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Send Industrial Relations Code Bill to standing committee for review: BMS


Press Trust of India New Delhi
RSS-affiliate Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) on Friday demanded that the government should send the Industrial Relations Code Bill to a parliamentary standing committee for a redraft as certain provisions are against the interest of workers.
Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar introduced the bill in the Lok Sabha on Thursday amid protest by the opposition parties.
"Government should withdraw the provisions going against the interest of the workers in IR Code and send to Parliamentary Standing Committee to redraft it," the BMS said in a statement.
The union also asked the government that it 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 union has decided to discuss its further course of action on the provisions and about industrial failure in a meeting to be held in Haridwar from 11-13 December 2019.
It pointed out that the draft law will create a battleground in the industrial sector as its many provisions are against the interest of workers.
The large exemption regime proposed will create jungle Raj where parties will be compelled to settle their disputes with muscle power. Lack of expertise and vision is explicit in such an exercise of redrafting India's labour laws, it added.
It is of the view that the present provisions prohibiting strike will make the industrial sector a conflict zone destroying industrial peace and will create friction at floor level.
The bill provides for a notice of strike before 14 days and within 2 months.
The union thinks that it is clearly a restraint on strike and asked to remove penalty for illegal strike.
Fixed-term employment is a new definition in the bill, which was not in the last draft.
Casualisation and contractualisation is going to create an explosive situation in the near future and it will also lead to below quality productive activities in Industrial sector and create an India of casualised labour, the union added.
The BMS also said that the government has no business in interfering with internal matters of Trade Unions like fixing the rate of subscriptions payable by the members, prohibition on person holding an office of profit as office bearer, restraining outsiders as office bearers, protecting members of trade unions who do not participate in strike thereby creating split and weaken trade union etc.
In the new chapter IX and X on the permission for retrenchment, closure and lay off has been reduced/retained at 50-100.
Due to high mechanisation, companies can now run with 20-30 workers compared to 100 workers for same operations in olden times, BMS noted while suggesting that the existing threshold limit of 100 itself is on the higher side.
It was of the view that if each unit in an industrial establishment or undertaking is considered as a separate unit, it is easy for the employer to split up into smaller units and get out of the threshold limit to circumvent the coverage of various provisions of the labour laws.
On the definition of wages, it said that it excludes a long list of allowances etc. which will assist unscrupulous employers to avoid payment to ESI (employees state insurance) and EPF (employees' provident fund) etc. which is against the Supreme Court decision in Group Four case.
The union also objected to the definition of worker which expressly excludes apprentice.
It is also against the provision which makes oral evidence in disputes about standing orders inadmissible and arbitrary powers given to the government to nullify the awards of Tribunals passed after a long trial.
The time limit prescribed for the worker to apply for the execution of recovery of money as within one year is also an anti-worker provision whereas the general civil law says 12 years. This is to support unscrupulous employers, it pointed out.
Different dates for implementing different provisions, exclusion clauses, Government's power to give exemption, complicated definitions, the threshold limit for coverage of certain chapters etc. are age old methods which are against the spirit of Codification and simplification, the union added.

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First Published: Nov 29 2019 | 6:00 PM IST

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