Punchi Nona v. Padumasena and Others (Ismail, J.)
THE SUPERINTENDENT OF SIRI KANDURA ESTATEAND ANOTHER
LANKA ESTATE WORKERS UNION
COURT OF APPEALH. W. SENANAYAKE, J.
C.A. NO. 139/85.
LT. NO. KT/18/5398.
Industrial Dispute – Wages Board – Claim to be paid as carpenter on rubberplantation.
All workmen on a rubber plantation of over 25 acres fall within the pay ratesprescribed by the Wages Board for the Rubber Growing and Manufacturing TradeRegulations except specified excepted categories. A carpenter or mason doesnot fall within the excepted categories and cannot claim wages prescribed forBuilding Trades.
Where a workman claiming to be a carpenter refuses to accept alternative work,he must be deemed to have vacated post.
APPEAL from decision of the President of the Labour Tribunal.
S.M. Fernando for appellant.
S. Sinnathamby for respondent.
Cur. adv. vuit
Sri Lanka Law Reports
 2 Sri L.R.
This is an appeal from the order of the learned President dated7.3.85 where he held the termination was unjustified and ordered theEmptoyers-respondents to pay back wages in a sum of Rs. 16,153/80and to reinstate the worker from 21.3.85. The learned President hascomputed the amount on the basis of not the actual wages paid tothe workman but on the basis of what is payable under the decisionsof the Wages Board for the Building Trade to a carpenter.
The facts relevant to the application are as follows: The Union madethe application stating that the workman worked on the plantation as acarpenter from May 1980 till 9.5.83, when his services were terminatedand that he was not paid the correct wages according to the WagesBoard Ordinance and the Labour Officer had directed theSuperintendent to pay the wages according to the Building Tradesfrom August 1982. The Employer-Appellant denied the termination ofservices and stated that the workman was employed as an ordinaryfactory worker on daily pay under the Tea and Rubber Growing andManufacturing Trade. They were not in a position to employ theworkman as a carpenter under Building Trade as there was insufficientwork in the plantation to be employed as a carpenter. They wereunable to continue the workman as a carpenter and informed thatcould give him work on a contract basis if and when work wasavailable. They were not prepared to pay the wages according to theWages stipulated under the Wages Board decisions for BuildingTrades. The workman kept away from work on his own accord witheffect from 5.5.83. They moved in the circumstances to have theapplication dismissed.
The learned Counsel for the appellants submitted that the learnedPresident erred in law when he held that the workman was entitled tothe wages as in terms of the Wages Board decision in terms of theBuilding Trades. His only submission was that the workman was anemployee who came within the decision of the Rubber Growing andManufacturing Trade.
He submitted that the workman was employed on the Plantationwho came within the decision of the wages for the Rubber Growingand Manufacturing Trade, namely, “constructing, repairing and
CA The Superintendent of Siri Kandura Estate and Another v. Lanka Estate
Workers Union (Senanayake, J.)125
maintaining roads and buildings” the wages for all workers employedis the same irrespective of the nature of the work done by every suchworker. The following workers are excluded "Rubber-maker, EngineDriver, lorry and van driver, mechanic, clerk, conductor, kanakapulle,storekeeper, dispenser, midwife, bungalow servant, dhoby, barber,teacher and ward-attendant” and the work done by a mason orcarpenter is not excluded and according to the description of BuildingTrades it would cover only, (a) work in connection with the maintenancerepair or alteration carried on at or near the site of the building.
The Wages Board for the Rubber Growing and ManufacturingTrade regulations apply for Rubber lands over 25 acres in extent andaccording to (F) those engaged in "Construction, repairing andmaintaining roads and building” The learned Counsel submitted thatthe learned President erred when he considered the workman wasdoing the work of a carpenter and mason that he should be paid therates in the Building Trade. There is force in his submission. All estateBungalows, Factories, and linerooms have to be maintained. Theevidence clearly indicates that the workman was engaged in variousrepair works, replacing and maintaining doors and windows and theceiling and repairing the roof work and incidental work connected tothe Rubber and Tea factory. They do not fall within the exceptedcategory. The workman did not fall within the description of theBuilding Trade.
The Learned Counsel for the respondent submitted that there wasno evidence that the land was over 25 acres and this was a rubberland. The Court must presume that State Plantation Corporation donot manage Estates that are less than 25 acres and furthermore therewas evidence that this estate consisted more than three divisions andthere were over 5 Bungalows and 15 line rooms and there was aRubber Factory and a Tea Factory. In the circumstances the Court onthe evidence could come to the conclusion that this was a land whichwas over 25 acres in extent, though there was no evidence ofspecific extent by any witness regarding the extent of the land. Theworkman had refused to accept alternative work. In my view therebyhe has vacated post. I am of the view that the learned President haserred in law. In the circumstances I set aside his order and allow theappeal with costs fixed at Rs. 250/-.
Order of Labour Tribunal set aside.
THE SUPERINTENDENT OF SIRI KANDURA ESTATE AND ANOTHER V LANKA ESTATE WORKER