Four States - Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal are directed by the Supreme Court on Wednesday to make an interim payment of approximately INR 127 crores to tea garden workers. These workers are entitled to get their dues unpaid for more than 15 years. The bench formed by Justice S.A. Bobde and Justice L.N. Rao directed such payment on a contempt petition filed by the International Union of Food Association and the Paschim Banga Khet Majdoor Samity.
Senior advocate Colin Gonzalves, during the hearing, asserted that though the Court directed to pay the dues, still the order was not complied with, thus it amounts to contempt of court. It has been pointed out that INR 249 crores, 27 Crores, 70 crores and 30 crores are supposed to be paid by Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal respectively. The states are directed to pay approximately half of such dues within 60 days.
Employers not paying the employees, what are the remedies available to the employees in such situation, let us check those:
- If there is an arbitration clause in the employment contract, one can first try to resolve the matter through that.
- The Department of Labour allows employees bring a lawsuit to recover the unpaid wages. That can be a private lawsuit.
- An employee can file a complaint with the labour office - Office of Labour Commission, Ministry of Labour and Employment and International Labour Organization; to serve the employer with a legal notice, seek enforcement based on clauses of the agreement and initiate civil suit seeking specific performance of the contract as well as damages.
- A person can file a summary suit under the Code of Civil Procedure.
- The laws regulating the situations are as follows - Payment of Wages Act 1936, Industrial Disputes Act 1947 and Company Act 2013.
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