BURN AND CO LIMITED HOWRAH IRON WORKS Vs. THEIR EMPLOYEES
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA (FROM: CALCUTTA)
BURN AND COMPANY LIMITED
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(1.), J.: These are two appeals by special leave against the same award of the Third Industrial Tribunal, West Bengal and shall be disposed of by this judgment. Appeal No. 195 is by Messrs. Burn and Company Limited (hereinafter called the company) and Appeal No. 196 is by the workmen of Messrs. Burn and Company Limited (hereinafter called the workmen). There were disputes between the company and the workmen on various matters, which were referred to the tribunal for adjudication. Of these disputes, only two now survive in the two appeals. The company's appeal is with respect to that part of the award which deals with incentive bonus to the clerical and subordinate staff while the workmen's appeal is with respect to that part of the award which deals with the cash benefit of Annas eight per head per working day for the period the canteen was not in operation.
(2.)WE shall first take up the company's appeal. The company has introduced incentive bonus for manual workers including Sarkars and checkers but there is no provision for incentive bonus to the clerical and subordinate staff. The workmen therefore claimed that these two categories should also be given incentive bonus like the manual workers and pointed out that in other concerns this was done. The company resisted the claim on two grounds (i) that the clerical staff got what is known as the Bengal Chamber of Commerce dearness allowance, which is higher than the dearness allowance paid to the manual workers and (ii) that the clerical staff and the subordinate staff do not actually produce anything and if they are given incentive bonus it will mean that they would be paid on the production of others, namely, the manual workers.
The tribunal was of the view that the face that the clerks got the Bengal Chamber of Commerce dearness allowance was no reason for their total exclusion from the benefit of the incentive bonus scheme. It also pointed out that the subordinate staff did not get the Bengal Chamber of Commerce dearness allowance and there was no difference between their dearness allowance and the dearness allowance of the manual workers. Further the tribunal was conscious of the fact that the clerical staff and the subordinate staff do not directly produce goods but that in its opinion was no justification for their total exclusion, particularly when other comparable concerns like the Indian Iron and Steel Company Limited at Burnpur, Bridge and Roof Company (India) Limited, Howrah and Tatas were paying incentive bonus to the clerical and subordinate staff also. It therefore ordered that the company should extend the scheme of incentive bonus to the clerical and subordinate staff also and lay down the rates and conditions for the same.
The main contention of the company before us is that as the clerical staff and the subordinate staff have no part in actual production they should not be given any incentive bonus, particularly as their work does not increase at all because of the increased production. It is, however, difficult to accept that there will be no increase in the work of the clerical staff in particular and also of the subordinate staff because of higher production, though it may be accepted that the increase may not be in proportion to the increase of production. It is also true that the clerical staff and the subordinate staff do not directly produce goods like manual workers and that may be a reason for treating them somewhat differently in the matter of incentive bonus and that is what the tribunal seems to have done, for it has directed the company to extend the scheme of incentive bonus to the clerical and subordinate staff and to lay down the rates and conditions of the same and has not said that exactly the same rates and conditions should apply to the clerical and subordinate staff as apply to the manual workers. But there can be no doubt that economically speaking the clerical staff and the subordinate staff also take part in the production and there is no reason therefore for excluding them altogether from the scheme of incentive bonus. Besides, as the tribunal has pointed out, in other comparable concerns incentive, bonus is being paid to the clerical and subordinate staff. The fact that dearness allowance was paid to the clerical staff at a higher scale is also, in our opinion, no reason for depriving them altogether of the benefits of the incentive bonus scheme.
(3.)IT is also urged on behalf of the company that the introduction of incentive bonus is a management function and the tribunal should not impose it on the management and reference in this connection has been made to Messrs. Titaghur Paper Mills Co. Ltd. v. Their Workmen. In the present case, however, the incentive bonus scheme has already been introduced by the company for the major part of its workmen and all that is now asked for it that the benefit of the scheme should be extended to the remainder of the workmen. This prayer is, in our opinion, very different from asking a tribunal to impose an incentive bonus scheme for the first time in a concern. We can see no reason why where an incentive bonus is in force in a concern for the majority of its workmen, the tribunal should not be able to extend the same to the remainder of the workmen.
We therefore see no reason to interfere with the order of the tribunal in this behalf.
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