The Looking Glass of Employee Relations

Monday, February 07, 2005

Tata Workers Union Dilemma

Jamshedpur, Feb. 6: The rival faction of the Tata Workers’ Union (TWU), an Intuc-affiliated union of Tata Steel, today demanded reinstatement of the old executive committee and fresh union poll under the supervision of the state labour department.
The opposition camp led by two former union vice-presidents S.N. Singh and Shailesh Singh, who had earlier filed a petition at Jharkhand High Court alleging gross irregularities in the union poll, said today that they would meet R.B.B. Singh, the present president of the union, tomorrow.
They plan to pressure him to dissolve the new committee and hold a fresh election at the earliest.
“The new executive committee has no power to function as the union poll held on January 15 has been disapproved by the state labour department. We want that the old committee to be reinstated till a fresh election is held,” said S.N. Singh, one of the petitioners.
State labour commissioner-cum-trade union registrar Nidhi Khare had issued orders on February 4 rejecting the union poll held on January 15 and declared the election process “unconstitutional” and a gross violation of the TWU constitution.
The labour department’s missive came in the wake of a Jharkhand High Court order, which asked the labour commissioner to intervene in the union election.
The opposition camp members said the two previous elections in 1997 and 2000 were held under the supervision of the state labour department.

From the Telegraph

Tata Workers Union Dilemma

Jamshedpur, Feb. 6: The rival faction of the Tata Workers’ Union (TWU), an Intuc-affiliated union of Tata Steel, today demanded reinstatement of the old executive committee and fresh union poll under the supervision of the state labour department.
The opposition camp led by two former union vice-presidents S.N. Singh and Shailesh Singh, who had earlier filed a petition at Jharkhand High Court alleging gross irregularities in the union poll, said today that they would meet R.B.B. Singh, the present president of the union, tomorrow.
They plan to pressure him to dissolve the new committee and hold a fresh election at the earliest.
“The new executive committee has no power to function as the union poll held on January 15 has been disapproved by the state labour department. We want that the old committee to be reinstated till a fresh election is held,” said S.N. Singh, one of the petitioners.
State labour commissioner-cum-trade union registrar Nidhi Khare had issued orders on February 4 rejecting the union poll held on January 15 and declared the election process “unconstitutional” and a gross violation of the TWU constitution.
The labour department’s missive came in the wake of a Jharkhand High Court order, which asked the labour commissioner to intervene in the union election.
The opposition camp members said the two previous elections in 1997 and 2000 were held under the supervision of the state labour department.

From the Telegraph

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Warning against ``PILs for publicity''

The Supreme Court has warned all the High Courts against entertaining public interest litigation (PIL) petitions for publicity. A Bench of Justice Ashok Bhan and Justice A.K. Mathur said the PIL petition was, no doubt, a very useful handle for redressing the grievances of the people but unfortunately, lately, it had been abused by some interested persons giving it a bad name.

"Courts should be very slow in entertaining petitions involving public interest in very rare cases where the public at large stand to suffer. This jurisdiction is meant for the purpose of coming to the rescue of the downtrodden and not for the purpose of serving private ends," the Bench noted.

The Bench was of the view that it had now become common for unscrupulous people to serve their private ends and jeopardise the rights of innocent people so as to wreak vengeance for their personal ends. This had become very handy to the developers and in matters of public contracts. In order to serve their professional rivalry they utilised the services of the innocent people or organisation in filing a PIL petition.

The Bench made it clear that PIL petitions should be invoked very sparingly and in favour of a vigilant litigant and not for the persons who invoked this jurisdiction for the sake of publicity or for the purpose of serving their private ends. The Bench was allowing a special leave petition filed by R and M Trust against a judgment of the Karnataka High Court entertaining a PIL petition against the construction of a multi-storeyed building by the Trust in Koramangala in Bangalore. The Bench held that there was no prohibition for putting up the construction as similar constructions had come up in that area.

"Not a panacea"

The Judges reiterated that the PIL petition was not a pill or a panacea for all wrongs. "It was essentially meant to protect basic human rights of the weak and the disadvantaged and was a procedure which was innovated where a public spirited person files a petition in effect on behalf of such persons who on account of poverty, helplessness or economic and social disabilities could not approach the court for relief."

"PIL [petition] is a weapon which has to be used with great care and circumspection and the judiciary has to be extremely careful to see that behind the beautiful veil of public interest an ugly private malice, vested interest and/or publicity seeking is not lurking. This attractive brand name of PIL [petition] should not be used for suspicious products of mischief," they said.

From the Hindu

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Gender no bar to hear sexual offence cases

The Supreme Court today ruled that no case could be transferred from a court to another on the ground that a lady judge would find it ``embarrassing'' to hear a case pertaining to sexual offences. A Bench, comprising Justice N. Santosh Hegde and Justice S.B. Sinha, reversed an order of the Madras High Court, and said that judges heard and decided cases of any type irrespective of their gender, as it was their duty.
The case pertained to an offence registered by the Tamil Nadu police against five persons who were charged with having procured young men and women, preparing pornographic videos and CDs of them and selling them to pornographic websites.
When the question of examination of the CDs came up before the trial court in Chennai, which was presided over by a lady officer, the accused moved the High Court saying the examination of the CDs, the contents of which were such, would embarrass the lady judge and requested for transfer of the case to a court presided over by a male judge.
— PTI

