Govt stays on labour reforms path

Panel to discuss industrial relations Bill today ministry officials’ presentation to PMO on reforms

The Centre, it seems, is determined to push ahead with its labour reforms, despite massive protests from central trade unions last week.

A sub- committee of ministry officials and trade unions would meet on Thursday to discuss the proposed industrial relations Bill, aimed at easing retrenchment norms for employers and toughen the setting up of trade unions. Sources said senior labour ministry officials would give a presentation to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on Friday on its proposed labour law reforms and its status.

Most such proposals initiated by the National Democratic Alliance ( NDA) government were stuck at various levels of discussion within the government.

One of the major factors delaying the reform process was the staunch opposition of the trade unions.

To look into the trade unions’ demands, the government had formed a sub- committee to examine the draft Bill.

The panel had recommended that some of the long- pending demands of the trade unions be met. These included mandatorily recognising trade unions as representative of workers in case of a dispute and creating a reskilling fund to train retrenched workers, with the employer paying 30- day wage towards the fund. These were in addition to athree times increase in the compensation package in case of retrenchment.

Now the sub- committee would meet and re- examine these recommendations.

After coming to power, the NDA government had announced a slew of labour reforms, including codes on industrial relations and wages. The draft small factories Bill, factories ( amendment) Bill, employees’ provident fund (amendment) Bill, employees’ state insurance ( amendment) Bill were some of the other key proposals. The trade unions had registered the strongest protest against certain provisions of the proposed industrial relations Bill.

The proposed industrial relations Bill allows factories with up to 300 workers to retrench the hands and shut shop without government approval. Now, norms allow factories with 100 workers to take such actions. Apart from this, outsiders would not be allowed to become office- bearers of trade unions in the organised sector. There are also several restrictions on calling a strike.

In addition to this, labour ministry officials would brief the PMO on the status of the labour law reforms proposed by the government.

Business Standard, New Delhi, 10th Sept. 2015

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