IMPERIAL TOBACCO CO OF INDIA LTD Vs. AUTHORITY APPOINTED
HIGH COURT OF CALCUTTA
IMPERIAL TOBACCO CO. OF INDIA LTD.
AUTHORITY APPOINTED BY THE STATE OF WEST BENGAL UNDER THE PAYMENT OF WAGES ACT
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D.Basu, J. -
(1.) This is an application under Article 227 of the Constitution of India, the applicant being the Imperial Tobacco Company of India, Ltd., and it concerns an application made under Section 15 of the Payment of Wages Act, 1936, by two of their employees, the opposite parties Nos. 2 and 3, before the Authority appointed under that Act, who is the opposite party No. 1. The application was disposed of by the impugned order of the Authority dated 25-2-67, in P. W. A. Cases Nos. 73 and 75 of 1965. The application under Section 15 of the said Act is reproduced at annexure 'A' to the present petition. It was a simple case of alleged deduction from wages and the material averment is as follows:
"The applicant's wages have not been paid for the following wages period (s)..... (give dates)..... 6 hrs. overtime wages from per week 1st January '65 to 15th March '65 (rate of wages Rs. 250/- per month)." The Payment of Wages Authority allowed this application in favour of the employees. His findings may be divided into two parts, half of which, however, was in favour of the employer. He rightly directed himself to the Statutory Rules to 'overtime wages' as contained in. Section 59 of the Factories Act inasmuch as admittedly the workmen concerned were workmen governed by the Factories Act, 1948, Chapter VI of which contains certain Statutory provisions relating to the working hours of adult workmen governed by the Factories Act. The first relevant Section is Section 51 which fixes the maximum weekly hours for every adult worker at fortyeight hours per week. The question of overtime or extra wages for working beyond fortyeight hours dealt with'in Section 59(1) thereof is relevant:
"Where a worker works in a factory for more than nine hours in any day or for more than fortyeight hours in any week, he shall, in respect of overtime work, be entitled to wages at the rate of twice his ordinary rate of wages."
(2.) Now, in the first part of his order the Authority held that Section 59 of the Act did not entitle these employees to any overtime wages inasmuch as they did not, in the instant case, allege that they had been asked to work for more than fortyeight hours in a week. Had he stopped here the order of the Authority would have been entirely in favour of the employers and against the applicants before him, but in the second part of his order the authority stated that it had been established before him that prior to the transfer of these employees from the General Section to Accounts Section of the Factory, these employees had actually been working not more than fortytwo hours and because in the Accounts Section working hours were at the rate of fortyeight hours per week they had actually rendered six hours extra per week of work as compared with the number of working hours they used to render prior to their transfer in the Accounts Section He, therefore, concluded that the usage prior to the transfer to the Accounts Section would constitute the normal working hours of these employees and that since they had rendered more than that after their transfer to the Accounts Section they should get "extra remuneration if the working hour is increased." Two of his observations must be noted: Firstly, he says, "Section 51 of the Factories Act authorises an employer to fix the working hours at 48 hours per week, but that does not give the employer a right to alter the service condition of the employee, to the latter's disadvantage." The second one is, "in this case the applicants were employed for doing 42 hours work in a week and accordingly their wages were fixed up. Now if the company decides to get 48 hours work from them their remuneration must increase proportionately."
(3.) On behalf of the management it is urged that the conclusion of the Authority upon which the impugned order is based is without jurisdiction, being outside the purview of Section 15 of the Payment of Wages Act, 1936, upon which the jurisdiction of the Statutory Authority is founded.;
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