The move would require amendment in the Indian Trade Unions Act, 1926, and would give some power to the Centre to look into trade union matters which have so far been only under the purview of state governments.
At present ,we have no power to intervene in the matter of registration of trade unions. We can take an action only when there is non-compliance with the Act. With this amendment, we can intervene if the need be, a labour ministry official said.
Once the amendment is in place, the registrars will have to dispose applications within 45 days. In case it rejects an application, the workers can go to the court and its decision would be binding on both. The development gains significance since the registrar of trade unions based in Chandigarh had taken more than 45 days to respond to an application of a new union by the workers at Maruti 's Manesar plant.
According to the head of the workers at this facility, Shiv Kumar, the workers had put an application for being allowed to form a new union for Manesar - Maruti Suzuki Employees Union (MSEU) on June 3 this year. However, the registrar refused to grant status on July 26 since the workers at MSEU wanted to co-opt a handful of its office bearers from the union of Marutis Gurgaon plant, Maruti Udyog Kamgar Union as well. The amendment will take another six months to come into force and would bring relief to trade unions which have threatened to go on an agitation from November 8, demanding compulsory registration.
The central trade unions including INTUC, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, Indian National Trade Union Congress, All India Trade Union Congress, Hind Mazdoor Sabha, Centre of Indian Trade Unions,and All India United Trade Union Centre have already announced to go on a country-wide agitation on November 8.
Beside compulsory registration, the unions are also demanding amendment in the minimum wage Act to ensure universal coverage, removal of all ceiling on payment of eligibility of bonus and provident fund and increase in the quantum of gratuity. This would restrict the interference of corporates in the registration of workers unions. There have been lot of instances where our applications have been rejected on flimsy grounds. That would stop with such provision, DL Sachdev, national secretary of AITUC, said.