The Madras High Court bench in Madurai ordered reinstatement of 85 dismissed workers of Rajapalayam Municipality in eight weeks.

Dismissing a petition filed by Commissioner of Rajapalayam Municipality challenging an order of Labour Court directing to reinstate them with back wages yesterday, Justice K Chandru said “economic difficulties pleaded by the Municipality was disproved on the very next day when it engaged a private contractor and outsourced the works at substantial expenses.” The Judge also directed the Municipality to pay Rs 2,000 to each of the workers towards legal costs.

The Sanitary workers were appointed on a consolidated pay in 1989. They were given a term appointment and it was renewed on yearly basis. They went on strike in 2002 demanding regularisation and provision of necessary materials for carrying out their duty and also to fill up the vacancies.

Though the strike was called off, they were discharged from service.

The workers approached the labour court against the dismissal, which ordered that the decision by Municipality was unilateral and there was no order of the state Government or the Director of Municipal Administration to terminate their services.

In place of unfilled vacancies, the Municipality had outsourced the work to private contractors and. The labour court ordered that the workers be reinstated with back wages.

The Municipality filed a petition in the High court bench here seeking to set aside the order of the Labour court.

Upholding the order of the Labour Court, Justice Chandru said in the absence of any specific misconduct attributed to the workmen, no fault can be found with the impugned award passed by the Labour Court. Terminating the service of workmen, who had worked for more than a decade and outsourcing work cannot be countenanced by the court.

Before the deciding the case, as an interim arrangement, the Court had directed the Municipality to deposit Rs 25,000 with Labour Court in respect of each worker.

The Judge said the workmen were entitled to withdraw amount in the Labour Court and also claim balance amount from the Municipality.

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