The Madras High Court on March 6 extended its earlier interim stay order issued to retain the 294 employees in the Coimbatore plant. The Pricol management unilaterally dismissed 294 permanent employees on February 13, by serving dismissal orders which were dated February 11, 2019. The management representative was absent for the reconciliation meeting chaired by the District Collector (in charge) organised by the Labour Department.
The permanent employees, numbering 302 were transferred when they re-joined duty after their 100 days long strike which had begun on August 21, 2018. They were demanding the revision of minimum wages and fair distribution of bonus to all employees. The transfer orders were issued as a revenge measure, even after the management conceded to few demands of the employees. The Kovai Mavatta Pricol Thozhilalar Otrumai Sangam (KMPTOS) affiliated to the All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) had approached the Labour Court challenging the transfer of employees. The District Collector and the Labour Department had earlier termed the transfers as illegal and recommended the management to reconsider the orders, however, they were not ready to yield even after continuous discussions.
The Union office bearers claimed that with the Labour dispute still pending, the dismissal orders stand void as per the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947, section 31-1(b). Jayaprakash Narayanan, treasurer of the KMPTOS, who is one among the six office bearers now dismissed, said, "We filed a writ petition before the Madras High Court on February 15 praying for the stay of the dismissal of employees. The Hon'ble Court ruled in our favour and the learned counsel of the management accepted to retain the staff in the payroll of Coimbatore plant itself".
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He further added, “The hearing was over on February 27 and we are happy that the High Court has extended the stay through its verdict on March 6.”
The management had been pressurising the members of the protesting Union to join another Union which acts in favour of the management. The employees were not ready to accept the demand of the management which ended in high handed action to the level of dismissal violating all existing laws. The 294 employees and their families are now relieved with the verdict of the Madras High court and are awaiting to rejoin duty provided the management decides against an appeal.
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