The Hon’ble Commissioner of Labour,
Pudicherry, Union Territory.
Sub: representation-illegal Lock-Out-Regency Ceramics Limited, Yanam- seeking immediate intervention-regarding.
- 1. Regency Ceramics Ltd, located in Yanam is a Public Limited company that manufactures Ceramic tiles used for floors, walls and exteriors in office and home spaces. The Company was established in the year 1984. Initially the workforce was 400 but at present it has reached up to 3000. The company is well known, flourishing and gaining profits consistently with a clientele extended across the world. With the profits gained from this manufacturing unit, it also extended itself to establish 3 ancillary units and also several educational institutions around Yanam, and another tiles manufacturing unit in Karikal. Both Yanam and Karikal are part of Pondicherry Union Territory.
- 2. The workers of this company have been constantly pushed into turmoil due to the management’s harsh and coercive methods of extracting work in violation of labour laws. In the first place the management never allowed the workers to form a Trade Union. Those workers who even entertained such a thought, the management promptly served dismissal orders by the management. Workers who tried to form a union in 1989 were subjected to this treatment. The said union disappeared shortly within its formation as all its office bearers were removed from service on false charges. From then onwards none of the workers dared to form a Union. With this confidence the management exploited the workers by paying low wages, not following the 8 hour working day, nonpayment of bonus, not paying equal wages to women workers, lack of safety measures, biased promotions, no fixed date in payment of salary and many other acts violative of the livelihood, safety and dignity of the workers, in addition to violation of labour laws.
- 3. In the face of mounting violation of labour laws, all the workers came together under the leadership of Mr M.S.Murali Mohan, formed a Union and got it registered in January, 2011. When the management came to know that the registration of this Union was pending before the Registrar, Trade Unions, it immediately started its tyrannical methods by issuing malafide transfer orders to the 9 office bearers by posting them at Karikal manufacturing unit. We made a several requests to the management to revoke the order of transfer but due to the adamant attitude of the management all our efforts went in vain. Having no other alternative we approached the Labour Officer, Puduchery. The said authority conducted Conciliation meeting wherein both management and our Union arrived to settlement. We agreed to restrict the transfer order for 3 employees that too at the discretion of the management instead of eleven employees. But management failed to implement the said terms of the settlement for the reasons best known to them which explicitly shows that though there is no requirement for transfer of employees they have issued malafide transfer of orders with an intention to effect the workers right to organise which is prohibited under law.
- 4. On 18-4-2012 we being Union gave a representation to the management requesting them to avail holiday to all the members to celebrate May Day at the out skirts of the Yanam. However the management declared it as a paid Holiday by issuing a General Notice Dt:21-4-2012, not referring to our representation. There after we celebrated the May Day at private place which is 200mts away from factory. After secretly learning about the unity of the workers in that celebrations the management on 2-5-2011 sent a telegram to the union falsely alleging that our union has deliberately absented from attending work on1-5-2011. The management has no locus standi to restrict the workers from celebrating May Day which being the National Holiday. Subsequently, i.e. from 3-4-2011 onwards, management started victimizing the workers. Firstly the management illegally dismissed 60 workers, including 25 women workers at one stroke without any valid reason. All these workers had worked for more than 15 years in the Company. The workers raised a dispute before the Asst. Labour Inspector, Yanam complaining about the illegal termination. The ALI, Yanam admitted the issue of the illegal termination of the 54 workers into conciliation. Secondly, the management issued show cause notice to Mr Murali on false and frivolous allegations. Subsequently the management conducted a spurious enquiry and dismissed Mr Murali.
- 5. While it is so, Union raised a Charter of Demands dated 25-5-2011 which included both statutory and non-statutory demands which had remained unimplemented and unquestioned for all these years. The management paid no attention to the Charter of Demands and made no effort to invite the Union for talks. With no other alternative, the Union placed these demands before the Assistant Labour Inspector (ALI), Yanam seeking their intervention. While the Charter of demands was pending conciliation, the management approached the Pondicherry High Court questioning the validity of the registration of the Union. The Pondicherry High Court admitted the Writ Petition and stayed the functioning of the union for few weeks. Later the said Writ Petition was disposed of asking the management to approach appropriate authority.
- 6. In August 2011 the workers gave a mass representation to the management about the Charter of Demands and also the issue of regularization of contract labour. The management did not respond. The workers represented to the Assistant Labour Inspector. The Assistant Labour Inspector admitted the said dispute for conciliation which is still pending. Mean while workers asked the management to pay the increment and equal bonus that was being paid to the workers in the Karikal unit. The management informally held a meeting with the workers and informed them that they are ready to pay bonus though not on par with the Karikal workers. In respect of the increment, the management offered to pay the increment if the workers agreed to increase the production. The workers took it up as a challenge and worked hard to increase the production. Within no time the workers increased the production (i.e 36,000Sqmts per day within 15days) and then requested the management to fulfill its promise in respect of increment. But the management breached its promise and informed the workers that they will not pay the increment.
