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The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947
Section 10 in The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947

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Andhra High Court
Management Of Singareni ... vs Industrial Tribunal-I, Hyd. & ... on 25 September, 1997
Equivalent citations: 1998 (3) ALD 643
Bench: M Ansari

JUDGMENT

1. The above writ petition is filed by the Management-petitioner herein questioning the award in I.D.No.8 of 1980.

2. The brief facts leading to the passing of the award in question are; That the petitioner is a public-sector undertaking owned by the Central Government and the State Government set up for extraction and sale of coal. The Government of India in exercise of the powers vested in it under Section 7 (A) and 10 (1) (d) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (hereinafter referred to as "the Act") referred the following dispute : "Whether the action of the management of M/s. Singareni Collieries Company Limited in placing in Category II Tub-repairing/ Making Mazdoor in Tub-repairing/making section at their Yellandu Workshop is justified. If not, to what relief are the concerned workman entitled ?"

3. The claim of the respondent -workmen is that the workmen i.e., Tub-repairing/making sectional Yellandu workshop should be categorised into Category IV instead of placing them in Category II and that the

Tub-manufacturing workers of Yellandu division should be paid minimum wages of Category IV instead of the wages being paid to them as applicable to Category II.

4. The stand of the petitioner -management before the Industrial Tribunal was that the Singareni Collieries is having its Coal Mining operations in three areas viz., Kothagudem (Khammam District), Ramagundam (Karimnagar District) and Bellampalli (Adilabad District) and each area comprises of divisions with group of mines. Yellandu is one of the divisions in Kothagudem area. There are various mechanical and electrical workshops located in divisions/areas. Tub-repairing/making is a section which forms part of the workshop where Tub-repairing or assembling of new tubes are being carried out. As in the case of other workshops in the areas/divisions, Tub-repairing/making section of Yellandu workshop consists of Tub-repairing Maistries (Category-IV) and mazdoors (Category-II).

5. By the impugned award, the Industrial Tribunal held that the Management is not justified in not keeping Category II mazdoors at Yellandu in Category IV as they are actually doing manufacturing work and involving the same nature of job as that of maistries (Category-IV). The dispute was accordingly answered in the following terms: " In the result, the action of the Management of M/s. Singareni Collieries Company Limited in placing in Category II Tub-repairing/Making mazdoors in Tub-repairing/making sections at their Yellandu workshop is not justified. The category II mazdoors are entitled to Category IV".

6. It must be stated here that according to workmen as per the evidence placed before the Industrial Tribunal, there is no worker in Kothagudem Workshop of Category II. In Kothagudem, workers of Category IV and higher categories do work in the manufacturing unit. It is this contention that found favour with the Industrial Tribunal and the mazdoors

in Category II were held to be entitled to be placed in Category IV. It is not in dispute that there are workshops at Ramagundam, Bellampalli and Mandamarri similar to the workshop at Yellandu which is employing both categories of workers i.e., Mazdoors Category II and Maistries Category IV. The Industrial Tribunal by its impugned award, however, has granted relief to the Mazdoors of Category II at Yellandu to be placed in Category IV as in the case of Kothagudem workshop.

7. Sri. K. Srinivasa Munhy, learned Counsel for the petitioner assailed the impugned award on several grounds, reference to which shall be made presently. However, insofar as the Tub-repairing/Making Section in the workshop at Kothagudem is concerned, it was submitted that the workshop at Kothagudem has a historical background. There was a Tub-repairing/making section in Kothagudem and the workers were all paid on piece rate basis i.e., on the number of tubs made by the workers, the earnings were based thereon. The piece rate was converted as time rated and there were time rated posts created. The Mazumdar Award which was published in the Government of India Gazette dated. 26-5-1956, placed Mazdoors in Categories I to Category VII based upon the nature of work performed by them involving some degree of responsibility. The Award also dealt with occupational nomenclatures and job description for each category. The nomenclature and job description in so far as Tub-repairing is concerned, it is defined as under :

"(50) Tub -Repairing :--A worker who assists a tub repairer or tub repairing blacksmiths and generally works under the direction of the repairer or blacksmith on the surface, and very occasionally underground. May be also called "rivet man'' or blacksmith helper''.

(261) Tub-Repairing .--Blacksmiths and their mazdoors generally do all tub repairs, including fastening the tub blocks to the frame with bolts and nuts."

8. The categorisation of the above have been made as under:

"Category-II : (50) Tub-repairing Mazdoors

"Category-IV: (261) Clamp fitters. Maistries"

9. In so far as piece rated workers arc concerned, it has been observed in Mazmudar Award as under:

"(5) Tub-Repairers are piece rated and the Union and the management have not been able to agree on the piece rates. There will be an increase of 25% over the existing piece rates".

10. Based on the said Award, the piece rated workers in Kothagudem workshop were granted an increase of 25% over the then existing piece rate. When effect was given to the Mazumdar Award in placing such workmen under various categories, the Management of Singareni Collieries -petitioners herein in so far as the workers in Kothagudem Workshop are concerned were placed them in Category IV on account of the enhanced wage granted to them by the Mazumdar Award. The said workmen could not have been placed in any other lower category on account of the enhanced wage awarded to the piece-rated workers of Kothagudem workshop.

