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The workers in the factory are paid piece rate wages with no transparency in the

process. They do not have any information on what constitutes a piece and the
rate at which they will be paid for the piece. Moreover, the number of contract
workers engaged in the factory for direct production work is more than twice the
number of direct confirmed workers engaged for doing the same work. These
facts by itself would indicate the status of labour law compliance in the factory.
by victimizing those identified as working in that direction
it had also established its own union in the factory and hand-picked the office
deducting subscription from the wages of all the confirmed workers in the factory
towards its union
In 2003, however, the workers did succeed in forming an independent trade
union by name MRF United Workers Union and got it registered
The management has however not accorded recognition to the union till date
It has also continued to deduct subscription from the wages of the members of
the MRF United Workers
thus creating the false impression that the majority of the workers in the factory
are members of the latter union as well
January 2004 onwards engaged in a spate of acts of anti-union discrimination
against the office bearers ( unjust dismissals, suspensions, inter departmental
transfers, initiation of disciplinary proceedings on false grounds, issue of warning
letters and memos on false grounds and the lodging of false criminal complaints
against the office bearers and members of the union.)
the labour authorities took the stand that there was no central or state law in
force in the state providing for ascertaining the representative status of the trade
unions operating in an establishment by secret ballot and therefore, it could not
be done.
, secret ballot would be the only mode of clearly establishing the representative
status of the respective unions.
lodged a complaint before the ILO Governing Bodys Committee on Freedom of
Association (CFA)
the determination of the most representative trade union by secret ballot would
not only be an acceptable but also a desirable way to ensure that workers
exercise their right to choose the organization which shall represent them in
collective bargaining. (CFA)
it was found that the union represents 70 percent of the workers in the Arakonam
factory, the CFA recommended that the Government take appropriate measures
to obtain the employers recognition of the union for collective bargaining
the CFA also recommended that the Government forthwith conduct an
independent inquiry into all alleged acts of anti-union discrimination suffered by
the office bearers and members of the union
The Government thereafter did not take any effective steps to implement the
union filing a Writ Petition before the Madras High Court seeking the
implementation of the recommendations of the CFA,
the union pleaded that as a member state of the ILO, India was duty bound to
implement the recommendations of the CFA
even if the union could straightaway not be accorded recognition on the basis of
the recommendations, the Government ought to act on the basis of the
principles laid down by the CFA relating to collective bargaining and the
recognition of representative trade unions and the CFAs conclusion that secret
The stand taken by the Government of Tamil Nadu was that there being no
central or state law on the subject of recognition of trade unions, neither could
the recommendation of the CFA to ensure that the union was accorded
recognition by the employer be implemented nor could its suggestion to hold a
secret ballot
The employer and the management operated union took the stand that the CFAs
recommendations are not binding
the management took the stand that it is a matter of absolute discretion for the
management to recognize or not recognize any particular union
The court underscored the importance of workers having a truly representative
and independent collective bargaining agent observing that this was in the
interest of industrial peace apart from being in the interest of the workers.
that the truly representative and independent collective bargaining agent of the
workers be recognized by the management and that the management cannot
refuse to bargain collectively in good faith
The court further held that the stand of the management that it will decide as to
who should be the representative of the workmen and that it will negotiate only
with them is contrary to the letter and spirit of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.
the court opined that the verification procedure prescribed under the Code of
Discipline would be the correct method.
the court observed that while secret ballot would only indicate the following of a
union at a particular point of time, the method of verification would show the
following of a particular union over a longer period and would therefore be a
better option.
Accordingly, the court issued directions for determination of the representative
status of the unions operating in the factory in accordance with the verification
procedure provided for under the Code of Dsicipline.
the ruling clearly establishes that even in a state when there is no specific law in
operation relating to the recognition of trade unions or no statutory requirement
as such requiring an employer to accord recognition to the union in the
concerned establishment with the largest membership, the employer is bound to
accord recognition to the most representative union in the establishment for
collective bargaining purposes.
even while the preference of the union was for a secret ballot, the very fact that
the court has directed the verification of the representative status of the unions
operating in the establishment and has held that the employer is bound to
accord recognition to the union found to be truly representative.