Now, Karnataka govt exempts SEZs from labour laws

The move comes with a rider that the establishments must constitute committees to deal with complaints of sexual harassment and other grievances.

Karnataka has exempted all industrial establishments located in special economic zones (SEZ) from labour laws for a five-year period, provided they constitute committees to deal with complaints of sexual harassment and other grievances. 

The Labour department issued a notification on Wednesday excluding SEZ industries from the provisions of the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act. The Act regulates terms of employment including termination, misconduct, wages, holidays etc. 

According to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Karnataka has 32 operational SEZs which provide employment to lakhs of workers. While most SEZs belong to the IT/ITes sectors, there are others that cater to pharmaceuticals, textiles, aerospace and product engineering sectors. 

The exemption for SEZs is subject to four conditions: Industrial establishments must constitute internal complaints committee as per the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act; constitute grievance redressal committee; furnish information about cases of disciplinary action like suspension, dismissal etc, to the authorities; furnish details on service conditions of employees as sought by the authorities.

Earlier this year, the state government exempted the IT/ITes sector from the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act for another five years. The last exemption was granted in January 2014. The IT industry has argued that the Act was meant for traditional industrial sectors.

The Labour Department has also specified the minimum wages employers should pay workers in coffee curing and forestry & timbering industries. For instance, graders and yard workers will now get paid Rs 406.80 per day, cooks Rs 418, foremen Rs 440.69, machine operators Rs 421.76 and so on. Likewise, skilled workers in forestry & timbering such as axeman, sawyers, librarians will get Rs 565.54, semi-skilled workers Rs 516.52 and unskilled workers Rs 471.95.

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