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Left shadow on labour law
BS Economy Bureau in New Delhi |
May 28, 2004 09:10 IST
The rainbow coalition's Common Minimum Programme has toed the Left line on labour reforms. The UPA has rejected the idea of automatic hire-and-fire and deleting a draft proposal which recognised amendments to the laws 'to impart flexibility to industry'.
Instead, the paper released by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recommended changes, but ruled out amendments to the Industrial Disputes Act -- other than those needed to remove the Inspector Raj. 'The UPA will pursue a dialogue with industry and trade unions on this issue before coming up with specific proposals,' the CMP said.
The industry has been demanding amendments to the Industrial Disputes Act so that units hiring up to 1,000 workers be exempted from prior permission for closure. At present, the level is fixed at 100 workers.
Though the National Democratic Alliance government tried to amend the provisions, the move could not be pushed through due to resistance from trade unions and some allies in the earlier government.
The CMP has also promised that the rights and benefits of workers, including the right to strike, will not be curtailed. The Supreme Court in a recent judgment had declared that strikes by government employees were illegal.
The government has also identified the welfare of workers, particularly those in the unorganised sector who constituted 93 per cent of India's workforce.
A warren of schemes ranging from a social security net to health insurance for weavers, handloom workers, fishermen, leather and plantation workers, has been promised.
Though the paper was silent on extending contract labour activities to core sectors, the proposal is unlikely to go through given the Left parties' resistance to the proposal.
The fate of simplified labour laws in special economic zones was also uncertain since the CMP was against the idea of automatic hire and fire.