Notice to government on airport workers’ plea

May 23rd, 2008 - 9:35 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, May 23 (IANS) The Supreme Court Friday issued notice to the central government on a lawsuit by the Delhi airports’ existing contract workers opposing the ongoing recruitment of younger replacements for them. A vacation bench of judges C.K. Thakkar and Justice L.S. Panta also issued notice to the Airports Authority of India, Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) and the Central Advisory Contract Labour Board on the contract workers’ plea.

The bench, however, refused to restrain DIAL, which is modernising the airport, from employing new and young workers in place of the older ones for retrieving trolleys at the terminal.

The bench adjourned the matter for detailed hearing after the court’s summer vacation ends in the first week of July.

The recruitment of new contract workers was challenged by 136 existing contract workers who earlier had fought a relentless legal battle with the government to get their jobs regularized.

Following this, the Central Advisory Contract Labour Board had in Feb 2004 held that “the job of trolley retrieval was of permanent and perennial nature”.

Pointing out the huge quantum of traffic at the Delhi airport, the Board also recommended that the government abolish the contract labour system and instead employ permanent workers for retrieving trolleys at the airport.

Acceding to the Board’s recommendation, the government promptly abolished the contract labour system for retrieving trolleys and the existing workers had hoped the Airports Authority of India would absorb them as permanent workers.

Instead, the government handed the job of managing Delhi airport to DIAL which in turn hired a private firm to handle the job of retrieving trolleys.

The private firm, Sindhu Holdings Private Limited, also began hiring new and young workers on contract for retrieving trolleys.

When the existing workers challenged this before the Delhi High Court May 20, it ruled that the 2004 notification abolishing the contract labour system was no longer valid as the airport management has been handed over to a private company.

The high court said DIAL was not covered by the old notification.

It was against this ruling that the existing workers moved the Supreme Court and wanted it to stop the ongoing recruitment of new workers in their place.

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