HMT cannot evict employees, Punjab and Haryana HC issues restraining order

The tractor unit of Hindustan Machine Tools, in Pinjore, was closed by the Centre in 2016 due to losses

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Punjab and Haryana High Court has issued a restraining order to Hindustan Machine Tools (HMT) preventing the Company from evicting its employees living in the government-allowed quarters as per company policies. The High Court also restrained collection of water and electricity charges and discontinuation of these facilities. This order was passed considering employees’ argument that the Company hasn’t paid them their salaries.

The tractor unit of HMT in Pinjore was shut down by the Central Government in 2016 due to continuous losses and an insignificant market share. Since then, the Government announced a voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) or a voluntary separation scheme (VSS) for employees with a budget of Rs 718.72 crores. This amount was announced to clear the outstanding salaries, dues and other liabilities of the 1,100 employees affected by the shutdown of the unit then.

In the most recent plea, the employees of HMT sought directions from the HC to restrain the authorities from evicting them from the company quarters. Further, they also requested them to waive off the license fee, electricity fee and water charges as agreed under their quarter- allotment letters. The petitioners are in the category of serving employees but are not getting paid their salaries. Because of this, the court observed, they are not in a position to pay the charges.

The Company, however, maintains that it is not getting proper funds from the Centre.
The court has demanded a solution from respondents, who are directed to convene a meeting at the Central government level. The matter has been posted for hearing on November 12 next.

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