Nagpur: In a major jolt to leading media publication Lokmat Group, the Industrial Tribunal has discarded the group’s newly appointed Union office-bearers, while upholding the formerly formed body. The decision came in the light of the fact that most of the present office bearers were not even union members in the past.
The Tribunal passed the ruling while hearing the petition filed by the members and office-bearers of previous union, many of whom were sacked in 2013 for their consistent demands including implementation of awards (pay commission), regularization of contractual employees and slew of other issues. The decision came as big respite for the old union office-bearers as they continue to exist in the body after the Tribunal’s decision terming the new body as invalid and unjust.
Union’s legal advisor Advocate S D Thakur told Nagpur Today that the copy of the order is yet to be received; however, the decision came in favour of the old union members. He said that the Lokmat Management had consciously picked up selected favorites to assign them the key post after dissolving the former body, and also deliberately tried to withdraw court cases filed by earlier union. “These cases were mostly for the larger benefit of the employees,” Thakur added.
The Tribunal had asked classification of workers according to the awards which the Lokmat Management has not submitted till date, Thakur informed. He said that it all started in 2013 when the then office bearers led by the Union’s Nagpur branch President Sanjay Patil opened the branches in Akola and Goa. This move did go down well Lokmat management. The fire got the fuel when the Lokmat’s personal manager Balaji Muley dismissed Goa branch President Rajesh Inmulwar on November 12, 2013. On the same day, the Union members dashed letter to management to reinstate Inmulwar and warned of agitation if the demand was not met with. On November 15, 2013 the members had a meeting with Rishi Darda who insisted on withdrawing all the cases regarding awards and other benefits to the employees. However, the members refused to step back, following which on November 21, 2013 a total of 61 agitating members were sacked across various editions of Lokmat including Nagpur.
Meanwhile, the Management dissolved the union and formed new body with their pets including city chief of Nagpur Lokmat Gajanan Janbhor, Executive Editors, Associative Editors, Managers, and other senior officials. Janbhor was made the President and the other senior officials of Lokmat Group the other office-bearers. The newly self elected office-bearers removed the previous office-bearers under the pretext of unruly behavior or un-parliamentary behavior.
Thakur said that the owners and the management of Lokmat Group had left no stones unturned to deter the workers. They have been taking adjournments and later dates in the hope that the workers will desert their fight.
Thakur said that Lokmat Shramik Sanghatna (union) has been fighting for proper gradation and the right implementation of the recommendations of each commission that sits over the salaries of media houses for the last 12 years. However, till date, the owners and authorities of Lokmat Group like most media house had either not paid according to the recommendations or have paid only 60% of the recommended salaries. I But since the original Union itself was dissolved, their demands could not get ahead.
These owners and authorities of Lokmat Group had taken the case right till the Supreme Court. However, the Supreme Court found the demands of the workers of Lokmat Shramik Sanghatna justified and their Trade Union right. The Supreme Court then sent directives to the Industrial Tribunal.
In the decision delivered by Justice K G Khobragade of Industrial Court not only gave legal standing to the Lokmat Shramik Sanghatna but also ordered that the previous or original office-bearers be reinstated to their positions in Lokmat Shramik Sanghatna and the present office-bearers with City Chief of Lokmat Gajanan Janbhor as President be dissolved with immediate effect.
Case to get new impetus
With the Industrial Court giving legal stand to Lokmat Shramik Sanghatna and their original office-bearers getting back their positions their case will now get a fresh impetus and with Advocate S D Thakur fighting their case, he is sure that the workers will definitely win the case. If the employees or workers win the case, the salary of the employees will be graded and a proper implementation of the Pay Commissions will have to be made by the owners of the media houses.