TN: Chennai Metro Reinstates Four Dismissed Employees After 58 Months of Legal Battle, CITU, CMRLEU Hails Victory
Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
The employees of the Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) have won a decisive battle against the vindictive measures of the organisation, which dismissed the office bearers of the union for raising issues with the employees. After 58 months of sustained struggle and legal battle, four employees rejoined service on September 27 based on the consent orders of the Madras High Court.
Dismissed in 2019 for questioning the management’s decision to outsource regular jobs and withdraw allowances to employees, the four union office bearers of the CMRL Employees Union (CMRLEU) waged a spirited struggle, setting an example for the unity of the employees.
The court instructed the CMRL management and CMRLEU, affiliated with the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) to settle the issue of paying 50% back wages without a break in service for the four employees. The four dismissed employees were financially supported by the employees through monthly contributions in a show of unity of the trade union.
HOW THE STRUGGLE BEGAN?
CMRL began operations in 2015 and recruited around 250 employees for jobs in 2013 through competitive exams. The management implemented a pay revision in 2018, reducing the 35% allowance to 0% while leaving the allowances of officers untouched.
Disillusioned by the sudden decision of the management, the employees organised under the CITU and launched the CMRLEU. In the meantime, the management resorted to outsourcing key jobs, including train drivers and station managers.
The management dismissed eight employees who were office bearers of the union after a letter was submitted demanding the withdrawal of the contractualisation of regular jobs and recruiting those waiting for jobs since 2013 after clearing the examinations.
“Around 30 people who were selected in 2013 and were waiting for appointment approached the Supreme Court and won a mandate in their favour. However, the management claimed to have completed the appointment of required employees. On the same day, they called for contract appointments in 40 vacancies, which led to the union writing the letter to the management,” R Elangovan, vice president of CMRLEU, told NewsClick.
The management decided to suspend and then dismiss seven employees whose names were present on the letterhead of the union as office bearers.
Three employees tendered their apology and joined the service. By reappointing them, the management was sending a clear signal to the employees to refrain from union activities. The remaining four employees decided to wage a battle against the injustice meted out to them. The dismissal was executed when the matter was pending before the labour court.
‘STRIKE AGAINST DISMISSAL’
The employees decided to strike work against the vindictive measures of the management, following which a conciliation talk was held. On the condition of withdrawing the strike, the management agreed to reinstate seven dismissed employees and not to take action against any employees who participated.
“The management failed to implement the promises and continued with the retaliatory measures by dismissing 10 more employees. All those who participated in the strike were awarded an increment cut for four to six years. After approaching the labour court, the 10 employees were reinstated, and the management withdrew the increment cut,” Elangovan added.
The four dismissed employees approached the Madras High Court in 2020 seeking reinstatement, citing the merciless actions of the management. On September 25, 2023, the judge hearing the plea of the employees commented that dismissing the employees for being office bearers of the union is unacceptable.
“The judge, considering the possibility of the management appealing against the event of passing an adverse order, advised both parties to settle the case. The judge advised to pay 50% of wages for the dismissed period and reinstatement without a break in service. Both parties accepted the advice,” Elangovan said.
Another important feature of the struggle was how the employees protected the dismissed leaders of the union. Every employee contributed between Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000 and paid the dismissed employees for the past 58 months, upholding the spirit of the trade union.
Hailing the attitude of the employees, Elangovan said, “All four employees were paid the actual monthly wage they would have earned if in service. This is an exemplary and commendable model set by the CMRLEU.”
Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.