Delhi High Court restrains metro staff from going on strike, says can't hassle 25 lakh commuters

New Delhi: In a relief for Delhiites, the Delhi High Court on Friday restrained DMRC staff from going on their proposed strike from midnight over a number of demands, including pay-scale revision, saying huge inconvenience would be caused to commuters.

The Delhi government had earlier threatened to impose the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) to ensure smooth functioning of the Metro and appealed to the employees not to resort to strike.

The ESMA is imposed by authorities to ensure smooth functioning of the services when faced with a situation of strike.

But the DMRC had to approach the high court in the evening after two rounds of talks with the representatives of DMRC Staff Council failed to break the deadlock over their disputes.

The petition by the DMRC was mentioned at the residence of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal who assigned it for an urgent hearing before Justice Vipin Sanghi.
After the hearing which started around 5:30 pm, Justice Sanghi passed the ex-parte interim order holding that prima facie, the action of the metro staff does not seem to be justified or legal.

The court said Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) is running a public utility service which caters to around 25 lakh citizens of Delhi, who come largely from the middle-income group, on a daily basis and sufficient notice has not been given to the DMRC and the conciliation proceedings are still in progress.

 Delhi High Court restrains metro staff from going on strike, says cant hassle 25 lakh commuters

Representational image: Delhi Metro

DMRC moved the urgent petition which was mentioned at the residence of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal who assigned it for hearing before Justice Sanghi.

"... Prima facie, the action of the respondents (employees) does not appear to be justified or legal since sufficient notice has not been given to the petitioner and the conciliation proceedings are still in progress, I am inclined to grant ad-interim relief as sought in the application. Accordingly, the employees are restrained from going on strike on June 30 or till further orders in the matter," the judge, who heard the matter for around 30 minutes, said in a five-page order.

The court issued notice to general secretary (staff council) and DMRC employees union for 6 July on DMRC's plea which sought direction to restrain the employees from resorting to strike as per their notices of 18 and 20 June.

DMRC, represented through advocate Kunal Sharma, challenged three notices given by DMRC employees union and DMRC staff council of 14, 18 and 20 June respectively.

The court said that huge inconvenience would be caused to commuters if the metro staff go on strike. The DMRC's counsel showed correspondence between the corporation and the employees and minutes of meetings held between its representatives and the DMRC staff council which showed that a settlement was arrived at between them on 23 July last year.

The court said it appeared that there were disputes regarding implementation of the terms of the settlement and it is the claim of the employees that the terms of the settlement have not been fully implemented till date.

However, the position taken by DMRC appeared that the staff council was raising further demand which according to it was unjustified.

The court said that from the notices, it appeared that the employees have threatened that in case the settlement is not implemented, the "staff will not go to home from the night of 29 June and shutdown/ lockout/ tool down will be done with effect from 30 June".

DMRC's counsel submitted that the issue of implementation of the settlement was pending before the Regional Labour Commissioner and the proceedings are currently in progress. However, the staff threatened to go on strike from tomorrow, he said.

The counsel also said that DMRC was ready and willing to resolve the disputes with the employees to fully implement the settlement arrived at last July.

"DMRC, in right earnest, wishes to resolve all outstanding issues with the staff," the counsel said. The total liability of DMRC till date is Rs 38,685.03 crore.

There are nearly 12,000 people employed with the Delhi Metro, with the non-executive staffers accounting for about 9,000.

Some of the non-executive staff of the DMRC have been demonstrating at a few metro stations, including the Yamuna Bank and Shahdara, since 19 June in support of their eight-point demand.

The non-executive workforce includes train operators, station controllers, operations and maintenance staff and technicians, and form a major component in the operation of the rapid rail network.

The protest is over a number of issues, including pay-scale revision, modification of the DMRC Staff Council as an employees union, proper guidelines for sacking of an employee and that too in extreme conditions.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had tweeted in the day, "Whereas all genuine demands of Metro employees shud be met, strike wud cause inconvenience to lakhs of people. Strike shud not take place. Whereas govt imposing ESMA as last resort, I wud urge employees to not resort to strike (sic)."

His deputy Manish Sisodia had tweeted, "Have called an urgent meeting of Metro officers to discuss the demands of employees. Also, file related to ESMA being sent for concurrence of Hon L-G."

"Have received instructions from Hon CM @ArvindKejriwal that all the genuine demands of the Metro employees should be met to keep them happy for smooth functioning of Delhi Metro. Also if needed ESMA be imposed to prevent Metro strike," he had tweeted.

Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot had asked the DMRC to resolve the issues of its non-executive employees who have threatened to go on a strike.

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Updated Date: Jun 29, 2018 22:31:21 IST