Anita Wadhawal's story: Human Rights violation by Labour & Industrial Court, and Danish Company FLSmidth
30th May, 2019, Mumbai: It seems that for nearly seven years, Indian judiciary has been struggling with one riddle, and that riddle is this: Was Anita Wadhawal a "workman", entitled to protection of the labour laws of the state? Or wasn't she? It would appear that after endless proceedings stretching from June 2012, and examining witnesses and documentary evidences, the court is still not able to decide whether she is a workman or not.
|Anita Wadhawal - |
Employee of FL Smidth, Thane, India
Labour Court, Thane, has conclusively come to the finding that she is indeed a workman, and that her employer, Danish company FLSmidth, are guilty of Unfair Labour Practices. But the company has suffered no adverse consequences. On the other hand, Anita Wadhawal has been utterly ruined. Compelled to stay out of employment in order to avoid dismissal of her plaint, she has suffered total loss of income for seven years. As the sole earning member of her family, with aged parents and a handicapped brother as dependents, Anita has watched helplessly as they languished without adequate medical assistance, and the essentials of life itself. The family had to sell their house in Dombivili in order to make ends meet. The story of her misery is unending. As the labour court predicted in its interim order in 2012, "irreparable loss" would be suffered by her if interim reliefs sought were not granted to her.
And indeed, that irreparable loss was indeed inflicted on her, and continues to be inflicted by her by the perverse orders of the Industrial Court, which refuses to accept the findings of the labour court on one singular issue: Is Anita Wadhawal a workman? Yes or No? The labour court repeatedly says yes, based upon its considered findings, but the Industrial Court still keeps remanding back the case to labour court with that very same question.
Anita Wadhawal's story has two key propositions.
Proposition no. 1: Is it possible that Labour and Industrial Court is being used for keeping the workmen in an endless loop, without employment and without salary for years, in order to prevent them from accessing the higher judiciary in their quest for justice? Is it possible that rather than being a mechanism for the protection of workmen from their employers (who are overwhelmingly more powerful), labour and industrial courts are actually a mechanism for suppressing them, in the guise of endlessly adjudicating their dispute? Are they a mechanism for sabotaging the intent of labour laws such as Maharashtra Recognition of Trade Unions Act (MRTU Act) and Prevention of Unfair Labour Practices Act (PULP Act)?
If Anita Wadhawal's experience is anything to go by, the answer to the first proposition is a resounding YES.
Proposition no. 2: Is it realistic to assume that European companies apply the same yardstick to their Indian labour force as they apply to their labour force in Europe? Is it seen that they deal fairly and humanely with their labour force in India?
If the conduct of FLSmidth in the case of Anita Wadhawal is anything to go by, the answer to the second proposition is a damning NO.
The below sequence of events shows how FLSmidth has acted in a way that is arguably dishonest, and discriminatory towards its employee Ms Anita Wadhawal, who served the company for seven years until one day in 2012, the company decided to dump her without due process. The sequence of events also shows how Labour Court and Industrial Court act together to form an endless loop -- a legal whirlpool which traps the employee and crushes the life out of her.
Watch this video:
Download & read key documents:
As you can see from these judicial pronouncements, Anita Wadhawal's human rights are languishing in the endless loop of this judicial process. Meanwhile, FLSmidth is sitting pretty, unscathed and unperturbed by the court findings of Unfair Labour Practices against it.
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