Millennium Post

BJP TU arm to lead move against anti-labour policy

Trade unions have decided to oppose the proposals in the Industrial relations bill, which makes firing easier and forming of unions difficult, at their tripartite meeting with the government on Wednesday. The Labour Ministry will hold a meeting with trade unions’ representatives and employers on Wednesday in the capital on the the draft Labour Code on Industrial Relations Bill, 2015. The bill proposes to combine Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, Trade Unions Act, 1926, and Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946. Central trade unions, including the BJP-backed Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) said they will strongly oppose the proposals, saying they deprive workers of their basic rights. 

“There are certain clauses which are against workers, like hire and fire clause and tougher rules for forming unions. We will strongly protest against these provisions,” said Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh President B N Rai who will attend the meeting said. Rai said they got the copy of the draft bill four days ago and discussions are scheduled on Wednesday.

“Government should have given us ample time before holding tripartite discussions on it,” he said. “If the government would be adamant then we would have to take strong decision in the national convention of central trade unions on May 26.” This strong decision could be nation wide protest, strike and gherao Parliament, Rai added. Besides, unions are also concerned about categories of workers and relief available under the labour laws. “At present, there are many classes of workers, including regular, temporary, daily wagers and contract workers. There should only be two categories -- permanent and temporary.” 

The Code on Industrial Relations Bill, 2015 is one of the initiative of the government to subsume 44 labour laws into five broad codes, dealing with industrial relation, wages, social security, industrial safety and welfare. At present, firms employing 100 or more workers are required to seek government’s permission for retrenchment under the Industrial Dispute Act. “The new bill will make it difficult to form unions as it require more number people to be applicants at the time of registering a union,” he said. According to the proposed provision in the draft code, 10 per cent of workers shall apply (be applicant) for registering a trade union. In cases where 10 per cent of worker strength is less than 7, at least seven workers are required (to apply) for the purpose and where 10 per cent of workers exceed 100, hundred workers shall be sufficient for registering the union.

At present, any seven or more members of a trade union can apply for registration of the trade union. Meanwhile, Hind Mazdoor Sabha will also oppose provisions related to hire and fire and tough rules for forming unions under new draft industrial code.“We are most likely to fix a date for going on nationwide strike at national convention of central trade unions on May 26,” Hind Mazdoor Sabha’s Secretary A D Nagapal said. All India Trade Union Congress Secretary D L Sachdev said: “The provisions of the industrial code is not the only issue, government wants to amend the existing labour laws to make them anti-workers.” He added that in the proposed comprehensive amendment to Employees Provident Fund & Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1952, the government wants to dilute social security available to formal sector workers by providing them option to choose between schemes run by the retirement body and New Pension Scheme (NPS).

Sachdev said that under the Small Factories Bill, which applies to employers employing less than 40 workers would be exempted from compliance of 14 labour laws including EPF & MP Act and ESI Act 1948. “Once the Small Factories Bill becomes law, a large number of formal sector workers would be out of the social security net provided by EPFO and ESIC. These small factories would be allowed to buy provident fund and health insurance products available in the market,” he said. 

Sachdev opined that there are many provisions in the proposed amendments in various draft bill for amending existing labour laws which would deprive workers of their existing basic rights. He said: “In view of the government’s various anti-worker proposals to amend the existing labour laws, the central trade unions are likely to fix a date for going on strike at their national convention on May 26.” 
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