Decided on September 05,1967



- (1.) THESE two writ petitions also out of an unfortunate rivalry between three registered trade unions representing the workers in the Indian Aluminium Company, Ltd. (hereinafter referred to at the company ). The company has about 750 workers, including the office staff which consists of clerical and non-clerical sections. The office staff has got a strength of 113, of which 53 belong to the clerical section. There is some dispute regarding their exact number. The Aluminium Factory Workers' Union (hereinafter referred so as the first union) has been in existence for a very long number of years; and to was the only trade union which represented the workers in the company till very recently. The Indian Aluminium Company Employees' Union (hereinafter referred to as the second union) was formed in 1965: and it claims a membership of 134, including in few workers in the non-clerical section of the office staff. According to the first union, the strength of the second union is much less. The Indian Aluminium Company Staff Association (hereinafter referred to as the third union) was also formed in 1965: and it claims to repression 39 out of the 53 members of the clerical staff, according to the statement appended to the additional counter-affidavit dated 25 March 1967 filed on its behalf in Original Petition No. 4877 of 1956. This claim is not disputed. The first union claims a membership of 680; but according to the second and the third unions, the first union has now only a membership of 350.
(2.) ACCORDING to the first union, it has been the sole collective bargaining agency of the workmen in the company ever since 1951, and all Industrial disputes or grievances and claims of the workers were duly raised, transacted and setteled by it. The practice was to consult the members of the union through the general body meetings at every stage, and settle matters after the concurrence of the general body, and arrive at long-term settlements in respect of general questions. On 12 June 1963, a long-term settlement was arrived at between the company and the first union and it was to be in force till 31 December 1965. On 29 May 1965, the Payment of Bonus Ordinance, 1965, was promulgated, which substantially altered the law relating to payment of bonus, and therefore, a revision of the bonus scheme contained in the settlement of 12 June 1963 became necessary. Accordingly, another settlement was arrived to between the company and the first union in respect of bonus on 20 August 1965. I am referring in this judgment to the exhibits in Original Petition No. 4377 of 1968, as most of the documents relevant to the controversy between the parties have been produced in this case, Exhibit P. 1 is a copy of the memorandum of the above settlement and it provides that this settlement would remain in force till 31 December 1968. It also contains a clause, which the first union describes as "the usual provision,'' to the effect that the first union has been recognized as the sole collective bargaining agent for the workmen as defined in Section 2 (s) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, an amended from time to time now employed and hereafter employed by the company during the life of this agreement ). During the pendency of the negotiations, which led to the settlement, Ex. P. 1, some of the workers including a few workers in the nonclerical section of the office staff fell out from the first union, and they formed and registered the second union. The large majority of the clerical staff thought that they formed a class by themselves, having special interests of their own, which differed from the interests of the general workers as a whole, and that they should have their own trade union. Accordingly, they resigned from the first union, and formed the third union, which was also duly registered. The resignation took place on 27 August 1965, which was two days prior to Ex. P. 11 and the immediate reason for this development was that the clerical staff felt that their interests were not properly cared for or safe-guarded in, the negotiations which led to the settlement, Ex. P. 1.
(3.) ON 31 December 1965, the long-term settlement of 1963 expired. The first union, claiming to represent the totality of the workers, placed a charter of fresh demands, Ex. P. 2, dated 21 January 1966, before the company demanding better service conditions in respect of wages, leave, salaries, provident fund, gratuity, etc. The second union also submitted two memorandoms of demands to the company. These memorandums or their copies have not been produced in this case. But Ex. P. 5. a letter, dated 28 October 1966, of the District Labour Officer, Always, refers to them, and they were dated 10 February and 20 October 1966, The third union submitted a memorandum of demands to the company regarding the office staff on 7 March 1966 Exhibit P. 3 is a copy of this memorandum. The third union clamed that is alone was competent to represent the clerical staff, and that any settlement arrived at between the company and the first union would not be binding or acceptable to the clerical staff This is obvious from the letters (copies of which have been produced in Original Petition No. 3544 of 1966), which the third union had written from time to time to the first union, to the company and to the officers of the Labour Department. On 20 July 1966, the District Labour Officer. Always, issued a notion to the company and the third union to held a joint conference of the parties in respect of the demands, which the third union had made on 7 March 1969. But the company declined to attend the conference, and it was adjourned. In the meanwhile, the first union and the company were negotiation for the settlement of the charter of demands placed by the first union as per Ex. P. 2. The third union, therefore, filed a suit in the Parur Munsif's Court as Original Suit No. 412 of 1966 for an injunction reatraining the first union and the company from entering into any settlement concerning the clerical staff, and obtained an order of interim injunction. This was vacated on 25 August 1966. The third union then filed Original Petition No. 3544 of 1966 on 3 October 1966, praying for a writ of mandamus or other appropriate writ or order directing the District Labour Officer, Alwaye, the Labour Commissioner, Trivandrum, and the Deputy Labour Commissioner, South Zone, Trivandrum, who are respondents Section 4 and 5, respectively, in this original petition, not to give their concurrence to any settlement of the demands relating to the clerical staff of the company without giving an opportunity to the third union to participate in the conciliation proceedings. The works manager of the company and the general secretary of the first union are respondents 1 and 2 in this original petition. On 7 October 1966, the third union got an order of interim injunction from this Court to the above effect. On 17 October 1966 the company and the first union executed a memorandum of settlement, Ex. P. 4, by which they settled the demands made by the first union as per Ex. P. 2. This was done without reference to the second and third unfone, and ignoring their claims to represent two sections of the workers of the company. However, respondent 3, the District Labour Office, Alwaye, issued a notice, Ex. P 5, dated 28 October 1966, to the company and the second union, and another notice, Ex. P. 6, dated 4 November 1966, to the company and the third union; proposing to hold a Joint conference of the parties for settlement of the demands raised by these respondents unions. Original Petition No. 4377 of 1966 was these, filed by the first union on 6 December 1966, praying for a writ in the nature of a prohibition or other appropriate direction restrainig respondents 1 to 3 (who are the State of Kerala, the Labour Commissioner, Trivandrum, and the District Labour Officer, Alwaye, respectively from exercising their powers under Sections 10 and 12 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (hereinafter referred to as the Act), in in (sic) of Exs. P. 5 and P. 6, and in the alternative for a direction to the said respondents not to proceed for her under Exs. P. 5 and P 8 without notice to the first union and without reference to the settlements as per Exs. P. 1 and P. 4. The company is respondent 4, and the third and the second unions are respondents 5 and 6, respectively, in this original petition.;

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