LANKA PODU SEVA SANGAMAYAv.
CENTRAL ENGINEERING CONSULTANCY BUREAU
COURT OF APPEALSENANAYAKE, J.
C.A. 436/87L.T. 3/240-248/87L.T. 3/302/87, 319/87DECEMBER 06, 1994.
Industrial Dispute – Employment on specific project for limited period -Retrenchment.
Where workmen were employed on a temporary basis and for a specific projectfor a limited period of time and after completion of the project the workmenreferred to were found to be in excess and their services retrenched, no relief orretrenchment benefits can be granted.
Caledonian (Ceylon) Tea and Rubber Estates Limited v. Hillman 79 NLR 421.
G. G. Dendekker Machine Works Ltd. v. National Engineering Workers Union.
APPEAL from order of Labour Tribunal.
Faiz Mustapha, P.C. with Sanjeewa Jayawardena for appellant.
S.M. Fernando, P.C. with Hyacinth Fernando for respondent.
Cur. adv. vult.
This is an appeal from the order of the learned President of theLabour Tribunal dated 12.10.87 where the Tribunal dismissed theapplication of the Union without granting any relief.
The relevant facts briefly are as follows. The Union made theapplication on behalf of the workmen and stated that they wereemployed under the Respondent Bureau at Victoria Worksite aswatchers, some of them commencing employment from 1978 andsome from 1982 on an all inclusive monthly salary of Rs. 1119/-. Theyaverred that the serves were terminated without paying retrenchmentbenefits on the ground of retrenchment with effect from 31.1.87. Theyalleged that such termination was wrongful and unjust and prayedthe workmen be granted compensation for wrongful termination. TheRespondent admitted employment but they averred that the workmenwere employed on a temporary basis and for a specific project for alimited period of time and after completion of the project the workmenreferred to were found to be in excess and the services of theworkmen were retrenched. They prayed that the applications bedismissed.
The Learned Counsel submitted that the Tribunal had erred in lawin dismissing the application without granting any retrenchmentbenefits. The evidence discloses that the workmen were aware thatthey were employed on a temporary basis for a specific project for alimited time limit till the completion of the work undertaken by theRespondent. The witness called by the Union confirmed this positionbefore the Tribunal. The Learned Counsel submitted that terminationwas on the basis of excess workmen and as their services wereterminated they could be granted relief by way of retrenchmentbenefits. He relied on the decision of Caledonian (Ceylon) Tea &Rubber Estates Limited v. Hillman<1). In my view the facts of the casehas no relevance to the facts in the instant case. The case reportedin 79 N.L.R. arose from the closure of the Estate and Hillman was apermanent employee who lost his employment as a result of the saleof the Estate, but in the instant case the workmen were temporaryemployees who were employed for a completion of a particularproject and they were aware of this position when they commencedemployment. With the completion of the project during the period ofthe time they ceased to be employed. The workmen were givennotice and thereafter their services were terminated. The idea ofclosure of business does not have any application to the facts of theinstant case.
The Learned Counsel relied on certain authorities from Indian LawLabour Law Journals. He cited the case of G. G. Dendekker MachineWorks Ltd. v. National Engineering Workers Union(2) reported in the1955 Indian Labour Journal. In that case the Employer appealedagainst the order of the Industrial Tribunal, where the Appellate Courtheld that retrenchment relief is to be paid on the date of retrenchmentand there cannot be any reduction in the retrenchment relief by theamount of compensation. This authority has no relevance to the factsof the instant case. He also relied on Sri Raw Silk ManufacturingCompany and Their Workmen, the Hasting Jute Mills CompanyLimited at the relevant time the Company had two units or factoriesone manufactured jute goods and the other manufactured silkfabrics. By notice dated 3.3.52 the Company proposed to close thesilk factory on the ground that it was continuously running at a lossand in pursuance of the notice the workmen employed therein weredischarged from service as from that date. Where it held that theworkmen concerned have lost their employment for causes for whichneither they nor the company was responsible. In the circumstanceswe think that the workmen should get compensation as in cases ofbona fide retrenchment.
In the instant case the workmen at the commencement ofemployment was aware that the workmen were employed ontemporary basis for a limited period for a specific job which at thecompletion of the work the employment would come to an end. In thecase cited the Company or the workmen were unaware of the viabilityof the industry and the running of the factory proved to be a heavyloss; there the Company took steps to close the factory; in thesecircumstances the workmen were entitled to compensation asretrenchment benefits. This principle has no application to the facts inthe instant case.
The workmen in the instant case were fully aware of the basis ofemployment and the nature of the Respondent project which waslimited in time and also with the completion of the project his objectcame to an end.
I am of the view that in these circumstances none of the authoritiescited by the learned Counsel has any relevance or applicability to thefacts in the instant case. I do not see any merit in the submission. Ido not see any reasons to disturb the findings of the Tribunal. I affirmthe order and dismiss the appeal with costs fixed at Rs. 1000/-.