Monday, January 10, 2005

Bank mergers: Unions chart protest plan

The United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) has drawn up an agitation programme to protest the proposed consolidation in the banking industry. Meetings with members of Parliament have also been lined up.
The consolidation plan, which is said to be supported by the Government, will lead to more harm than good, claimed Mr Ashok Datta, Convenor, UFBU.
Larger entities created by consolidating localised players may well be subject to raids by multinational outfits, while some employees will become redundant. Further, mergers of bank branches may also discourage the public, especially those situated in far-flung areas, from accessing banking services, the forum has maintained.
"The signals are confusing. Some sections feel that strong banks should be merged with weak ones. Some others are talking about creating a few mega entities. However, nothing is being conveyed to employee unions," Mr Datta told newspersons here.
UFBU is also aware of the opinion favouring large banks that will compete more effectively with the largest domestic player in the sector — State Bank of India. It is, however, unable to appreciate the reasons that are being forwarded in this context. The proposal, which is ostensibly aimed at giving the global giants a chase, is inherently weak.
There will be submissions before representatives of Indian Banks Association (IBA) and other agencies. Bank unions may also consider striking work at later stages.
Neither the Government nor the IBA has discussed the issue of consolidation with the unions, the forum alleged. Specifically referring to the proposal to unite Bank of India and Union Bank, Mr Datta said that a merger would reduce the number of branches in two key states, Gujarat and Maharashtra.
`Numbers tell the tale'
The United Forum of Bank Unions has given comparative figures to suggest that even a merger of all 19 nationalised banks will not create a new entity of international status. The Tier I capital of JP Morgan Chase, HSBC and Deutsche Bank, for instance, stands at $23,167 million, $13,380 million and $27,302 million respectively. In comparison, Indian banks such as SBI, PNB or Canara Bank appear to be midgets. Their Tier I numbers are $114 million, $57 million and $89 million respectively.
The consolidated figure for all the 19 nationalised banks is $2,965 million. This, UFBU has stated, indicates that consolidating the entire PSU banking industry, including the SBI group, will not create a global giant.

From the Hindu Business Line-Riju

Friday, January 07, 2005

Judge Lets Airline Toss Contract

Alexandria, Va. (AP) - The head of the flight attendants' union says it's enough to "send a chill up the spine of every working American."A bankruptcy court judge in Alexandria has canceled the collective bargaining agreements between Arlington-based US Airways and its machinists union.The ruling offers the airline hundreds of millions of dollars in annual savings, enough that the airline says it can now stave off liquidation.

The judge also approved a request to terminate the pension plans for machinists and flight attendants, declaring that even a billion dollars in potential savings over five years may not be enough to keep the bankrupt airline alive.The president of the flight attendants union, Tommie Hutto-Blake, says he's outraged that the "balance of power" seems to have shifted to protect bankruptcy laws and executive salaries.The termination of the contract with the International Association of Machinists would result in pay cuts of up to 35 percent for union workers and the loss of thousands of union jobs.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

Friday, December 31, 2004

Trade unions to meet to work out tsunami relief programme

Central trade unions are likely to meet here in the next few days to to chart out relief programmes, including adoption of villages, to help those affected by the killer tsunami.A meeting of the central trade unions is being mulled in this regard, sources told PTI and added that they have already appealed to their members and the working class to donate generously to the Prime Minister's Relief Fund.When contacted, CITU President M K Pandhe said he would try to convene a meeting afer consulting other union representatives.The unions had earlier considered a meeting to chalk out an agitation plan to protest the "hasty" decision by the UPA Government to promulgate an ordinance to amend the Patents Act, they said.But in the wake of tsunami that hit Indian shores on December 26, they felt that relief for the thousands of victims was important and there should be interaction among trade unions to help rehabilitation works in the tidal wave-affected regions.The unions would not hesitate to adopt the affected villages/places, sources said.The Centre and state governments have already started on a war-footing the relief and rehabilitation efforts, apart from measures to prevent outbreak of epidemic, after the tsunami gulped as many as 10,000 lives in India and destroying property worth thousands of crores of rupees. PTI

Friday, December 24, 2004

Victory for Indian port workers in bonus dispute

22 December 2004: Port workers across India have won a bonus deal following widespread demonstrations over the government’s failure to pay up.
Five port workers’ federations, among them ITF affiliate the All India Port and Dock Workers’ Federation, signed a conciliation settlement on 10 December in the presence of the government’s Chief Labour Commissioner. Under the terms of the agreement all port workers will receive a 15.5 per cent productivity-linked bonus. The agreement was reached in the wake of demonstrations at the beginning of November, during which dockers’ representatives threatened further strike action if the government failed to award the payment on a national, rather than a port-by-port basis.
Employees are set to receive the payment, which includes money still outstanding for the years 2002-2003 and 2003-2004, by 24 December. As a result of the settlement, threats to take strike action have now been withdrawn.
All India Port and Dock Workers’ Federation President SR Kulkarni thanked the Central Labour government minister as well as the ministers for Shipping, Road Transport and Highways, and Food and Agriculture. He stated that “their efforts to find an amicable solution in the dispute and to see justice done for the workers, helped to avert the proposed nationwide dock strike.”

Date published: 22 December 2004 Date reviewed: not applicable Source: ITF news online