Decided on August 27,2003

E.S.I. CORPORATION Respondents


A.K.BASHEER, J - (1.) Does the appellant-Association of Steamer Agents come within the purview of the Employees State Insurance Act, 1948? This is the short question in this appeal under Section 82 of the Act, which has been referred to the Full Bench. First, the facts.
(2.) The appellant is a registered Association consisting of Steamer Agents functioning in the Cochin Port. The appellant Association has 57 Steamer Agents as members on its roll. The ships/steamers which visit the Cochin Port require services of Steamer Watchmen to do "watch and ward duty". Earlier the services of Steamer Watchmen were made available to the ships/Steamers by "Watchmen Contractors". In the year 1981, the labour unions raised a dispute regarding the service conditions of (he Steamer Watchmen I who were employed through the contractors. A conciliation meeting was convened by the Assistant Labour Commissioner (Central), Ernakulam. Representatives of the Indian Chamber of Commerce, Cochin and the Cochin Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Cochin were also invited to participate in the conciliation talks. A Memorandum of Settlement was signed on May 19, 1981 between the watchmen contractors and the labour unions under Section 12(3) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. A copy of the memorandum of settlement has been placed on record as Exhibit P2.
(3.) By Memorandum of Settlement, a seven member committee consisting of representatives of Watchmen Contractors and labour unions was formed "for the purpose of constituting a common pool of Watchmen so as to ensure equitable distribution of work" to the Steamer Watchmen working in the Cochin Port. Further, a Scheme viz., "Cochin Steamer Watchmen Employment Regulation Scheme, 1983" (for short, the Scheme) was drawn up "for rotational booking of Steamer Watchmen through a system of pooling". The Scheme was approved in the talks held on March 18, 1983. A copy of the memorandum of settlement incorporating the terms of the Scheme has been produced by the appellant as Exhibit P3. Thereafter on November 9, 1983 the administration of the Scheme was entrusted to a governing body consisting of 4 representatives from the labour unions and two representatives each from the Cochin Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Indian Chamber of Commerce, Cochin. An administrative agency was also appointed for the management of the day-to-day affairs of the Scheme.;

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