11. In the light of the above, it is submitted by Sri K. Srinivasa Murthy, learned Counsel for the petitioner that the Industrial Tribunal exceeded in its jurisdiction in equating the Mazdoors of Category n and directing them to be placed in Category IV on mere comparison/analogy of workmen in Kothagudem workshop. It is the contention of the learned Counsel for the petitioner that the Central Wage Board for Coal Mine Industry has categorised Tub-repairing/making Mastries in Category IV and the Mazdoors who assist the Maistries in Category II. The Joint Bipartite Committee for Coal Industry dealt with nomenclature, job description and categorisation of workers, taking into consideration the findings of the standardisation committee issued implementation instructions

from time to time basing on the Mazumdar Award and Wage Board and National Coal Wage Agreements. As per the instructions issued by the Joint Bi-partite Committee with reference to Category II and Category IV are concerned, job description is as under:

Category - II (Semi - skilled lower) :

Page 10: Tub-Repairing/Making Mazdoor: Job description : "A workman who assists a tub-repairer or tub-repairing blacksmith and generally works under the directions of the repairer blacksmith on the surface, and very occasionally underground. Those formerly designated as "Rivet Man" or "Blacksmith Helpers" will henceforward be known as "Tub-repairing Mazdoors".

Page 17: Category - IV (Skilled Junior):

15. Tub-Rcpairing/Making Maistry: Job description : "Blacksmith and their mazdoors generally do all tub repairs including fastening the tub blocks to the frame with bolts and nuts."

12. Let us take up for consideration the contention of Sri. K. Srinivasa Murthy, learned Counsel for the petitioner with regard to the jurisdiction of the Industrial Tribunal in answering the reference in the manner that it did by placing Category II workmen in Category IV.

13. The Mazumdar Award is binding on all the workmen and managements in the Coal Industry as also the National Coal Wage Agreements which dealt with cases of anomalies and disabilities in regard to job description and categorisation. The Joint Bipartite Committee for Coal Industry similarly has considered and dealt with nomenclature, job description and categorisation of workers taking into consideration the findings of the standardisation Committee under the National Wage Agreement and issued implementation instructions. The nomenclature, job description and categorisation of workers in so far as they concern, the Category II and Category IV are concerned, they have been extracted supra.

14. It will thus be seen that there has been standardisation of the Wage structure, standardisation of nomenclature by taking note of the various nomenclatures used in the Coal Industry and the job description for each category of workmen in the Coal Industry.

15. In so far as Section 10 of the Act is concerned under which reference has been made in the instant case, the jurisdiction of the Tribunal by virtue of the statute is limited by the terms of the reference under this Section. In other words, the jurisdiction of Tribunal to adjudicate upon an industrial dispute springs from the reference made to it and is confined to the industrial dispute referred to it. The jurisdiction of the Tribunal is therefore naturally confined to the precise question referred for adjudication.

16. As already noticed, the question referred for adjudication was whether the action of the Management of M/s. Singareni Collieries in placing Category II Tub-repairing/making Mazdoor in Tub Repairing/Making Section at their Yellandu workshop is justified. The question so posed is in a positive form. The ancillary question was if not to what relief which the concerned workmen entitled. The plain meaning of that part of the reference is that if the Tribunal comes to the conclusion that placing Category II Tub-Repairing Maistries at Yellandu Workshop in Tub-Repairing Section is not justified, then what is the relief to which such Mazdoors would be entitled to. The main question therefore for consideration before the Tribunal was with regard to placing of Category II Mazdoor in Tub-repairing/making section and whether the same was justified. If the answer to the main question is in the negative i.e., to say if the Tribunal reached the conclusion that the placement of Category II Mazdoors is not justified, then alone the question of considering the ancillary relief would arise. However, if the answer to the main question is in the affirmative, then the ancillary question or the 2nd question would not arise for consideration.

17. In answering the main question, the Tribunal was bound in law to be guided by

categorisation as in the Mazumdar Award both with regard to nomenclature and job Description. As already noticed, the Mazdoors in Tub-repairing/making section at Yetlandu workshop are performing the works which are categorised in Category II, nomenclature for which is Tub-Repairing Mazdoors. The Tribunal should therefore have confined its enquiry to ascertaining whether the Tub-Repairing/making section at Yellandu workshop is having Mazdoors performing the jobs of Tub-repairing/making mazdoors and if so whether their placement in Category II was justified. It was not the function of the Tribunal to categorise the Tub-repairing mazdoors and place them in any other category. In answering the reference, the Tribunal exceeded its jurisdiction in directing Category n Mazdoors to be placed in Category IV. The question referred to was not for categorisation of Category II Mazdoors into Category IV Maistries. The specific question was whether the Category II Mazdoors placement in repairing/making section was justified.

18. There was ample evidence and material on record before the Tribunal with regard to the nature of work performed by the Mazdoors of Category n and Maistries in Category IV. The enquiry by the Tribunal should therefore have been confined to ascertaining whether the Mazdoors in Category II were performing the jobs as per the job description in the Mazumdar Award, National Coal Wage Agreement and the Joint Bipartite Committee. The Mazdoors in Category II were performing the works and jobs of the description as assigned to Tub-Repairing/Making Mazdoors or of a different nature unrelated to Tub repairing/Making was the only question to be decided to answer the dispute as to the justification of the Management in placing such mazdoors in Tub-repairing/making section at Yellandu workshop.

19. The question of workmen in Kothagudem workshop being placed in Category IV is for historical reasons, referred to supra and that is a matter irrelevant for

answering the question referred to the Tribunal. That being so, I am of the considered opinion that the Tribunal exceeded its jurisdiction in directing Category II Mazdoors to be placed in Category IV on the sole ground that they are performing same works as the workmen in Category-IV as in the case of Kothagudem workshop.

20. In the light of the above, it has to be held that the impugned Award suffers from an error of law insofar as the Tribunal exceeded its limits to the investigation of the dispute. No question of change in categorisation was either warranted nor was it referred for adjudication.

21. In the result, the above writ petition has to be allowed and the award impugned in the above writ petition is to be quashed by directing the issue of a writ of Certiorari. A writ accordingly shall issue quashing the impugned award. There shall, however, be no order as to costs.