Tamil Nadu

HC directs govt. to assess number of layoffs due to COVID-19

Observing that “employers cannot be allowed to make a fortune out of a misfortune,”, the Madras High Court on Thursday directed the Tamil Nadu government to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the number of employees laid off by industrial establishments without following the norms during peak COVID-19, but not reinstated after the situation improved considerably.

‘Hold consultations’

Justice M.S. Ramesh directed the Labour Welfare Secretary to assess the situation by holding consultations with the Labour Commissioner regarding the conditions of service and the increase in unemployment rate by comparing figures between the period immediately before the onset of the pandemic and after considerable relaxation of lockdown.

“As an illustration and for the sake of convenience, the number of workers on the rolls of any industrial establishment as on January 1, 2019 could be compared with the numbers that exists as on October 27, 2021 in a particular industrial establishment together with explanation of that establishment for the reduced number of workers/employees, if any,” the judge clarified in his interim order.

He also called for a preliminary report from the government by November 29. The orders were passed on a writ petition filed by Labour Liberation Front, a trade union, against Mercury Precision Products Private Limited.

One of the issues raised in the petition was the company’s failure to reinstate some workers even after relaxation of the lockdown.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and the consequential lockdown imposed by the government had resulted in loss of income to many workers/employees owing to non-employment. Equally, the employers were also facing huge monetary losses. It is true that COVID-19 had created a disaster, particularly in industries, factories and other establishments, to which the labour and industrial laws apply,” the judge wrote.

He observed, “However, post relaxation of the lockdown , this court has been witnessing many cases where the workers,laid off during the lockdown period, have not been reinstated even though business had resumed. In other words, some of the employers seem to have exploited this unprecedented situation.”

Finding that many employers had retrenched some of their workers without adhering to the labour laws, the judge lamented that the government too has not done anything to address the crisis.

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2021 6:07:47 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/hc-directs-govt-to-assess-number-of-layoffs-due-to-covid-19/article37223245.ece

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