The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This PagePrint This Page
Unions warn of layoff backlash

New Delhi, Sept. 9: The Centre has again run into a wall of opposition from trade unions over the second National Labour Commission’s recommendations.

A day after labour minister Sahib Singh Verma announced the panel’s recommendations, the RSS-backed Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh rejected that part of the report which suggested lay-offs in every unit regardless of the number of workers it employed.

An 11-member BMS delegation today met the minister and warned him of grave political consequences if the government pushed through the labour panel’s recommendations. “Look at what happened to the BJP in Delhi’s municipal elections,” BMS president Hansubhai Dave said.

Even the Indian National Trade Union Congress (Intuc), whose president Sanjeeva Reddy, a commission member, had signed his approval for the recommendations, is rebelling. “Our president had signed as a member of the National Labour Commission. But the Intuc as an organisation cannot accept it,” said the Congress-backed outfit’s secretary, Chandidas Sinha.

Both the BMS and Intuc say that in the present situation, no industrial unit — big or small — should be allowed to retrench workers or close down units without the government’s permission. “Even the present ceiling of 100 is not acceptable to us,” Dave said.

The Industrial Disputes Act states that units employing more than 100 workers will have to seek permission from respective state governments if they want to lay off workers or close undertakings. While the commission has suggested doing away with any form of ceiling in case of retrenchments, it has recommended raising the ceiling from 100 to 300 in case of units wanting to close shop.

Verma has a tough job convincing trade unions and political parties to back the labour law reforms. He has already held a discussion with the Intuc leadership. Today, he met the BMS. The week after next, Citu has been invited for a discussion.

The Centre wants to pass the reforms Bills in the next Parliament session, but the signs do not augur well. The BMS, during its discussions with Verma, opposed the proposal to amend the Contract Labour Act. Once again it suggested the opposite of what the panel has recommended. While discouraging the use of contract labour in core sectors, the labour panel has not rejected in toto the Centre’s proposal for farming out jobs.

Sinha, the Intuc secretary, said his organisation has sent its recommendations to the Congress high command. “The AICC has today set up an advisory labour committee comprising four general secretaries each from the party and the trade union to take a view on labour reforms,” he said.

Earlier, the Congress leadership was in favour of “rationalising” labour laws to the effect that the current ceiling of 100 workers be raised to 300 in case of units wanting to bypass government approval for retrenching workers and closing down.

Email This PagePrint This Page