KOCHI: The Kerala High Court on Thursday directed the state police chief to ensure that the willing employees of Muthoot Finance Limited’s various branches in Kottayam and Ernakulam were allowed entry into the branch offices and that no obstruction was caused to the smooth functioning of these branches.
A Division Bench comprising Justice K Vinod Chandran and Justice VG Arun issued the order on a petition filed by KR Bijimon, chief general manager, Muthoot Chambers, Banerjee Road, Ernakulam, and managers of nine branch offices in Ernakulam and Kottayam districts seeking police protection for running the offices.
The court also noted that the petitioners were willing to work in their respective branches. Counsel for the petitioners V Sajith Kumar submitted that the dispute between the trade union and management is not a ground to object to the right of the petitioners to earn their livelihood through employment.
No action on complaints
The counsel said that the right to strike does not involve the right to obstruct employees willing to work. Despite lodging complaints with the police, no action had been taken to provide police protection.
Members of the Non-banking and Private Finance Employees’ Association affiliated to CITU and the state unit of CPM’s trade union were preventing petitioners from entering their offices by use of force, the petition said.
Though only around 40 employees were on strike, many hired head-load workers and auto drivers were in front of the strike. They had been threatening and using filthy language against the petitioners and obstructing them from taking up their job, it said. The management had already closed down 15 branches affected by the strike by extending termination benefits to the employees.
In fact, the employees were getting smart pay and other perks comparable to any public sector undertaking. The average business of branches outside the state was double the volumes of the Kerala branches.
If the branches were shifted outside the state due to the strike, the petitioners would lose their jobs, it said. When the petition came up for hearing, the State Attorney submitted that the Muthoot Finance management was not coming forward for any conciliatory talks.