Following resistance from employee unions, attached to the Shiv Sena and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), to the proposed labour reforms for easing the closure of factories in the state, Labour Minister Sambhaji Patil has said he would convene a meeting of all labour unions next week to understand their objections. The unions have demanded that the government consult them before taking a decision.
“Though we want to attract investments in the state to generate employment, the labourers’ rights would be protected to avoid any sort of exploitation. We will take all possible welfare measures for labourers,” Patil told The Indian Express.
Patil further said that the closure procedure is complicated in the state as compared to other states. “This is one thing that any investor asks for making investments in the state. But we will still protect the labourers’ rights. I will call a labour unions’ meeting next week to understand their objections and incorporate their suggestion for labour welfare as well,” said the minster adding that the government plans to introduce a bill regarding the proposed amendments in the Assembly next month.
According to officials from the department, any factory having more than 100 employees requires government permission for closure. Now, it has proposed to increase the limit to 300 workers in the Industrial Disputes Act.
Besides, it has also proposed to include a provision that if the factories employing more than 300 workers pay 60 days’ average pay for every completed year of service, they would not require government’s prior permission for closure. Currently, there is no such provision. It also proposes to increase compensation for retrenched workers by three times.
It has also proposed to add a new section in the Act for raising any dispute related to retrenchment or dismissal from service within three years of closure. At present, there is no such bar and a dispute can be raised at any time.
“These reforms will just lead to more exploitation of labourers. The proposed reforms favour factory owners. We will oppose it strongly and will not allow it to be passed,” said Suryakant Mahadik, president of the Bharatiya Kamgar Sena, affiliated to the Shiv Sena.
According to the labour department, there are 37,234 registered factories with 25.16 lakh employees in the state. Of them, 32,443 factories employ less than 100 workers, and have a total of 7.95 lakh employees. There are 3,426 factories that employ between 100 and 300 employees, with a total of 5.84 lakh. The remaining 1,365 factories employ more than 300 workers, and have a total of 11.37 lakh employees.