The Indian Oxygen Limited Vs. Workmen
& Ors  INSC 350 (6 December 1962)
The appellant contended that though the wage
scales were fixed in 1949, as in 1957, the question of revision of wage scales
had been brought before another Tribunal which refused revision except in the
case of Mazdoors 1 and 2, revision ought not to have been allowed and that the
Tribunal had compared the wage scales of the appellant with those-with which
they were not comparable and further that the Tribunal 737 had itself made some
obvious mistakes which were later corrected, and that therefore the wage scales
fixed by the Tribunal required review. As to classification it was contended
that the Tribunal should have itself classified the workmen and not left this
question to the appellant as it would lead to further disputes.
Held, that on the facts of the case there was
need for revision of wage scales and that substantially the comparison made was
with engineering concerns, on which the appellant itself bad relied. Though in
some cases higher scales had been given to the workmen, the wage scales fixed
by the Tribunal were justified.
Held, further, that though there were some
slips in matters of detail in the award of the tribunal which had been
rectified by it except for correcting one obvious slip which it had failed to
correct the Award of the Tribunal could not be said to be vitiated.
Held, also, that classification is of two
kinds (1) classification of jobs and (2) fitting of existing staff into the
various classified jobs. The first classification is a matter for the Tribunal
whereas the second kind generally speaking may appropriately be left to the
employer to be done in consultation with the Union, and it is only a disputed
case which may be referred, it necessary, to the Tribunal.
Novex Dry Cleaners v. Its Workmen,  1
L.L.J. 271 and French Motor Car Co. Ltd. v. Workmen,  Supp. 2 S.C.R.
16, referred to.
As the Tribunal had directed only the second
type of classification to be done by the appellant in consultation with the
Union, the direction Was not erroneous.
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION : Civil Appeal
No. 528 of 1962.
Appeal by special leave from the Award dated
March 10, 1962, of the Industrial Tribunal, Maharashtra in Reference No. (IT)
114 of 1961.
M.C. Setalvad, Attorney-General of India,
Purushottam Tricumdas, J.B. Dadachanji, O.C. Mathur and Ravinder Narain, for
738 C L. Dudhia, Yatik Rehman and K. L. Hathi,
for respondents Nos. 1 and 2.
1962. December 6. The judgment of the Court
was delivered by WANCHOO, J.-This is an appeal by special leave from theaward
of the Industrial Tribunal, Maharashtra ina dispute between the appellant
company and its workmen. The reference was on six matters, namely, (i) wage
scales, (ii) adjustments, (iii) increments,: (iv) classification, (v)
designation of certain workmen, 'and (vi) merger of dearness allowance. The
tribunal rejected the demands relating to increments and merger of dearness
allowance. With respect to the other four matters referred to it, the tribunal
fixed revised scales of wages and provided for the manner in which adjustments
would be made. As to classification, the tribunal ordered that the employees would
be classified by the appellant after consulting both the unions in an advisory
capacity. It also changed the designation of plant-attendants to
The present appeal by the appellant-company
is directed against two matters dealt with in the award, namely, (i) wage
scales and (ii) classification. The appellant contends that the tribunal made a
mistake' when it held that wage scales required reconsideration, particularly
as this matter had been considered by another tribunal in 1957 and that
tribunal had decided to keep the previously existing scales which were in force
since 1949 except in the case of Mazdoor I and' Mazdoor II. It is further
contended that the tribunal was not Justified in comparing wage-scales in
concerns which were clearly not comparable with the appellant-company.
Further it is' pointed out that the tribunal
made obvious mistakes in the award some of which it later corrected and this
clearly shows that the matter was not given 739 that consideration by the
tribunal which it deserved. As to classification, it has been urged that the.
tribunal should not have left the question of classification to the
appellant-company as that would lead to endless disputes between the appellant
and its workmen.
We are of opinion that there is no force in any
of these contentions. There is no doubt that wage scales which were revised by
the tribunal were fixed as far back as1949.
