The Madras High Court on Wednesday dismissed a petition by the DMK-affiliated Labour Progressive Federation (LPF) seeking a direction to State Transport Corporations not to entertain any trade union, except the federation, for talks on workers' grievances.

In his petition, Shanmugam, the federation's general secretary, stated that the LPF was the only union with the largest membership of transport workers. As per a High Court direction, an election was held in 2010. The federation emerged victorious securing the highest number of votes. By a G.O. of December last year, recognition was accorded to it to take part in negotiations for all purposes.

After the AIADMK assumed office in the State in May this year, transport corporations indulged in unfair labour practice and effected mass transfers. Members of the federation were victimised. The action of the authorities in calling all trade unions for a meeting in August this year was illegal.

Justice K. Chandru said that the petitioner union having enjoyed patronage earlier would also be at the receiving end when its party lost power. The only way to remove such vagaries and stop political patronage was to make institutional reforms in industrial relations, “instead of enjoying such privileges while in power and lamenting later when such political power is lost.” The petitioner's prayer to declare it as the sole bargaining agent just because it got elected through a secret ballot could not be countenanced without there being a law for it in the State. Ultimately, it was for the State legislature to make a law on the subject relating to trade union recognition.

In the absence of any legal or enforceable right on the part of the petitioner, the prayer could not be countenanced.