March 14, 2021 2:21:21 am
Despite the Covid-19 lockdown and the phase-wise reopening of industries in Gujarat, 62,602 man-days were lost in the first 10 months of 2020, due to strikes and lockouts in industries in Gujarat. The man-days lost by industries in the state is 99.5 per cent of what was recorded in 2019.
According to the latest Socio-Economic Review for the year 2020-21 released by the state government on Friday, till October 2020, there were 11 strikes and lockouts that affected 3,842 workers, causing a loss of 62,602 man-days.
In comparison, 31,378 man-days were lost in 2019 when nine incidents of strikes and lockouts that affected 2,228 workers, stated the document published by Directorate of Economics and Statistics, Government of Gujarat. In 2018, 43,448 mandays were lost due to industrial disputes in the state.
Though chemical and engineering industries in Gujarat together saw seven incidents of strikes and lockouts during the first 10 months of 2020, the maximum man-days were lost (44,200 mandays) in the ceramic sector. In 2019, too, more than half of the man-days lost were in the ceramic industries of Gujarat.
KG Kundariya, former president of Morbi Ceramic Association, which is the largest ceramic cluster in Gujarat, said the ceramic industry in Gujarat hardly sees a lockout or strike.
“Here the man-days are the maximum. There are no labour unions and we give Rs 350 to every worker per day. This is in addition to free food and lodging. Why would anyone strike work. During Covid, our industry remained shut for one-and-a-half months and for a large part of the year, we were facing labour shortage as migrant labourers had left the state due to the lockdown,” said Kundariya, who is a ceramic manufacturer.
Officials in the Gujarat labour department did not respond on the issue. The Gujarat government had watered down certain provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, when it tabled The Industrial Disputes (Gujarat Amendment) Act, 2020 in the Gujarat Assembly, which made it easier for firms to layoff employees. As per the Industrial Disputes Act, firms having 100 or more workers were required to seek the state government’s permission to layoff workers, retrench or close down operations. The amendment made last year allows firms having up to 300 workers not to seek this permission from the government. The new amendment also scales down on the compensation to be paid by the employer, if an employee is retrenched.
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