Obviously, therefore, there would be a clear
case :for, revision of wage-scales in 1962, for it is not, and cannot be,
disputed that there has been considerable change in circumstances between 1949
and 1962. But it is urged on behalf of the appellant-company that though wage
scales, which have been revised, under the present award, were fixed in 1949,
they came up for revision before another tribunal in 1957. The then tribunal
was of opinion that the scales of pay of most of the categories of workmen were
quite satisfactory and proceeded only to revise the scales of pay of Mazdoor I
and Mazdoor II. It is therefore. urged that the fact that ,the existing scales
which have been revised under the award were fixed in 1949 loses all importance
because they came up for reconsideration in 1957, and the then tribunal thought
that no case had been made out,for their revision. Therefore, the argument is
that unless there is a change in circumstances after 1957, there would be no
reason to revise the wage-scales as has been done by the tribunal. But as the
tribunal has pointed out, there has been an increase in the cost of living even
It has further pointed that dearness
allowance at the best, may neutralise the increase in the cost of living fully
in the, case of workmen drawing a basic wage of Rs.30/-; it does not neutralise
the increase in the cost. of living in the case of those drawing above the
minimum wage, and as the wage increases the neutralisation affected by dearness
allowance becomes,less and less. Therefore, when cost of living has 740 gone up
since 1957, a case has been made out for revising wage scales in 1962. The
tribunal; has further pointed out that there have been since 1949 a large
number of awards and agreements in prosperous concerns like the
appellant-company wherein higher wages have been fixed. It may be that the
wage-scales fixed in the appellant-company in 1949 were on the high side as
compared to other concerns of the same standing in that region. But if, as
pointed out by the tribunal, the other concerns are now giving higher wages
than they were giving in 1949 due either to agreements or to awards,
wage-scales fixed in the appellant-company should also be revised in order to
maintain' it in the same leading position as it apparently held in 1949. In
this connection our attention was drawn to a number of charts filed on behalf
of the appellant comparing the total wage packet of the appellant-company as it
stands after revision with such' other concerns as the appellant considered
These charts in our opinion as prepared do
not depict the correct position because the dearness allowance payable by the
appellant-company is on a different basis from the dearness allowance payable
in the concerns, which appear in these charts. The appellant-company apparently
pays dearness allowance at the old textile scale but for all days in the month
while the other companies which have been taken for comparison pay the revised
textile scale which is apparently higher than the old textile scale for all
days in the month which the appellant is paying. So, the comparison made in
these charts is not very helpful in showing that the revised wage scales have
made such changes in the wage structure in the appellant company as to put it
completely out of line with comparable concerns. It appears to us that with the
changes made in the wage scales all that has happened is that the
appellant-company still maintains a lead in the matter of total wage packet as
against the comparable concerns in the same way 741 as it did: in, 1949. In the
circumstances, we agree with the tribunal that a case had been made out for
revising the wage scales even though in 1957 the then tribunal did not think it
necessary to make any change in the wage-scales prevailing, in' this company
except in the case of Mazdoor I and Mazdoor II.
As, to the contention that the tribunal
compared the appellant-company with concerns which were really not comparable,
it may be mentioned that at present the appellant is the only company of its
kind carrying on business in Bombay. There was thus no comparable concern in
its own line of business in that region. Therefore, the tribunal would be
justified in looking for comparison at concerns nearly similar to the
appellant. The appellant also conceded, and we think rightly, that the nearest
industry for purposes of comparison with the appellant company was the
engineering industry. The workmen on the other hand wanted that the
appellant-company should be compared with the oil refineries-and Greaves Cotton
and Company Limited, Imperial Tobacco Limited, Associated Cement Companies
Limited and some other concerns. The tribunal held that the oil refineries
stood in a class by themselves.
It also held that Greaves Cotton and Company
Limited was a managing agency concern and was therefore not comparable.
It also refused to compare the
appellant-company with the Associated Cement Companies on the ground that it
had no factory in Bombay but only its head office. The tribunal also was not
prepared to compare the appellant company with the Imperial Tobacco Company
which was in an altogether different line of business. The tribunal was
prepared to compare the appellant with the engineering firms which the
appellant itself relied on except one concern which was considered by the
tribunal to be too small. It seems to us therefore that for the purpose of
comparison the tribunal rightly took into account practically 742 the companies
suggested by the appellant. The tribunal also mentioned some other companies
which were indicated on behalf of the workmen, for example, the Indian Cable
Company Limited, and the Automobile Products. These also cannot be said,, to be
non-comparable though the are not quite as near the appellant-company as they
engineering concerns which the appellant-,company relied on. In the main,
however, it appears that the tribunal relied on the engineering concerns on
which the appellant-company relied, though, as already indicated, it has given
a slightly higher scale in some cases to the workmen of the appellant company
apparently in view of the fact that the appellant company was always a leading
employer in the matter of wage-scales. We are therefore of opinion that the
tribunal cannot be said to have made any mistake in the matter of taking into
account comparable concerns.
