Case Law Details

Case Name : Workmen of Renault Vs State of Tami Nadu (Madras High Court)
Appeal Number : W.P.Nos. 11948 and 11949 of 2021
Date of Judgement/Order : 17/05/2021
Related Assessment Year :

Workmen of Renault Vs State of Tami Nadu (Madras High Court)

Workmen of Renault-Nisan, Wipro Infrastructure & MRF filed Petitions with Madras High Court & contended that the safety or health of the workment cannot be compromised to keep the units functioning. High Court Observed as follows:-

Prima facie, it appears that a policy decision has been taken by the State to allow certain types of industries to function despite the strict lockdown imposed from last week. There is no doubt that due consideration would have gone into choosing which industries to exempt from the lockdown. There is also a presumption that the safety of the workmen at the relevant units would have been taken into account in arriving at the decision. However, at the end of the day, it is a policy decision and unless it is shown that such decision is absurd to the meanest mind, the Court in exercise of the authority under Article 226 of the Constitution may not seek to interfere in such a case.

Further, it is a matter between the employer and employees as to what measures should be adopted to ensure the safety and well-being of all employees. It is submitted on behalf of Renault that its employees have indicated no grievance export orders to meet and is, therefore, constrained to continue the manufacturing activities.

It is hoped that the industries that have been exempted from the rigours of the lockdown take independent measures to ensure the well-being and safety of the employees required to attend the office or manufacturing units. The Covid protocol has to be maintained at all times. Transportation has to be arranged, not only for the direct employees, but also for the contract labourers and trainees and such others who are expected to attend the office or the manufacturing facilities. Distancing norms have always to be maintained even during the manufacturing operations. It is hoped that necessary steps in such regard are taken by the concerned employers and, in any event, the manufacturing activities restricted to such as may only be necessary to meet the commitments so that there may be less footfall in the offices and the manufacturing facilities.

Copies of the orders dated 17th & 24th May 2021 are attached. The matters will be listed on 31st May 2021.

FULL TEXT OF THE HIGH COURT ORDER /JUDGEMENT

(Order of the Court was made by the Hon’ble Chief Justice)

The State and two of the employers, Renault-Nissan (Renault) and Wipro Infrastructure (Wipro), are represented.

2. The petitioners’ grievances are manifold,including the government’s decision to allow the automobile industry to function during the lockdown. The petitioners say that just because there may be pending health of the workmen may be compromised to keep the manufacturing units running. The petitioners say that there is no justifiable basis for the automobile industry to be exempted from the strict lockdown conditions otherwise imposed all over the State in the wake of the second surge of the pandemic.

3. Both Renault and Wipro have filed affidavits. The thrust of the affidavits is to indicate that safety measures are in place and Covid protocol is being maintained at the manufacturing units to ensure the safety and well-being of all workers. However, the petitioners complain thatthere are contract labourers and trainees who are being exploited and transport facilities are not made available to the contract labourers and trainees who are otherwise mandatorily required to attend on a daily

4. The petitionersalso suggest that the State should indicate the rationale behind its decision to exempt Renault and Wipro from the rigours of the

5. Prima facie, itappears that a policy decision has been taken by the State to allow certain types of industries to function despite the strict lockdown imposed from last week. There is no doubt that due consideration would have gone into choosing which industries to exempt from the lockdown. There is also a presumption that the safety of the workmen at the relevant units would have been taken into account in arriving at the decision. However, at the end of the day, it is a policy decision and unless it is shown that such decision is absurd to the meanest mind, the Court in exercise of the authority under Article 226 of the Constitution may not seek to interfere in such a case.

6. Further, itis a matter between the employer and employees as to what measures should be adopted to ensure the safety and well-being of all employees. It is submitted on behalf of Renault that its employees have indicated no grievance export orders to meet and is, therefore, constrained to continue the manufacturing activities.

7. It is hoped that the industries that have been exempted from the rigours of the lockdown take independent measures to ensure the well-being and safety of the employees required to attend the office or manufacturing units. The Covid protocol has to be maintained at all times. Transportation has to be arranged, not only for the direct employees, but also for the contract labourers and trainees and such others who are expected to attend the office or the manufacturing facilities. Distancing norms have always to be maintained even during the manufacturing operations. It is hoped that necessary steps in such regard are taken by the concerned employers and, in any event, the manufacturing activities restricted to such as may only be necessary to meet the commitments so that there may be less footfall in the offices and the manufacturing facilities.

8. The State, doubtless, is monitoring the situation at the various manufacturing units and should take immediate appropriate steps as deemed fit in the larger public interest and to maintain public health. In the event the State finds Covid protocol not being maintained at the exempted manufacturing units, immediate appropriate steps should be taken. The State should also monitor the working at various places and advise or restrict the functioning to the extent that may be necessary so as not to compromise public health.

9. The matter will appear on May 24, 2021 for the State’s affidavit to be received. It is recorded that both Renault and Wipro have filed their counter-affidavits and a rejoinder has been used by the petitioner in W.P.No.11948 of 2021 to the affidavit filed on behalf of Renault.

TEXT OF FURTHER ORDER DATED 24.05.2021 FOR READY REFERENCE OF OUR READERS

Since the State’s affidavit has not been forthcoming, let the matter stand over for a week. Copies of the State’s affidavit should be reached to the petitioners and the employers before the matter appears next.

2. There appears to be some tension between employer Renault Nissan and its employees, including a veiled threat of the workers desisting from attending the manufacturing unit if their concerns are not taken care It is also submitted on behalf of the petitioners that the workmen at the Hyundai Unit in the State have walked out this morning and have refused to participate in the further manufacturing process.

3. While employer Renault seeks to contend that appropriate measures have been put in place, that three shifts have been reduced to two and all safety arrangements have been made for workers, including their transportation and vaccination for those eligible to be vaccinated, the petitioners complain that the employer is seeking to take advantage of the exemption granted by the State Government without even bringing down the level of production to only so much as may be necessary to meet the export commitments. The petitioners also complain that there is no supervision of the current conditions at work by any government official, whether from the Directorate of Industrial Safety or the appropriate authorities under the Factories Act.

4. It is imperative that some kind of supervision be maintained by the State through the appropriate officers so that the workmen at Renault are not forced to work in conditions that may put their health in danger. The employer should also indicate if the level of production has been reduced, particularly since the conversion of three shifts to two may be meaningless if the overall number of to be the same. It will be open to the employer to furnish the further details by way of a supplementary affidavit be filed before the matter is taken up next.

5. Post on 31.05.2021.

Download Order Dated 24.05.2021 in case of Workmen of Renault Vs State of Tami Nadu (Madras High Court); W.P.No.11948 of 2021

Download Judgment/Order

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