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Bombay high court restrains BPCL staff from going on strike

By Kanchan Chaudhari, Mumbai:
PUBLISHED ON NOV 28, 2019 12:26 AM IST

The Bombay high court (HC) has restrained Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) employee unions from going on their proposed 24-hour strike from November 28 against the Centre’s policy to privatise several public sector undertakings.

A division bench of justices RV More and MS Karnik also restrained the unions from disrupting activities at its refinery and other establishments at Marol. BPCL had approached the HC on Friday, challenging notices given by Petroleum Workmen’s Union and six other labour unions for the strike.

Advocate Ratnakar Pai, who represented public sector undertaking , submitted that the strike was illegal. He said BPCL is a public utility service and section 22 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, prohibits strike in such an entity, especially during pendency of conciliation proceedings. He added that BPCL has initiated conciliation proceedings before the regional labour commissioner. Senior advocate Sanjay Singhvi, who represented the unions, opposed the petition saying citizens have the right to protest and the strike cannot be termed illegal when the unions have given strike notices as contemplated under the law.

Singhvi added that conciliation proceedings can be initiated only in case of an industrial dispute, but as the reason for the strike was not a dispute between the employees and the employer, it was not an industrial matter and thus there can be no conciliation proceedings. The bench, however, recorded a prima facie finding that the strike was prohibited by law as BPCL is a public utility service and has initiated conciliation proceedings.

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