Special Correspondent

Organisations of manual workers have challenged it

“Registration of unorganised labour only through Revenue Department”

G.O. infringed on the fundamental rights of registered trade unions: petitioners

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Wednesday ordered status quo on an order passed by the government for executing the work of registration of unorganised labour, verification and distribution of welfare assistance only through the Revenue Department.

Admitting petitions, Justice A. Kulasekaran ordered notice returnable in four weeks.

Various organisations of manual workers have challenged the G.O. dated March 4, 2008 issued by the Labour and Employment Department, stating that it was contrary to the Tamil Nadu Manual Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Work) Act, 1982.

As per the G.O., the 14 welfare boards for manual workers would continue to function under the control of the Labour and Employment Department and the department would supervise the welfare schemes. Registration and distribution of welfare schemes would be done by the district administration in all districts. Necessary funds to the district administration would have to be allocated from the welfare boards funds. (As per the order, the new procedure will come into effect from April 1, 2008.)

The petitioners submitted that the G.O. infringed on the fundamental rights of registered trade unions in rendering their services to labourers. The petitioners submitted that when the government established a board and delegated certain powers and functions to it, transferring the powers to another department was arbitrary, violative of natural justice and unconstitutional. If the funds towards welfare of manual workers were directed to the district administration, the district administration may utilise the same for other purposes. Also, the Revenue Department staff would be overburdened with work and ultimately the beneficiaries would suffer.

The petitioners prayed the court to quash the G.O. as illegal and arbitrary. The interim prayer was to grant a stay of the operation of the order.