Under pressure from various trade unions, the labour ministry has modified the draft code on industrial relations to accommodate more trade union representatives in an establishment, keeping in mind the interest of workers.
According to the latest proposal in the draft, which has been sent to the law ministry for vetting, for every 10% of a unit’s workers as its members, a union will have a representative to negotiate on disputes with the management.
A trade union with members below 10% of the unit’s workforce will not be recognised. “However, if one trade union within the organisation consists of two-thirds of the workforce, it would become the sole negotiation agent on behalf of the workers,” an official said.
The ministry had earlier suggested that when there are multiple trade unions in an industrial unit, the one having more than 50% of the workers as members would only be recognised as the negotiating agent on behalf of the workers. In case no union has more than 50% strength, more unions would be called for negotiation, provided their cumulative membership is more than 50% of the unit’s workforce. This had angered the unions who saw their turf being eroded.
The official said changes have been made keeping in mind those set of workers who are affiliated to a trade union which does not have the desired majority, but has a sizeable portion of the workers as its members. “They should not feel left out,” he said, adding that CTUs are in agreement with the proposal.
RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh had earlier recommended that for every 15% of voters, there should be one representative from a trade union in the negotiation team. Other CTU representatives also voiced reservations.
Other vexed issues such as barring outsiders from becoming office-bearers in organised sector establishments and putting the cap of two persons per registered trade union in unorganised sector establishments have been retained in the final draft, the official said.
Following vetting by the law ministry, the draft would be presented for the Union Cabinet’s approval. Following this, it would be tabled in Parliament.
The labour ministry has also provided for bestowing free-hand to establishments with 300 workers to resort to closure or retrench workers without the government’s approval from the current limit of 100. It also seeks to raise the retrenchment bonus to 45 days’ wages from the current 15 days.