India to ratify ILO rules on workers bargain, safety, says Kharge

Written by fe Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Sep 27 2012, 07:00am hrs
India is planning to adopt International Labour Organisation (ILO) norms for protection of the right to collective bargaining by workers and another one for upgrading the occupational safety standards, labour minister Mallikarjun Kharge said on Wednesday.

India, a founding member of the ILO and holding a permanent seat at its governing body since 1922, has so far ratified 43 of the 189 conventions.

Though the Trade Union Act facilitates unionisation both in the organised and the unorganised sectors, it is not binding on companies to recognise a registered union and hence there is no legal compulsion of employers to enter into a collective bargaining with workers union.

Ratification of ILO convention will encourage voluntary negotiations in order to regulate terms and conditions of employment through collective agreements.

The convention will help trade unions by ensuring that workers enjoy "adequate protection against acts of anti-union discrimination in respect of their employment."

The ILO convention also ensures protection of workers against any acts by an employer to make the employment of a worker subject to the condition that he shall not join a union or shall relinquish trade union membership, dismissal of or prejudice a worker by reason of union membership or because of participation in union activities.

Workers and employers' unions would be protected against any acts of "interference by each other or each other's agents or members in their establishment, functioning or administration", as per the ILO convention.

"We are also actively engaging in consultation process for ratification of ILO Conventions No 98 concerning protection of the right to organise and collective bargaining and No 155 concerning occupational safety and health," Kharge said .

The government has been undertaking various pro-active measures to improve the working conditions of our workforce, which are in line with norms and standards set by ILO, he said. Recently, the Union Cabinet has already given approval to the proposed amendment to the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986.

"The amendment will make the Child Labour Act to align with ILO Convention No.138 concerning Minimum Age and No.182 concerning Worst Forms of Labour," Kharge said.

While claiming that government has been upgrading labour laws to safeguard welfare of workers, Kharge said states are yet to implement all the laws pertaining to some segments like construction sector which employs over 4.46 crore workers. Considering that labour engaged in construction activity is basically unskilled, migrant, socially backward and uneducated with low bargaining power, and their work is of temporary nature and involves inherent risk to life, Kharge said the government enacted two legislation Building and Other Construction Workers Act and the Building and other Construction Workers Welfare Cess Act. During the last five years, most states have moved forward in implementing the acts. "However, I must confess that in the context of the implementation of the Acts, a lot needs to be done by the states," the minister said.