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NEW DELHI: The Surpeme Court today warned workers cannot be exploited by employers taking advantage of the globalisation and liberalisation process in the country.
A bench of justices Markandeya Katju and C K Prasad said employers cannot exploit the workers by claiming that they were working under a contractor and deny them the rightful labour benefits like wages and perks.
"This court cannot countenance such practices any more. Globalisation/liberalisation in the name of growth cannot be at the human cost of exploitation of workers.
"The Labour court has held that, in fact, the concerned workmen were working under the orders of the officers of the appellant and were being paid Rs 70 per day while the workmen/employees of the contractor were paid Rs. 56/- per day," the apex court said.
The apex court made the remarks while dismissing the appeal by Bhilwara Dugd Utpadak Sahakari Ltd, Rajasthan, challenging the concurrent findings of the labour and the high court which had held that the employer was indulging in "subterfuge" by resorting to discriminatory wage structures between two class of employees even though they belonged to the same firm.
"This appeal reveals the unfortunate state of affairs prevailing in the field of labour relations in our country. In order to avoid their liability under various labour statutes, employers are very often resorting to subterfuge by trying to show that their employees are, in fact, the employees of a contractor.
" It is high time that this subterfuge must come to an end. Labour statutes were meant to protect the employees/workmen because it was realised that the employers and the employees are not on an equal bargaining position. Hence, protection of employees was required so that they may not be exploited, " the bench said.
The apex court said this technique was being adopted by some employers in recent years in order to deny the rights of the workmen under various labour statutes by showing that the concerned workmen are not their employees but are the employees/workmen of a contractor or that they are merely daily wage or short term or casual employees when in fact they are doing the work of regular employees.
Hence, it dismissed the appeal.