NORTH BROOK JUTE CO LIMITED Vs. THEIR WORKMEN
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
NORTH BROOK JUTE COMPANY LIMITED
Referred Judgements :-
KEMP AND CO LTD V. THEIR WORKMEN:
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(1.)On December 13, 1957, the Government of West Bengal referred under S. 10 of the Industrial Disputes Act the following dispute between M/s. Northbrook Jute Co., Ltd., and Dalhousie Jute Mills who are appellants before us and their workmen :
"Do the proposals of rationalisation in the above two mills involve any increase in workload If so, what relief the workmen are entitled to -
(2.)Almost a month before this the proposal of introducing a rationalisation scheme in the mills of these companies had been considered at an extraordinary meeting of the Works Committee and the Committee had agreed to the proposal. A notice under S. 9 the Industrial Disputes Act was then given by the companies to the Unions of their workmen and it was because the workmen objected to the introduction of the rationalisation scheme that the dispute arose and was referred by the Government to the Tribunal. On December 16 when the above reference was pending before the Tribunal the management of these mills put the rationalisation scheme into operation but the workmen refused to do the additional work placed on them by the scheme. Later the same day the mills declared a lock-out. Work was however resumed again in all departments excepting the weaving and finishing departments on December 20, and in these two departments on December 21, as a result of a settlement arrived at between the workmen represented by their Unions and the Mills as regards the introduction of the rationalisation scheme. But a dispute arose as regards the payment of wages to workmen for their dues during the period when the mills were closed, viz., 16th December to 20th December in the weaving and finishing departments and 16th December to 19th December in all other departments. This dispute was also referred to the Tribunal by an order of the Government dated February 1, 1958. The earlier issue as regards the proposed introduction of the rationalisation scheme was also amended in view of what had happened in the meantime by substituting therefor :
"Have the rationalisation effected in the above two mills since 16th December, 1957, involved any increase in the workload To what relief the workers are entitled to -
We are no longer concerned with this issue as the decision of the Tribunal thereon which is against the workmen is no longer disputed. As regards the other two disputes the Tribunal has made an award in favour of the workmen that they are entitled to wages for the period of absence above-mentioned.
(3.)On this question the workmen's case before the Tribunal was that the reason that workmen could not do any work on the days in question was the illegal lock-out by the employers; the employer's case was that the workmen had struck work illegally, and so, the closure of the mills on the 16th of December after such strike was not illegal or unjustified. The Tribunal was of opinion that the employers' attempt to put the rationalisation scheme into effect on the 16th December was a contravention of S. 33 of the Industrial Disputes Act, and so, the workmen's refusal to work in accordance with that scheme was not an illegal strike and the employer's closure of the mills was illegal.
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