not Give Firm Right To Move Employee’: Industrial Court Observes

'Transfer Clause Does Not Give Firm Right To Move Employee’: Industrial Court Observes

The company had transferred driver working in Mumbai to Visakhapatnam after he undertook union activities.

Bhavna UchilUpdated: Sunday, June 11, 2023, 10:29 PM IST
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An industrial court has held the act of a private security company as ‘unfair labour practice’ under law for transferring a driver working in Mumbai to Visakhapatnam and held that merely having a transfer clause in the appointment letter does not give the company right to transfer the concerned employee out of state.

The driver had undertaken union activities and had alleged that the act was harassment to break worker unity.

Mali complained through union, complained of workers being harassed

The employees of SR Security Pvt Ltd had formed a union due to alleged poor service conditions such as long working hours. Digambar Mali had claimed in his complaint through the union that after the formation of the union, workers were being harassed in different ways.

He was issued a transfer order to Visakhapatnam. Mali alleged this was done to victimise him and break the unity of the workers as well as to create an atmosphere of terror among them.

Along with him, another colleague had also been transferred. The company had informed the employees that if they failed to report at the new locations, they could face immediate termination. Mali had said in his petition before the court that he has small children and old parents in Mumbai and needs to look after them.

Mgmt to decide how to distribute manpower: Company to court

The company had stated before the court that it is for the management to decide how best to distribute its manpower depending on its business interests and that at the time of appointment, employees are informed that their services are transferable.

Industrial Court Member SR Thube said in the judgment that the court did not find any branch of the company in Visakhapatnam. It also noted that being a driver, Mali is a Class III position and in government service, normally their services are not transferable out of the region.

No need to transfer Mali: Court

Judge Thube said that the company failed to understand that Mali will have language difficulty and as far as his job as driver is concerned, the company can engage a driver locally. It added that there is no need to transfer him. The court observed that the company had not thought over it but simply issued a transfer order. It also noted that the act “indicates a different intention” considering that the company does not have a branch office in Visakhapatnam nor a client office there.

The order directed the company to “cease and desist” unfair labour practice. The court also quashed the transfer order and directed that the driver be allowed to resume his duty in Mumbai.

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