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Monday, June 22, 2015

International Labour Organisation echoes unions' reservation against labour law amendments

NEW DELHI: International Labour Organisation has put its weight behind trade unions in India which hold that certain proposed amendments to labour laws would go against the interest of workers.

ILO will hold two-day national conference of central trade unions on June 29-30 for firming up a paper on issues raised by workers' representatives in various tripartite consultations on labour laws amendments.

According to sources, the ILO held regional consultations on various labour law amendments proposed by the government in Chennai and Bhubaneswar recently.

During the regional discussion, it was observed that there are no provisions in the Labour Code on Industrial Relations, 2015 aimed at "promoting collective bargaining. Instead, there is an emphasis on arbitration, a mode of dispute resolution that could be disadvantageous to workers for more reasons than one".

The bill provides that all office bearers of a registered trade union will have to be persons actually engaged or employed in the establishments or industry with which the trade unions is concerned. That means that outsiders cannot be associated with trade unions.

The bill prepared by the Labour Ministry proposes to combine Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, the Trade Unions Act, 1926, and the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946.

The ILO along with the trade unions found this provision to be contrary to the principle of freedom of association.

It was also pointed out that various provision of the bill refer to either recognised or certified negotiating agent but it does not provide for procedure for recognition of such agents.

During the regional discussion, ILO also agreed with the reservations of the trade unions against many other points raised by the trade unions on not only the bill but other contentious amendments.

Under this bill, the employers with up to 100 workers, will not be required to seeks government's permission for retrenchment. Moreover it proposed to make it tougher to form trade unions.

Unions are also opposing Small Factories bill which proposed to keep units employing less than 40 workers out of the purview of 14 labour laws including EPF & MP Act 1951, ESI Act 1948 and Industrial Dispute Act 1947.

They had also protested against proposed amendment in the EPF & MP Act, to provide an option to formal sector workers to choose between EPF and New Pension Scheme.

The unions had decided on May 26 to go on one day strike on September 2 to protest against government's indifference toward their 10-point agenda and unilateral labour reforms.
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