Mumbai. The Bombay high court (HC) has come to the rescue of the families of 42 gardeners, who has been working as temporary workers for City & Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) of Maharashtra in New Panvel for long but have not been paid their monthly salaries since January.
The court took note of their deplorable plight and directed CIDCO on Wednesday to pay them their unpaid salaries till April and treat their employment as regular and not temporary.
The court has also asked CIDCO to issue identity cards to the gardeners by Monday and also regularly provide personal protective equipment (PPE) kits to them to carry out their work amid the raging coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak.
Maharashtra Kamgar Sanghatana, a union of temporary workers, had filed a plea in the HC on behalf of the gardeners, pleading to pay their pending monthly salaries at the earliest.
Senior advocate Sanjay Singhvi and advocate Karishma Rao, who appeared on behalf of the Sanghatana, pointed out to the gross injustice that has been meted out to the gardeners, who have been working for CIDCO for long, but have been living off handouts from the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and social workers amid the pandemic.
They cited that on January 13, 2017, the Industrial Court at Thane had directed CIDCO to absorb the gardeners as permanent staff with immediate effect.
On January 31, 2020, the HC, too, upheld the Thane court’s order and dismissed the plea filed by CIDCO.
Advocate GS Hegde, who appeared on behalf of CIDCO, said that the corporation had instructed the contractor, who has hired these gardeners, to pay their monthly salaries on time.
However, advocate Hegde’s argument failed to convince Justice Kathawalla. “None of the submissions made by advocate Hegde, on behalf of CIDCO, justify the inhuman and callous conduct of non-payment of the earned wages since January 2020 to these workers and deserve severe condemnation,” the judge said.