CHENNAI: Will the IT professionals who sit in AC offices and do the computer coding be really termed as workmen? A labour court in the city, while reinstating an employee of the HCL Technologies Limited, has ruled that they are .
The HCL’s counsel argued that the sacked employee, K Ramesha, is not a ‘workman’ and hence, he will not come under the purview of the Industrial Disputes (ID) Act, which covers most of the manufacturing sector and other establishments. Moreover, he was in the supervisory cadre, drawing more than `10,000 per month as salary, the counsel cited.
But the first additional labour court judge S Nambirajan, in his order on May 4, pointed to the plain interpretation of a clause in the ID Act, that any person employed in any industry to do any manual, skilled, unskilled, technical, operational, clerical or supervisory work for hire or reward is a ‘workman’.
“It cannot be denied that the job of an engineer in a software company involves skills and technical knowledge. Therefore, it can be easily concluded that the job of a software engineer can be termed as skilled or technical one,” said I Additional Labour Court presiding officer S Nambirajan.
The company, justifying the termination of employment of Ramesha, has submitted that despite the fact that he was very good at his job initially, his efficiency, conduct, attitude and performance deteriorated gradually and was removed from service after giving several opportunities to improve.
Rejecting the counsel’s submissions, the judge observed that while the worker had proved with documentary evidence that he was not in the supervisory cadre, the management had failed to do so. Similarly, management failed to substantiate its claim that the applicant had voluntarily opted for the scheme of ‘separation from service’, whereas the applicant had produced the order of termination.
The company has not produced any evidence to show that the failure to improve the performance or to measure up to the expectations or the standing orders, would amount to an act of misconduct. It is not known whether the company has any service rules and regulations and it has not produced any materials to show what acts constitute misconduct. In Clause 6 of the appointment order, it is stated that the service of the petitioner can be terminated by giving 30 days notice or by payment of one month’s salary in lieu of notice without assigning any reasons. But the appointment order of the company does not contain any provision to show that failure to improve the performance would result in dismissal.
The firm was directed to reinstate the applicant.