17 Jun 2023 2:33 AM GMT
The Kerala High Court on Friday suggested to the Federal Bank and the Federal Bank Officers’ Association to consider mediation to resolve the dispute between the parties keeping in mind the larger public interest. A single bench of Justice C S Dias asked both parties to keep in mind the customers’ plight “I’m saying this in the larger public interest. What is the customer’s due?...
The Kerala High Court on Friday suggested to the Federal Bank and the Federal Bank Officers’ Association to consider mediation to resolve the dispute between the parties keeping in mind the larger public interest.
A single bench of Justice C S Dias asked both parties to keep in mind the customers’ plight “I’m saying this in the larger public interest. What is the customer’s due? You can strike, you can have collective bargaining whatever you want, that is not the concern. What about the customers? Tomorrow banks will come to a stand still, what will the people do?” the Court asked both parties.
Justice Dias told the counsel for Federal Bank to listen to the demands of the Officers’ Association “They have certain demands, you sit across the table and decide. If you are both ready I will refer you to a retired Supreme Court judge or retired High Court judge, you sit across the table and have a mediation.”
The Court directed both parties to suggest a retired Supreme Court judge or retired High Court judge, to mediate the issue, if the parties are amenable to mediation. The matter has been posted to 20th June for further consideration.
The Court was considering a plea by the Federal Bank Officers’ Association challenging the conciliation notice issued by the Regional Labour Commissioner on an alleged notice of strike by the Association against Federal Bank.
Senior Advocate P Chidambaram appearing for the Association argued that the notice of strike was only issued to Federal Bank and not to the Labour Commissioner. “I issued a notice to my employer, I did not issue a copy to the Labour Commissioner, nor did I mark a copy to the Labour Commissioner.” He also argued that members of the Association are not workmen under Section 2(s) of the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947 and hence their dispute would not qualify as an industrial dispute. The Petitioner being an Association representing employees in the officer category cannot raise an industrial dispute, it was argued.
The Counsel for the Petitioner also argued that the Terms and Conditions of service of employees in the Officers’ category is governed by the Federal Bank Ltd (Officers’ Service) Rules and under the said Rules the right of the Officers’ to go on strike in pursuance of their demands is recognised.
The Counsel for the Petitioner also submitted that the dispute not being an industrial dispute, the conciliation officer had no jurisdiction to issue the impugned notice. “Federal Bank says pursuant to Labour Commissioner issuing conciliation notice, there is a conciliation, therefore you cannot go on strike. But when the conciliation officer has no jurisdiction in respect of the alleged industrial dispute, the question of 22(1)(a) does not arise. Therefore, I can go on strike, there is no valid conciliation.” Sr. Adv. Chidambaram argued.
“This interference by the conciliation officer must be stayed, he has not jurisdiction to interfere in this matter. There can be no valid conciliation in respect of an employer. Let that be stayed and whatever suggestion your Lordship makes we shall certainly abide by it.“ the counsel for the Petitioner submitted.
The Petitioner also argued that the Labour Commissioner had not explained to the Court why it has the jurisdiction to issue the conciliation notice. “It is not for the bank to say R1 has jurisdiction, it is for the R1 (Regional Labour Commissioner) to come and say he has the jurisdiction”, he argued.
The Court issued notice to the Regional Labour Commissioner and posted to matter for further consideration on 20th June.
Case Title: Federal Bank Officers Association, Vs The Regional Labour Commissioner (Central)