(1.)IN this writ petition on behalf of the petitioner, Mr. M. U. Isaac, learned counsel, challenges the order Ext. P-5 passed by the authority under the Payment of Wages act, (Central Act No. IV of 1936), as also the order of the learned District Judge, alleppey, Ext. P-6, confirming the order Ext. P-5.
(2.)THE petitioner was a private incorporated company, and it is seen that it has since been wound up by order of Court dated 17-11-1960. The said company was engaged in the manufacture of carpets and other coir products, intended for export out of India. According to the petitioner, due to failure of the foreign market and want of orders for its products, the company became unable to carry on its business by the beginning of 1960; and inasmuch as the company had a largo number of workers and a fairly big staff, it became impossible to maintain them without being able to give them work. In view of these circumstances, the management put up a notice, Ext. P-1 dated 944960. It is seen that the management under Ext. P-1 has stated that in view of the then difficult situation, the management finds it difficult to run the factory without reorganisation; and therefore the office and the factory will remain closed for a period of six weeks with effect from 11th April 1960. It is also mentioned in the said notice that the layoff scheme then in operation in the factory will stand suspended from the last settlement unit, ending 12th March 1960. It is also stated that the said period of stoppage of work will not constitute a break in the service. It is also mentioned that negotiations with the concerned unions will continue during the period and that the management expects that a workable solution will be arrived at very soon. That notice was put up by the management, as mentioned earlier, on 94-1960, and copies of the same appear to have been sent to the District Labour Officer, Alleppey, the General Secretary, kerala Coir, Factory Staff Association, Alleppey, the President, Coir Labour Union, shertallai and also the General Secretary, Shertallai Taluk Coir Factory Employees union, Aroor. 2a. We are now concerned in this writ petition only with the Kerala Coir Factory staff Association, Alleppey, because there is no controversy that respondents 1 to 13 who approached the Payment of Wages Authority under Section 15 (2) of the act for relief, were members of the staff of the management, at the material time. I will also indicate that they were parties through their Association to the conciliation agreement, evidenced by Ext. P-2.
(3.)I have already indicated that copy of the notice Ext. P-l was sent to the District labour Officer Alleppey. Under Ext. P-2 it is seen that 3 memorandum of settlement has been signed. A perusal of Ext. P-2 will show that the management was represented by Shri V. V. Job, and the workmen were represented by Messrs. K. C. Eapen and A. Subramaniam representing the Kerala Coir Factory Association. Ext. P-2 states that a dispute has arisen between the Aroor Carpet Factories Ltd. , and their workmen, represented by (a) the Shertallai Taluk Coir Factory employees Union, (b) the Coir Labour Union, and (c) the Kerala Coir Factory Staff association. The subject of the dispute is also stated to be the closure of the establishment. It is also stated that due to the persistent loss and financial difficulties, in which the establishment has landed, due to the paucity of orders, the work in the establishment came to a standstill. A conference that appears to have been held by the Labour Commissioner on 6-5-1960 when the whole position was discussed, is also referred to. It is also noted that one of the Unions, namely the Shertallai Taluk Coir Factory Employees Union, was not prepared to accept the conciliation agreement, on the ground that it could not agree to the closure of the establishment then effected by the management, as it is of the view that it was possible to find employment in the near future. But Ext. P-2 clearly states that the Coir Labour Union and the Staff Association, with which we are now concerned have felt that they could not wait for the off chance of the opening of the factory and that they would be prepared to accept the closure and receive compensation. The terms of the settlement indicated therein, were also arrived at between the management on the one hand, and the staff Association and the Labour Union on the other. The terms of settlement were also mentioned in Ext. P-2, which are to the effect, namely (1) the management agree to pay compensation to the workers and staff at the rate of ten days' total earnings per year for a maximum period of 20 years, (2) the payment of this compensation amount will be made within six months from the date of the agreement, (3) All the arrears due to the workers accepting the retrenchment, will be paid within two months. Ext. P-2 is dated 5-5-1960, and the conciliation conference itself appears to have taken place, as mentioned therein, on the same date. This agreement is signed by a representative of the employer, viz. , Shri V. V. Job, and by two representatives of the workmen, namely Shri K. C. Eappen and shri A. Subramaniam, as also by the conciliation officer, (Labour Commissioner ).