65 employees sacked in Lokmat Group

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The premier trade union of newspaper employees in Nagpur has membership in the leading chain of newspapers “Lokmat”(Marathi), “Lokmat Samachar” (Hindi) and “Lokmat Times” (English) spread throughout Maharashtra.  It is significant to note that even journalists are members of the Union.  It has a branch of the union at Goa too.  One Shri  who is working on contract basis was elected President of the Goa Unit.

Immediately after the Unit was formed at Goa, the Vice President (HR) Shri Balaji Mule visited Goa and asked Shri Manoj Ingulwar  to immediately resign from the union failing which his contract will not be renewed and he will be removed from service.  Shri Ingulwar refused to resign from the union and hence he was dismissed from service on 12.11.2013.

The office bearers of the union at Head Office Nagpur took up the issue with the top management of the Lokmat and requested for immediate reinstatement of Shri Ingulwar the President of Goa Unit of the Union but the management refused.  It put the condition that all the industrial disputes filed by the union should be withdrawn unconditionally and only then the workman will be taken back.  Further the management also wanted the union to give an undertaking that it will not file any industrial disputes against the management in future.  That because of this adamancy and anti-labour attitude of the management the employees throughout Maharashtra went on two days mass leave which resulted in dismissal of 65 employees, including eight journalists, on 21.11.2013 throughout the State of Maharashtra.

That as demands of the Union regarding reclassification of the newspaper establishment under Palekar Award and under Bachawat Award  along with seven other demands regarding leave etc., were pending before the Industrial Tribunal, Nagpur, the management was required to take approval of the Industrial Tribunal for the impugned dismissal of the employees.  The application for approval was made by the management on the same day viz., 21.11.2013.

In order to crush the Union, the management with the help of its cronies called a general meeting of all the employees – who are not members of the union – and elected new set of office bearers and on the basis of such a fraud filed a fraudulent agreement before the Industrial Tribunal stating that in pursuance of the said agreement all the pending References filed by the Union have been withdrawn as settled.  That a request was made to the Tribunal for passing an Award in terms of such settlement.

The Union challenged the alleged “bogus” election and got a stay on the same.  The matter went to the High Court and the matter was decided in favour of the Union and its present office bearers.  That as a result of the same, the approval proceedings initiated by the management before the Industrial Tribunal were saved and were required to be continued.

In order to delay the proceedings, the management  examined 118 witnesses and the union examined 24 witnesses.  A large number of documents were filed, detailed arguments, both written and oral, were advanced.  However, the Industrial Tribunal on a technical ground refused to pass order on merit as according to it the employer employee relationship was disputed. Both the parties took the matter to the High Court and the High Court remanded the matter for being decided by the Industrial Tribunal within six months.  The matter was again argued and when the it was fixed for judgment, again, in order to frustrate the decision, the management now withdrew its original application seeking approval of dismissal. 

Thus the net result of the withdrawal of application for grant of approval to the impugned dismissal dated 21.11.2013, is the dismissal is without approval of the Industrial Tribual.  Therefore, the Union filed proceedings under Sectin 33A of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 and also sought interim relief of being reinstated or alternately being paid full wages pending final decision in the matter of application under Section 33A of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.  The Industrial Tribunal, Nagpur, by its interim order dated 7.11.2017 directed the management to reinstate the 24 employees, most of whom are principal office bearers of the Union, or alternately pay them 75% of the last drawn wages, pending final decision in the matter.

Shri S.D. Thakur, Advocate, Legal Advisor of the Union who also happens to be the President of the AINEF, conducted the matter throughout and will be dealing with the same hence forth too.

S.D. Thakur,
(A composite union of Journalists & Non-journalist employees)
Flat No.29, Shankar Market, Connought Circus, New Delhi 110 001.

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