Saturday, July 31, 2021
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Government has no time for Labour reforms?

[dropcap]M[/dropcap]ore than a million workers in banking, telecom and other sectors will go on strike on Friday to press their demand for better pay and in protest against new labour and investment policies. Banks, government offices and factories will remain closed. In some states, local unions have agreed to join the strike which means public transport could be affected. Trade unions including the All India Trade Unions Congress and Centre of Indian Trade Unions rejected a government appeal to call off the strike, saying it failed to address their demands. They have objected to the government loosening the norms for foreign investment in areas like insurance and defence. They are also opposed to a plan to close loss-making state-run firms. The government aims to raise Rs. 55,907 crore ($8.35 billion) through privatisation this fiscal year, and shut down some companies. Losses at 77 state-run companies exceeded $4 billion or Rs. 26,780 crore in the last fiscal year. Ours is a socialist country by its culture and history and nobody can change that or else there may be mini civil wars. It’s time to change from the idea of job protection to the idea of progressive job employment. When there are plenty of job opportunities, everyone will get employment and it will be easier for people to go up the ladder and earn better salaries. In the worst case, one will find an equivalent job in another company. Job protection is farcical illusion. So far, in reality it is dangerous for the employee itself giving nothing in return. In the end, no one can guarantee job protection, not even government employees, if it is not based on reality and money gathering. Collapsing of ‘Communist Economies’ is bigger example, after they realised, people in large numbers ended up being hungry.

Government’s labour reforms are based on the principle of destroying trade unions and save trade corporate, so that they will not hear the voices of trade unions. The trade union strike has been called on because of the Modi government’s proposed changes in Labour laws. Strike by millions of workers may bring down public transport to a grinding halt and shut down factories and banking services across several parts of India. Union busting is a pejorative term used by media, labour organizations, and others to describe a wide range of activities undertaken to disrupt or prevent the formation of trade unions. Union busting tactics can refer to both legal and illegal activities, and can range anywhere from subtle to violent. Labour laws differ greatly from country to country in both level and type of regulations in respect to their protection of unions, their organizing activities, as well as other aspects. These laws can affect topics such as posting notices, organizing on or off employer property, solicitations, card signing, union dues, picketing, work stoppages, striking and strikebreaking, lockouts, termination of employment, permanent replacements, automatic recognition and derecognition, ballot elections, and employer-controlled trade unions.

Dynamic job are the jobs where everyone allows stepping up the ladder, improves their earning and make their lives better. The faster we come to the correct logic, the better it will be. A year ago, 10 central trade unions called for the “Bharat bandh” in support of a 12-point charter demanding higher wages, social security, withdrawal of labour law amendments and an end to privatisation of public sector companies among other things. However, nothing feared the government.

The Union members said that the union has not asked its drivers to join the strike; they voluntarily participated in it. The new laws by the government have been made against the employees so the union members have decided to show their strength to the government. Reforms noise is fine but no commenter or Union wants to say that this shall be the reform. If an employer undertakes to recruit somebody because he can pay, he shall be entitled to remove him if he believes that he cannot pay, off course, with a defined compensation to worker. The fact that the contract/ casual workers outnumber regular workers just because their wages are low is also unfair. Overtime hours, their rates, etc are the leverages which managements use to contain costs. Replacement of labour by higher capacity and more efficient machines is natural and accepted as a principle. We shall not restrict retrenchment because of it. Any organization wants to expand and so would be able to use existing manpower for increasing the volume and by retraining them.

However, with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) assuming power in mid-2014, some State governments dared the trade unions by successfully introducing core labour law reforms such as amending Chapter V-B of the ID Act and the Contract Labour Act. The Modi government has sought to send strong signals to global and domestic investors that it would introduce these very core reforms at the national level, and has hence floated codes on wages, industrial relations and other issues. The trade unions have criticised these reform initiatives. The presence of BMS till the penultimate moment bolstered their morale and embarrassed the Centre. The demands largely cover issues concerning labour flexibility, enhanced labour rights including better minimum wages, opposition to unilateral reform measures and to foreign direct investment. The inter-ministerial committee headed by the finance minister has held talks with the trade unions. The NDA government has reportedly given an assurance on meeting seven of the 12 demands, such as raising minimum wages and bonus eligibility limits, creating a social security net for contract workers and holding a social dialogue before effecting reforms. Appeased by these statements, BMS withdrew from the strike. They are prepared to give six months to the government for execution of promises, before reviewing their position.

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Dr Vaidehi Taman
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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