The Modi government’s ambitious labour reform agenda may take a while to be implemented as the 46th Indian Labour Conference (ILC) that concluded in New Delhi on Tuesday could not reach a consensus on many contentious proposals and resolved to hold tripartite consultations.
Labour and employment minister Bandaru Dattatreya told FE that government would once again discuss with labour unions their disagreements on the reform proposals and the code on industrial relations would not be tabled in the current session of Parliament even as the reform process would be carried forward.
“Labour unions are not opposing to labour reforms in totality. But they have lot of apprehensions about trade unionism. We are taking care of that. Only tripartite mechanism can led to a consensus. I am hopeful of that also. Tripartite mechanism will continue. The code on industrial relations would not be tabled in Parliament this time. Left-over disagreements will be sorted out through discussions. Reforms will continue,” he said.
Five conference committees were set up to recommend on the five-agenda taken up for discussion at the two-day ILC. Representatives of the labour unions, employers’ organisations and the Union and state governments, are the members of the committee. The conference committee, deliberating on the proposed labour law amendments, recommended that rights and welfare of workers, sustainability of enterprises and job creation and industrial peace would be taken into account while bringing in any changes in the extant laws.”The committee recommends that the overall exercise of the labour law amendments should be discussed in the tripartite forum and the broad and specific proposals should also be discussed in tripartite meetings,” it said.
Inaugurating the two-day annual affair, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Monday said labour reforms would be attempted only with the consensus among all stakeholders.
The government has embarked on labour law overhaul by merging 44 extant laws into four codes aimed at ensuring “ease of doing business”, where India ranks at the pitiable rank of 142 in the world, and turning into reality its stated objective of making India the global manufacturing hub.
The draft labour code on industrial relations readied by the Modi government, among other things, suggests allowing more establishments to lay off workers without prior government approval, making it tough to form trade unions and bar professional politicians from becoming union leaders.
All central trade unions, including BJP-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) is at odds with several of the proposals in the code and said unions won’t allow reforms “at the cost of labour”. They have called for a nation-wide strike on September 2.
The draft labour code proposes to amalgamate three labour laws, including the Trade Unions Act, 1926, Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946, and Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.