TO OPPOSE the proposed amendments to ease closure of factories in the state, labour unions affiliated to the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Shiv Sena and Congress have joined hands, stating that they would come on the streets for a “BJP hatao aandolan” for its “anti-labour The labour unions such as the Trade Union Joint Action Committee, the Centre of Indian Trade Unions affiliated to CPM, the Bharatiya Kamgar Sena, affiliated to the Shiv Sena, the Indian National Trade Union Congress affiliated to the Congress, the Hind Majdur Sabha and other labour organisations addressed a joint press conference Thursday. The RSS-affiliated Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh, which has also opposed the proposed reforms, was not part of the unions.
“With the proposed amendments in the Industrial Disputes Act, the state government is trying to change the definition of labour and diverting it to increasing the compensation. By putting a three-year bar on raising an industrial dispute, it is throwing the labourers out of the legal framework,” said Vishwas Utagi, convener of the Trade Union Joint Action Committee.
Utagi said all labour unions would launch a ‘BJP hatao aandolan’ across the state. “We will soon hold meetings the district levels against these labour reforms. Since the BJP has launched the ‘kamgar hatao’, we will launch the ‘BJP hatao’ aandolan,” he said, adding that all labour unions had decided to come together keeping aside their respective political affiliation in the interest of the labourers.
A state-level meeting of all labour unions would be held in Pune in the next three weeks to decide the further course of action, including strike and protests, said Utagi, adding they also opposed the amendments made in the Factories Act, the Contract Labourers Act and the Shops and Establishment Act.
Supporting Utagi’s views, Suryakant Mahadik, president of the Bharitya Kamgar Sena, said these proposed reforms would lead to rise in contract labourers than permanent labourers. “During the earlier regime of the NDA, a Varma commission was set up to reduce the labour reforms. We protested against it and observed a state-level bandh in which all labour unions took part. If required, we will repeat it now also,” said Mahadik, adding Sena president Uddhav Thackeray had asked him to oppose the reforms to protect the labourers’ rights. “It is an attempt to make the labourers slaves. While the government is focusing on ease of doing business, the labourers want ease of living and permanent employment. The reforms will lead to complete contractualisation in the industry,” said Sanjay Vadhavkar, general secretary of the Hind Majdur Sabha.
According to officials from the labour department, any factory having more than 100 employees requires government permission for closure. Now, it has been proposed to increase that number to 300 in the Industrial Disputes Act. The government has also proposed to add a new section in the Act restricting to three years the time-frame to raise any dispute related to retrenchment or dismissal from service. Besides, it has also proposed that factories would not require any prior permission of the government for closure if the employers paid 60 days’ average pay for every completed year of continuous service at the time of retrenchment.