Then our attention was drawn to a few
mistakes in the tribunals award, and it is urged that. these mistakes show that
the tribunal did not give such consideration to. the matter as was expected of
it. It may be pointed out that three of these mistakes were corrected by the
tribunal later. So far as two of these corrections are concerned, namely, (i)
carpenters, and (ii) Assistant fore-man, there appears to have been a slip
inasmuch as the tribunal reduced the maximum for these workmen which was
already prevalent, which of course it could not do. The third mistake that the
tribunal corrected was with respect to cylinder weighers.
There undoubtedly the tribunal made mistake
inasmuch as it fixed wages for cylinder weighers which 'were even lower than
Mazdoor I, though cylinder weighers always used to get more than Mazdoor I.
That mistake was also corrected by the tribunal. One more mistake has been
pointed out to us with respect to masons. In the case of masons, the grade
demanded was 743 60-5-110-7-1/2-140 while the existing scale was 60-4-100.
The tribunal revised the scale to 64-4-100-5-110.
The complaint is that the minimum awarded by the tribunal is more than the
minimum demanded by the workmen. It seems to us that this is due to a slip, and
the learned counsel for the respondents conceded that the starting pay should
be Rs.60/-. We' therefore correct this Mistake and fix the grade of masons at
60-4-100-5-110. It is clear therefore that there Were three slips by, the
tribunal and there was only one mistake with respect to cylinder weighers. That
however, does not mean that the tribunal did not bestow that attention to the
matter before it which it was expected to do. The tribunal's award appears to
be on the whole a careful one and it cannot be thrown over-board because of
these, slips. We therefore see no force in the contention of the appellant with
respect to wage scales and hold that the revised, grades introduced by the
tribunal are fair.
Turning now to classification, the contention
is that the tribunal should have made the classification itself and should not
have asked the appellant to make the classification after consulting the unions
in an advisory capacity. Reliance in this connect on is placed on a decision of
this Court in Novex Dry Cleaners v. Its Workmen (1). In that case alto there
was a question of classification and this Court pointed out that it was not a
satisfactory way of dealing with the matter to leave the question of
classification to the management in consultation with the workmen.
Classification, however, is of two kinds, namely, (i) Classification of jobs,
and (ii) fitting of existing staff into the various classified jobs. Now the
first matter, (namely, classification of jobs) if it is in dispute between
there management and the workmen should be dealt with by tribunals themselves
and the case relied on by the appellant is more of this nature, though it also
involved the question of fitting each (1) 1 L L. J. 271.
744 workmen in the various classified jobs.
In that case six categories were fixed, but apparently the functions of the
categories concerned were not defined by the tribunal.
Therefore, it was observed that the tribunal
should have described the functions' of different categories and given
indication in the award as to how different employees should be placed in what
category. That case did not lay down that the, tribunal must fix each man into
a particular classified job and that if it leaves this second kind of
classification to be done by the management in consultation with the workmen,
the award must be set aside. We may, in this connection refer to French Motor
Car Co. Ltd. v. Workmen (1), where the tribunal had left the fixation of
individual workman into particular classified jobs to the management in
consultation with the workmen and that was upheld by this Court. Generally
speaking, the fixing of individual workmen in particular classified, jobs can
best be done by the management in consultation with the union and it is only
the disputed cases which may be referred, if necessary, to the tribunal. In the
present case also, the tribunal has left it to the appellant to fix individual
workmen into the various classified jobs after consultation with the unions.
It is true that the tribunal has remarked
that some of the Mazdoor I and Mazdoor II appear to it to be doing work of
higher category but that is merely a general remark and it will be for the
appellant to classify the workmen in consultation with the unions i.e. to fix
each workman in particular classified jobs which already exist in this company
and about which there. is no dispute. In the circumstances, the tribunals
direction in the present case with reference to the second type of
classification does not suffer from any infirmity, We therefore dismiss the
appeal except with the modification with respect to masons. In the circumstances
we pass no order as to costs.
Appeal dismissed except for Slight
(1)  Supp. 2 S.C.R. 16.