- 7. The management warned the workers by threatening them that they will destroy their future if they raise any other demand on any subject. To create fear among the workers our Union office bearers were suspended in the month of November 2011. When workers opposed the suspension of the office bearers, the management retaliated by not allotting work to the workers. All the workers were kept idle. This practice which began in December 2011 was continued until January 2nd, 2012. The management in a pre planned way stopped clearing the gas and electricity bills. Workers’ salaries were not paid from the month of November 2011. Through all these efforts the production of the factory was brought to low.
- 8. The management also started a campaign of blaming the workers for the low figures of production. All of a sudden, on January 2nd, 2012, the management imposed a condition that all workers have to sign an undertaking which is illegal. Upto 800 permanent workers refused to sign the under taking imposed by the management. The management gave instructions to the security people that those workers who did not sign the undertaking will not be allowed into the factory. From that day onwards workers who opposed the undertaking were not allowed into the factory.
- 9. During this protracted battle the Assistant Labour Inspector made no effort to intervene in the situation and resolve the issues though workers gave representation Dt 5-1-2012. In these circumstances the workers in order to protect their interests, resorted to sit in campaign against the unfair labour practices at the out skirts of Yanam town which falls under the Andhra Pradesh state. To their fate none of the Authorities of Yanam intervened to protect the interests of the workers.
- 10. In the early hours on 27th January 2012, Mr M.S.Murali Mohan and a handful of workers were discussing the union affairs at a place some 300mts away to regency factory. The Yanam police suddenly swooped on Mr M.S.Murali Mohan beat him and pushed him into the jeep. The workers forced themselves into the jeep to follow Mr M.S.Murali Mohan. He was taken to Yanam Police station and was beaten black and blue by the police and he collapsed in the said Police Station. Upon great persistence of the workers he was shifted to Government Hospital, Yanam, but was declared by the doctor as brought dead.
11. Subsequently violence erupted in the Regency factory area and some
Other place of the management. Another furious mob attacked the
president of the factory Mr Ch.Chandra Shekar and he died succumbed
to injuries at a private hospital at Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh.
12. After three days, on 31-1-2012, the management declared a lock-out in the Regency Ceramics ltd, while Regma Packaging (P) ltd was declared on 2-2-2012. No prior notice was issued to workers. The management issued the said notice on the ground that the workers were not cooperating, that they had resorted to an illegal strike, that all production had come to a standstill, that machinery was destroyed in the arson and that the management was therefore forced to declare a lock-out.
The declaration of the Lock-out of the factory by the management is illegal for the following reasons:
- · The reasons mentioned in lock-out notice are not tenable in law.
- · The lock-out was declared without issuing any notice to the workers.
- · Contrary to the version of the management about large scale arson and damage in the factory, no damage was caused to the premises and machinery in the Regency Ceramics factory. The damage that occurred is low and it will not affect to run the factory.
- · The insistence of an under taking to be given by the workers from the management is unfair and contrary to labour law. The management can’t deny entry to those who refuse to give such under taking. This attitude establishes that there is an un-declared lock-out from 2nd January 2012.
- · The low productivity of the factory in the month of December 2011 cannot be attributed to workers. By not paying the Gas and Electricity bills discloses the evil design of declaring lock-out.
- · No Strike was ever initiated by the workers. The workers never refused to work. It was the management that disallowed the workers by continuously not allotting work from December, 2011 and by insisting upon the signing of the undertaking in January, 2012. In addition before declaring the lock-out the management never complained before any authority about any strike by the workers. In absence of strike by the workers the management can’t declare a lock-out.
- · The disputes between workers and management, Union and management are in conciliation and pending before Asst. labour Inspector, Yanam.
- · The facts enumerated in the Lock-out are false and concocted for the purpose of lock-out notice.
Under the above circumstances we request the Labour Commissioner to intervene the matter and pleased to issue the following directions in the interests of the Industrial peace and Harmony.
- Declare the lock-Out Dt: 31-1-2012,2-2-2012 issued by the management of the Regency Ceramics Ltd and Regma Package(p) Ltd, Yanam as illegal.
- Direct the management to pay salaries to the workers from the month of December 2011.
- Direct the Assistant Labour Inspector to settle all the demands raised by the workers by holding the conciliation meeting.
We request the Hon’ble Commissioner of Labour to forthwith declare the Lock-out as illegal and to take measures to open the factory. There are 3000 workers and their families who are dependent on the Company for their livelihood. We therefore pray to the Hon’ble Commissioner of Labour to intervene and protect the interests of the workers.
Thanking you sir,
Council for Applicants
Senior Advocate High Court of Andhra Pradesh