At a time when rest of the central trade unions are preparing for an "all India strike" against the economic policies of the Narendra Modi government, including disinvestment and its proposed reform of labour laws, on January 8, the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) on Friday demanded that the new Industrial Relations Code Bill, 2019, should be redrafted for "industrial peace". It said the new code will lead to "jungle raj" in the industry.
The Narendra Modi government introduced the Industrial Relations Code Bill in the Lok Sabha on Thursday. The BMS is affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). It is not part of the January 8 strike that the rest of the trade unions have called, and most opposition political parties support.
The BMS has demanded that the government "should withdraw the provisions going against the interest of the workers” in the new Industrial Relations Code, 2019. In a statement issued Friday afternoon, the BMS said the Bill should be sent to a parliamentary standing committee for redrafting.
The BMS said the government should urgently find ways to address industrial failures, otherwise the burden is being conveniently shifted to the shoulders of workers in the name of labour reforms. The BMS will discuss its future course of action on the provisions and about industrial failure in its office bearers meeting to be held in Haridwar on December 11 to 13.
The Congress is set to throw its weight behind the 'all India strike'. In the Rajya Sabha during a discussion on the economic slowdown on Wednesday, Congress’ Jairam Ramesh termed Modi government’s plans to sell its stakes in some of the public sector undertakings as “panic privatization”. The Congress has already launched protests against the government's plans for BPCL.
The BMS, which finds itself isolated among the trade unions, issued a statement on Friday afternoon opposing the code. The BMS said the code “will create a battleground in the industrial sector as its many provisions are against the interests of the workers.”
It said the large exemption regime proposed in the new code “will create a jungle raj where parties will be compelled to settle their disputes with muscle power.” It slammed the Bill’s efforts at redrafting India’s labour laws for its “lack of expertise and vision”.
It lauded some of the aspects of the new code, including doing away with obsolete practice of tribunals publishing their decisions in official gazettes and welcomed that they would directly communicate these to the parties involved. It also welcomed election of office bearers of trade unions once in every two years, which it said will help remove bogus unions that “do not function in a democratic way”.
However, it said several “pro-workers” provisions in the previous draft place for consultation are missing from the Bill. It said the provision prohibiting strikes “will make the industrial sector a conflict zone destroying industrial peace”.
“Giving notice of strike before 14-days and within two-months is clearly a restraint on strike. It has demanded deletion of the provision prescribing penalty for “illegal” strike.
The BMS said “fixed term employment” is a new definition which was not in the last draft, and that “casualisation and contractualisation is going to create explosive situation in the near future. It will also lead to below quality productive activities in Industrial sector and create an India of “casualised” labour.”
The BMS said the government has “no business in interfering with internal matters of trade unions”, like fixing rate of subscriptions payable by the members, prohibition on person holding an office of profit as office bearer, etc. It has also objected to the proposed ‘hire and fire’ rules and several other provisions.