The Bombay high court last week ruled that a labor dispute can be referred to the tribunal under the Industrial Disputes Act at the instance of an unrecognized workers’ union. In this dispute between Bharat Forge Ltd and Maharashtra General Kamgar Mahasangh, the recognized union had 800 workers at the Pune plant.
The unrecognized Mahasangh represented contract laborers. They demanded regularization of employment. The company rejected the request as Mahasangh was not a recognized union. The conciliation officer referred the dispute to the industrial tribunal which action was challenged by the company. The division bench of the high court noted that so far as Maharashtra was concerned Section 10(1) of the Act did not insist that in arriving at its opinion the state government was required to consider whether the dispute was raised by a union recognized or not. The government did not determine the rights of the parties by referring the dispute to an industrial adjudicator. Therefore the unrecognized union cannot be “shown the door” at the threshold itself, the high court said while rejecting the company’s petition.