KOCHI: In a big relief to the retired employees of Fertilizers and Chemicals Travancore (FACT) in their long-pending demand of payment of arrears of 1997 pay revision, a single bench of the Kerala High Court has directed the Union Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers to issue ‘appropriate order/proceedings’ permitting the company to honour the commitments under the wage revision.
The order directed the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers to permit FACT to pay the arrears of 1997 pay revision by discarding the rider of making profit consecutively for three years.
“...the ministry concerned should be asked to look into this matter within a specified time frame, so that the petitioners may be in a position to obtain their benefits, to the extent they are entitled, without any further avoidable delay,” the order, dated February 21, said.
When a high-level committee revised the pay allowances of the executives, employees and workmen of various PSUs, including FACT, and gave revision, effective from January 1, 1997, a specific prescription was made that in respect of the companies and PSUs, which are not run profitably, the benefits of this pay revision would stand deferred until such time as it attains profitability.
The petitioners, who are retired officers of FACT, said they were not benefited by the revision, which ought to have come into effect on January 1, 1997, on account of the fact FACT did not become profitable until the date all of them retired from service.
In the year 2001, the Ministry issued presidential directives, whereby wage revision was permitted to be put into operation but only with effect from July 1, 2001.
“We notice that this was allowed consequent to a request made by FACT, showing certain calculations they had projected and also by restraining/withdrawing certain perks hitherto being paid to the employees and executives, thus assuring the Ministry they would obtain sufficient financial capacity to suffer the burden caused by the implementation of the wage revision. Unfortunately, since all the writ petitioners had retired by then, they obtained no benefit out of this,” it was held.
Interestingly, even when FACT kept on insisting they are still in financial distress, it appears they voluntarily implemented the subsequent wage revision that came into force with effect from January 1, 2007, thereby suffering a large burden benefiting the existing employees and workmen.
“This is where the real pinch starts; because if FACT had not implemented the earlier wage revision, solely on account of financial debilitation, we fail to understand how they could have implemented a subsequent wage revision, without any reservation. This is pertinent because even though the subsequent wage revision is dated August 14, 2008, all the arrears with effect from August 1, 2008, are reported to have been paid by FACT to existing workers,” the order said.