Chennai

Declaration of holiday by govt under NI Act not applicable to private factories: Madras High Court

The declaration of a holiday by the government under the Negotiable Instruments Act of 1881 will not be applicable to private companies falling under the Factories Act of 1948 and therefore workers will not be entitled to wages if they fail to turn up for work on those days, the Madras High Court has ruled.

Justice S.M. Subramaniam held so while allowing a writ petition filed by the management of Bimetal Bearings Limited of Hosur in Krishnagiri district. The company had challenged an order passed by a labour court in favour of 47 employees who did not work on July 30, 2015.

The judge pointed out that former President APJ Abdul Kalam died on July 27, 2015, and hence the State Government issued a notification under the NI Act the next day declaring July 30, 2015, as a public holiday as a mark of respect.

The petitioner factory chose to declare it as a paid holiday only for those who were supposed to report for duty in the general shift (8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and first shift (7 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Holiday was denied to those on third (4 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.) and fourth (12:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m.) shifts.

When the workmen demanded a holiday for the other shifts too, the management agreed to grant it on condition that they should work on their weekly off day, which fell on August 2, 2015. About 47 workers did not accept the condition and hence they were denied wages leading to an industrial dispute.

Not finding any illegality in the decision taken by the factory management, Justice Subramaniam said: “This court is of the considered opinion that declaring a holiday by the Government under the Negotiable Instruments Act would not be directly applicable to private companies falling under the Factories Act.

“Thus, it is to be construed that the management granted a concession for the workers of the second shift and third shift, enabling them to avail holiday on July 30, 2015 provided they agree to work on August 2, 2015. It is only an alternative concession provided to the workmen of second shift and third shift.

“Such a concession can never be construed as a legal right so as to arrive a conclusion that the workers of the second shift and third shift are entitled for a holiday as per the Government Order which was issued under the Negotiable Instruments Act.

“A concession is a form of privilege. A concession is nothing but a conditional right. A privilege or a concessional right cannot be interpreted as an absolute right, which alone would constitute a right to file a claim a petition under Section 33-C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act of 1947.”

Article source: https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/declaration-of-holiday-by-govt-under-ni-act-not-applicable-to-private-factories-madras-high-court/article29731729.ece

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