Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: Deprecating Air India’s “unfair labour practice” of engaging unskilled workers through the employment exchange and then imposing an “artificial break” in their service every 90 days to avoid regularisation of services, the Madras High Court has directed the management to absorb the workers.

A Division Bench, comprising Justices Dharmarao Elipe and S. Palanivelu, passing orders on a batch of writ petitions and appeals involving 13 workers, said: “This practice adopted by the management, a public sector undertaking, is highly condemnable and it unquestionably amounts to unfair labour practice.”

The petitioners submitted that after their names were sponsored by the Kancheepuram district employment exchange, they were subjected to a rigorous selection process before being temporarily appointed for baggage and cargo handling and cabin cleaning works. However, after 90 days they were ousted from service.

The Bench, allowing the workers’ plea and directing the management to frame a scheme to absorb the workers within a period of six weeks, said: “When the work is permanent and perennial in nature the management, an instrumentality of the State, ought not to have resorted to retrench the people for every 90 days and appoint fresh hands or appoint the same hands after a considerable break, that too at the cost of their seniority in the employment exchanges...”