Under pressure from trade unions, the labour ministry has diluted some of its earlier plans to bring more order and discipline into unionism. As per the revised draft of the Industrial Relations Code released by the ministry recently, a person can be an officebearer in any number of trade unions.
The initial draft, released in May, had proposed that no person could hold positions in more than 10 registered trade unions.
The exclusion of “disqualification” criteria has cheered trade union leaders who believe that the deletion would create a healthy atmosphere for the next tripartite meeting scheduled on October 6.
Labour union leaders have been vociferously opposing the proposal. However, the latest draft bars members of council of ministers or a person holding an office of profit in
the union or the state to
become an officebearer of a trade union.
“There have been many changes in the latest draft. But more modifications are required to ensure unhindered functioning of unions,” said Pawan Kumar, organising secretary, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), an RSS affiliate.
However, the ministry has retained some stringent provisions that would make forming trade unions tougher.
As per the code, only if at least 10% of the employees in an organisation or 100 of them, whichever is less, come together can a trade union be formed. Also, the ministry has mooted that a union’s registration could be cancelled on a number of new grounds, such as its failure to maintain annual returns, submit them to the authorities and hold regular elections.
Major central trade unions, barring BMS, had gone for a nationwide strike on September 2 mainly against the proposed labour reforms. Though the strike elicited only moderate response in many states, it seems to have forced the government to have second thoughts on the curbs proposed on unions.
Conviction by a court in India and imprisoned for five years, not attaining the age of 18 years and disqualification by the industrial tribunal are three other grounds for which a person could be disallowed for becoming the office bearer of a new trade union.
A softer code
While ministers and people holding office of profit are barred from being trade unions’ officebearers, others can hold offices in any number of unions, according to the revised draft of the Industrial Relations Code.
The previous draft suggested that no person can be an officebearer in more than 10 trade unions; the change comes after unions opposed the proposal.