The Madras High Court has directed the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) to pay wages to its contract workers, numbering about 4,500, by the 15th of every month. In future, the BSNL shall ensure that, whatever the workers or employees or contract employees are engaged through the contractors, the 30 day wage bill shall be claimed by the BSNL from such contractor on or before the 5th day of next calendar month, the court said.
On receipt of the bill, the workers shall be identified and the amount shall be quantified and accepted within five days thereafter and at any cost on or before the 15th of the next English calendar month, the previous month’s 30 days bill for each of the employees shall be settled directly to the employees/workers.
Within the said time, if the BSNL has not disbursed the wage or salary, that amount would carry an interest of 6 per cent per annum for any such belated payment, Justice R Suresh Kumar said in a recent order.
The judge was disposing of a batch of writ petitions from the contract workers and their unions praying for a direction to the BSNL to pay the salary due to them from January 2019 and direct the contractors to contribute to the EPF and ESI and pay bonus for 2018-19.
As regards payment of bonus, the judge said that it is open to the workers or the workers union to agitate the same with BSNL and the contractors in the manner known to law and if such claim comes from the workers union, the same shall be resolved in accordance with law by the company by mutual negotiation after verifying the contract conditions.
If the issue becomes unresolvable, it can be referred to the Labour Commissioner for adjudication, the judge said.
Insofar as the statutory dues are concerned, the judge accepted the plea made by BSNL and permitted it to deduct the dues payable by these contractors to various authorities like EPF, ESI and GST and these dues can be paid directly to those statutory authorities.