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The petition was pleaded against the order of the court passed on March 29 stating that “all the employees, be it in the Industry or in the shops and commercial establishments, shall make payment of wages of their workers, at their work places, on the due date, without any deduction, for the period their establishments are under closure during the lockdown.”The petitioners had blamed the government of passing such orders "without due care and deliberation on the financial implications for the employers".

The petition said they should be allowed to pay employees 70% less. They argued that the government should take care of the rest by utilizing the funds collected by the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation or the PM Cares Fund. The petitioners said their business had been hit because of the lockdown and that being forced to pay workers in full caused extreme financial and mental stress on them.

The bench comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan, Justice Sanjay Kishanv Kaul and Justice MR Shah observed that “No industry can survive without the workers. Thus employers and employee need to negotiate and settle among themselves. The bench has directed the State governments to facilitate settlements between employers and employees. Further, if no settlement is reached, the employers and employees have been directed to approach the Labour Commissioner.

The bench while reiterating its earlier order said that no coercive action will be taken against private factory or industry owners unable to pay full wages to workers during the 54 days of lockdown.The top court bench posted 18 petitions - filed by the Small Scale Industrial Manufacturers Association and companies such as Ludhiana Hand Tools Association, Ficus Pax and others - against the March 29 circular, for further hearing in last week of July.

The Supreme Court has given a big relief to employers, private companies and factories and said the government cannot force them to pay full wages to workers during the lockdown period.The Supreme Court directed for mutual settlement between employers and employees.

By: Deepanjali Singh

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