Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Thursday asked Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to pay Rs 11,000 as ex-gratia for Diwali to each of its 40,000 employees who had struck work for two days last year.
Hearing a BMC appeal against the single judge order of the HC asking the civic body to pay ex-gratia amounting to about Rs 50 crore, a bench of Justices AM Khanvilkar and Mridula Bhatkar, however, stayed their order for four weeks to enable the corporation to move the Supreme Court.
The Bench asked the workers to give an undertaking that if the final order was delivered in favour of the civic body, they would return the bonus amount along with interest.
On September 19 and 20, 2011, BMC employees had gone on a strike to protest non-implementation of Sixth Pay Commission recommendations. The strike call was given by Municipal Mazdoor Union, Municipal Engineers` Union and Municipal Karmachari Kamgaar Sena.
The municipal employees did so despite an Industrial Tribunal`s ruling of September 17 prohibiting them from striking work. Subsequently, BMC decided not to pay Diwali bonus to the employees who had struck work. Aggrieved, the unions moved the Industrial Tribunal which, on April 17, 2012, asked the civic body to pay the bonus.
The BMC, India`s largest civic body whose annual budget is over Rs 20,000 crore, challenged the Tribunal`s order in the High Court which confirmed it. The civic body then filed an appeal before a Division Bench which was heard today.
Municipal Mazdoor union, led by NCP leader Sharad Rao, submitted before the HC that the strike was not illegal and workers were only exercising their constitutional right.
The single judge had agreed with the submission and directed the BMC to pay Rs 11,000 Diwali bonus to every worker along with interest of 12 percent. The court had earlier suggested the corporation and its employees to arrive at a compromise but that did not work out.