The Kerala High Court on Thursday ordered the State police to remove obstructions caused to Muthoot Finance employees, who are willing to work in 10 branches of the company .

A division bench, headed by Justice Vinod Chandran, passed the order on a writ petition filed by brach managers in Illikkal in Kottayam, Erattupetta, Kanjirappally, Athani near Nedumbassery, Vandanmedu, Pachalam in Ernakulam, Thodupuzha, Poonjar, Kattapana and Mangatukadavu in Thodupuzha. The managers had sought police protection to operate their branches.

The court also directed the company management to duly participate in conciliation meetings. The division bench also asked the management to ensure that none other than the persons, who are in the muster roll of a branch, shall be employed in that branch.

The court also made it clear that the order would not interfere with the right of the striking workers to peacefully carry on with their protests against the management without causing any obstruction to the smooth functioning in the said branches.

The State Attorney earlier submitted that the management was not cooperating with the conciliation initiated by the State authorities. This was despite the fact that the management had itself sought initiation of conciliation proceedings and the court during the hearing of the petition suggested mediation in the matter.

According to the petitioners, members of the Non-banking and Private Finance Employees' Association (CITU) and the CITU State unit were preventing the petitioners from entering their offices by use of force. Despite lodging complaints with the police, no action was taken to provide police protection, the petitioners contended.

The management had already closed down 15 branches affected by the strike by providing terminal benefits to the employees. The average business of branches outside the State were double the volume of Kerala branches. If branches were shifted outside the State due to strike, the petitioners would lose their jobs, the petitioners said