Monday, Oct 20, 2014

Industrial Disputes Act set for a major overhaul

Written by Surabhi | New Delhi | Posted: August 18, 2014 12:35 am | Updated: August 18, 2014 9:51 am

The government is likely to go in for a more comprehensive overhaul of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 rather than just seek to amend provisions on retrenchment workers in manufacturing units. The thinking comes after concerns were once again raised by trade unions over the proposal.

“There are many facets to the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, that need a review. Since there have been some concerns raised again, we will now work on a more comprehensive review of the Act,” said a senior government official.

As part of its drive at liberalising decades-old labour laws, the labour ministry had revived a proposal for easier retrenchment of workers in the National Investment and Manufacturing Zones (NIMZs), in line with those already existing for workers in the mining sector.

Under the proposal, workers in any unit in the NIMZ may be removed without notice or compensation if the employer provides them with alternative employment in the same zone at the same pay and conditions of work.

In case alternative employment is not possible, the employer will have to pay compensation to the worker at the rate of 20 days’ wages for every completed year of continuous service or any part over six months.

However, a tripartite meeting called with labour leaders and employer representatives failed to yield any progress on the issue that has been pending since 2012, with trade unions continuing to oppose the provisions.

“All trade unions at the meeting had opposed the proposal as it was against the welfare of workers,” said AD Nagpal, secretary, Hind Mazdoor Sabha.

As the name suggests, the legislation provides a framework for investigation and settling industrial disputes.

The government had in 2010 enacted amendments to the Act defining appropriate authority and increasing the wage ceiling of the workers working in a supervisory capacity.

But since labour is a subject on the Concurrent List of the Constitution, states too can amend the laws and the Rajasthan government has already gone ahead with similar amendments to the Industrial Disputes Act that were passed by the state assembly earlier this month.

Meanwhile, the labour ministry is also working on amendments to the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, that seeks to set a nationwide minimum wage floor.

According to sources, a draft Cabinet note has already been prepared and inter-ministerial discussions on the proposal will soon start. “Based on the feedback, we will be finalising a proposal for the Cabinet over the next month or so,” said another official familiar with the development.

The Minimum Wages Act was enacted in 1948. The latest amendment was done in 1986 by incorporating the definition of “adolescent” and “child”.

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