Housekeeping workmen should be considered as employees: HC

10:52 AM Mar 03, 2023 | PTI |

The High Court of Karnataka has held that housekeeping jobs are perennial in nature and the workmen should be considered as employees. It ordered the restoration of services of several housekeeping workmen of the state-owned Mysore Electrical Industries Limited (MEIL). In the year 2000, Shankar Nursery and Associated Detective & Security Services which had a contract with the company to supply these workmen terminated their contract and withdrew 66 workmen from work.


The matter reached conciliation proceedings and then the Labour Court. In 2001, the HC stayed the Labour Court order of restoring the services and sent the matter back to the lower court. In 2011, the Labour Court once again ordered that the workmen be restored to service. This was challenged by the company in the High Court. The HC judgment by Justice Suraj Govindaraj came on February 23, 2023. The company claimed that housekeeping staff involved in gardening, loading and unloading were contract labourers who did a few hours of work in a day. The HC rejected this contention and said, ”These job profiles being ones whose services are required on a day to day basis, as also for months on end. I am of the considered opinion that these jobs are perennial in nature and therefore would not be temporary as contended.”

The Court dismissed the contention of the company that the housekeeping workmen were contract labourers and upheld the order of the Labour Tribunal. Justice Suraj Govindaraj in his judgment said, ”The Tribunal has come to a right conclusion that the alleged agreement between the employer and the contractor is a sham and camouflage and the workers have been engaged for a long period of time and the instrumentality of contract workers has been used only to deprive them of their just amounts.” Ordering the restoration of the services of the workmen, the HC in its judgment said, ”The workmen belonging to respondent-Union shall be treated as employees of the petitioner. Petitioner shall regularise their services subject to availability of vacancies and in the event of there being no vacancies, as and when the vacancies arise, the petitioner shall give preference to the members of the respondent-Union, if they are found suitable by relaxing the condition as to maximum age, as also academic qualifications.”


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