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Good year for workplace harmony

INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS: However, industry, trade union leaders dismiss Survey?s claim that industrial relations were ?cordial?

Business Standard 

Industrial relations in the country were ‘peaceful’ and ‘cordial’ during calendar year 2011, said the Economic Survey. It dismissed the perception that relations between workers and employers had deteriorated during the year.

The survey said the number of strikes and lockouts fell substantially during a large part of 2011. There were 106 strikes reported till October 2011, against 262 reported for all of 2010. The instances of lockouts also fell from 165 in all of 2010 to 29 up to October 2011. Total mandays lost also saw a steep fall, down from 18 million in 2010 to 4.1 million up to October 2011.

Both the industry and the trade union leaders dismissed the Survey’s claim that industrial relations were “cordial”. They said last year and more recently the general strike on February 28 had reinforced that the industrial climate was on the decline.


Number of strikes, lockouts fell substantially in 2011, says survey
Year Strikes Lockouts Total mandays lost
2006 243 187 203,243,78
2007 210 179 271,667,52
2008 (P) 240 181 174,337,21
2009 (P) 205 187 133,647,57
2010 (P) 262 165 180,257,33
2011 (P) (Jan-Oct) 106 29 419,46,51
Source: Labour Bureau

“Industrial relations in the country are hardly cordial,” said Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry’s B P Pant. “Saying industrial relations are cordial is a blatant lie,” said All India Trade Union Congress’ general secretary, Gurudas Dasgupta.

The survey credited the “constant endeavour of industrial relations machineries of both the Centre and the state” as the reason. It also said issues of dispute over wages and allowances, bonus, personnel, indiscipline and violence, and financial stringency were major reasons for strikes and lockouts.

It did not say the issue of contract labour was a source of disagreement between employers and employees, although the lack of parity between permanent and contract workers was at the forefront of disputes with employers in over a dozen important industrial units last year. An instance was the three strikes at India’s largest car maker, Maruti Suzuki India’s Manesar factory. There was also the eight-day strike at Mahindra and Mahindra’s Nashik plant over the demand of ‘equal pay for equal work’ and a three-month strike at Dr Reddy’s Laboratories’ API manufacturing facility near Visakhapatnam, over disagreement on pay to contract workers.

The Survey said there was a substantial increase in job opportunities in the industrial sector. A majority of these were created in the construction sector. In 2009-10, the sector workers employed 9.6 per cent of the workforce and contributed 7.9 per cent to GDP. The mining sector also witnessed a rise in employment. The manufacturing sector, whose contribution to GDP rose from 15.3 per cent in 2004-05 to 16 per cent in 2009-10, saw a fall. Employment in manufacturing has decreased from 56.1 million in 2004-05 to 52.4 million in 2009-10.

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First Published: Fri, March 16 2012. 00:52 IST