Govt to face opposition to labour law reforms

Govt to face opposition to labour law reforms

The new round of economic reforms under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi may lead to a fierce fight between trade unions and the government over labour law reforms, the process of which has been started by the Vashundhara Raje government in Rajasthan.

Modi has not to face only Left trade unions but also the trade unions like Bhartiya Majdoor Sangh (BMS), an affiliate of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. 

“We have written to the prime minister that we will not allow it to happen. We will go to any extent,” BMS general secretary Brajesh Upadhyay told Deccan Herald.

“In the name of labour reforms, they just want to implement hire and fire policy. How can it be permitted? It is misleading to hold labourers responsible for impeding economic growth. We have been asking them if any law is leading to such a situation, we are ready to debate on that. In fact that is not the case,” Upadhyay said.

All trade unions–CITU, AITUC and INTUC–have the same view. “We are all united on the issue,” says Upadhyay. This unity is the reason why pro-liberalisation Manmohan Singh government could not implement the reforms.

 The Rajasthan government’s amendments are what the industry has long been advocating for. It has cleared state-level amendments to Central government legislations including the Industrial Disputes Act, Contract Labour Act and the Factories Act. The bills are to be tabled in the coming session of the Rajasthan Assembly. However, since it falls into Concurrent List the Central laws will have primacy and in a way, the Centre will have the last word.

The changes which the Rajasthan government has proposed include doing away with the provision of government permission to retrenchment of more than 100 workers. The amendment will allow retrenchment of up to 300 workers without any government permission.

The proposal prohibits raising disputes within three years time and registration of a representative trade union will require 30 per cent of workers as members, not 15 per cent, which the current law provides for.

The state government has proposed amendments in the Contract Labour Act as well. It seeks to change the applicability of the law to companies with 50 workers from 20.

The applicability of the Factories Act is also being amended. Presently, it applies to the premises with 10 workers with power and 20 without power. The amendment will make it applicable to premises with 40 workers.

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