ANDHRA PRADESH STATE ROAD TRANSPORT CORPORATION EMPLOYEES UNION BY ITS SECRETARY, Y.V. RAO Vs. ANDHRA PADESH STATE ROAD TRANSPORT CORPORATION, HYDERABAD REPRESENTED BY ITS GENERAL MANAGER AND ORS.
LAWS(APH)-1969-7-15
HIGH COURT OF ANDHRA PRADESH
Decided on July 28,1969

Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation Employees Union By Its Secretary, Y.V. Rao Appellant
VERSUS
Andhra Padesh State Road Transport Corporation, Hyderabad Represented By Its General Manager And Ors. Respondents


Referred Judgements :-

LORD DENNING IN MORGAN V. FRY [REFERRED TO]


JUDGEMENT

Chinnappa Reddy, J. - (1.)The Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation Employees' Union is the petitioner in this application for the issue of a Writ under Art. 226 of the Constitution. On 4-3-1966 the Union gave notice of strike in accordance 17th the provisions of Sec. 22(1) of me Industrial Disputes Act. A list of demands was enclosed and they were "(1) Dearness Allowance, (2) Bonus, (3) Revision of Pay scales, betterment of service conditions, (4) Decasualisation, (5) Confirmation of staff, (6) raising of mechanical staff quota, (7) Supply of chapals." The Commissioner of Labour, Government of Andhra Pradesh started conciliation proceedings in the course of which the Union suggested that the Management may accept the demands or in the alternative agree to voluntary arbitration either of all disputes between the parties or of the demands contained in the notice of strike. The Management was not agreeable to either course and the conciliation proceedings failed. On 28-3-1966 the workers struck work for one day. Negotiations started again between the Management and the Union and on 15-5-1966 there was a settlement by which the principal demands of the workers regarding payment of Dearness Allowance and Bonus were met and the other demands were left to be decided by a Pay Commission., The Management refused to pay the salary due to the workers on 28-3-1966 on the ground of 'no work, no pay'. The Union raised an Industrial Dispute regarding the payment of wages for 28-3-1966 and Government referred the dispute for adjudication to the Industrial Tribunal, Hyderabad. The tribunal held that the settlement of 15-5-1966 showed that only two out of seven demands were conceded by the Management and that that position was accepted by the Union. It therefore followed, according to the Tribunal, that the strike based on the seven demands was unjustified. The principle of 'no work, no pay' should therefore govern the situation. The Union filed the present application for the issue of a writ to quash the award of the Industrial Tribunal.
(2.)Sri Suryaprakasam, learned counsel for the petitioner contended that strike was a legitimate weapon of the workmen and resort to the right to strike in assertion of their bargaining power to back their collective demands could not be said to be unjustified when the Management itself conceded the principal demands and agreed to refer other minor demands for the decision of a Pay Commission. He submitted that the Tribunal was unduly obsessed by the 'no work, no pay' rule and paid no attention to the right of the workers to go on a strike to get the Management to accept their legitimate demands. For the Management Sri Balamukunda Reddy submitted that the strike was illegal as it was in violation of an agreement dated 15-12-1961 between the Management and the workers which was in force on 28-3-1966 when the workers struck work.
(3.)The question of legality of the strike, raised by the learned counsel for the management, may be considered first. Sec. 24 (1) of the Industrial Disputes Act declares that a strike shall be illegal if it is commenced or declared in contravention of Sec. 22 or Sec. 23. We are concerned in the present case with Sec. 23(c) which prohibits a workman from going on strike 'during any period in which a settlement or award is in operation, in respect of any of the matters covered by the settlement or award'. Sec. 19(2) provides that a settlement shall be binding for such period as is agreed upon by the parties and if no such period is agreed upon for a period of six months, and shall continue to be binding on the parties after the expiry of the period aforesaid, until the expiry of two months from the date on which notice in writing of an intention to terminate the settlement is given by one of the parties to the other party or parties to the settlement. It is the case of the management that on the day of strike i.e. 28-3-1966, there was in force a settlement in respect' of some of the demands made by the workers in their notice of strike. The settlement relied on by the management was one arrived at on 1-9-1961 between the Corporation and the workers. Among other matters the settlement revised the existing scales of pay and also dealt with dearness allowance. It was however expressly agreed that the scales of dearness allowance should be reviewed at the end of Aug. 1964. The settlement did not stipulate any period during which it w-as to be in force but it was stated as one of the terms of the settlement that the authorised representatives of the Union undertook that, for a period of five years from the date of the agreement, the members of the Union would not engage in, commit or abet any act subversive of industrial peace in the Corporation or opposed to the lawful objects of trade Unions. The learned advocate for the management submitted that this term meant that the settlement was to be in force for a period of five years. I am not prepared to construe an undertaking by the Unions that they would not indulge in any activity subversive of industrial peace etc., for a period of five years as prescribing the period during which the rest of the terms of the settlement were to be in force. If that was the intention of the parties nothing could have been simpler than to say that the settlement would be in force for a period of five years. On the other hand one of the terms of the settlement was that the scales of dearness allowance should be reviewed at the end of Aug. 1964, long before the end of the period of five years. Nor am I prepared to hold that a strike, if justified, could be considered an activity subversive of industrial peace or opposed to the lawful objects of Trade Unions. A right to strike is labour'^ ultimate weapon and in the course of a hundred years it has emerged as the inherent right of every worker. It is an element which is of the very essence of the principle of collective bargaining and as stated by an eminent English Judge the right to strike is 'an implication read into the contract by the modern law as to trade disputes'. See Lord Denning in Morgan Vs. Fry, (1968) 3 WLR 506 at p. 516 . The nature o-f the right is such that, it cannot in my view, be abridged or taken away save in strict conformity with the provisions of the statute providing for such abridgement or taking away. I therefore hold that the settlement of 1961 was not agreed to be in operation for five years and that it did not prohibit strikes, even if justified, for a period of five years. That, however does not conclude the question of legality of the strike because under Sec. 19(2), if no period is agreed upon, a settlement shall be binding for a period of six months and shall continue to be binding on the parties after the expiry of that period until the expiry of two months from the date on which notice in writing of an intention to terminate the settlement is given by one of the parties to the settlement. Of course the notice contemplated by Sec. 19(2) does not have to be in any particular form. It is enough if there is a notice in writing and if the notice expressly or by necessary implication discloses an intention to terminate the settlement. For instance a notice in writing containing new demands in respect of matters covered by the settlement may by necessary implication amount to a communication of the intention to terminate the & settlement. This question was not considered at all by the Tribunal. In fact the question whether the settlement was in operation was not considered at all by the Tribunal though expressly raised by the Corporation.
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