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Indian High Court rules community health volunteers are municipal employees

31 January 2017
Some of the 4000 women affected by the rule
After 14 years of struggle, 4,000 women health volunteers in Mumbai have been granted the status of municipal employees. They will now be covered for pension benefits and insurance.

The Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) engaged the women as Community Health Volunteers (CHVs), stipulating that they would not be treated as employees and that benefits offered to employees would not be available to them. They were instructed not to join a union, nor to make any demands.

The municipal health sector workers’ union MASKS took up the issue, demanding that the CHVs (a) be considered as employees and (b) that the employer/employee relations be recognised. As their demand was rejected by the MCGM, they took it to the Industrial Tribunal and both points were agreed. However, the MCGM challenged the decision.

The union made the same submission before the High Court. MASKS submitted that the CHVs are appointed by the MCGM, they work for the MCGM, they do the work of MCGM which is obligatory work, their work is supervised by the officers of the MCGM and if they failed to work properly they are punished by the officers of the Corporation. These contentions, which were proved before the Tribunal, have been upheld on 4 January 2017 by the Hon’ble Justice Shri. S.C. Gupte of the Bombay High Court who dismissed the Petition of the MCGM.

The MCGM incurred around 30,000,000 INR of legal fees. It has also been directed to pay 230,000,000 INR of penalty and contributions for the provident fund of the CHVs and to declare that they are covered for pension benefits and insurance under the Employees Provident Fund & Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952.

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