Labour min wants one workers’ union to have negotiating right

By: | Published: October 6, 2015 1:04 AM

That one trade union must have more than 50% of the total permanent workers as members

Industrial establishments with 15-20 trade unions are common in India. The management often finds it difficult to bring all of them on board while negotiating on any vexed issue. Workers also find their bargaining position undermined owing to differences among the multiple trade unions over an issue.

The labour ministry wants to address this issue by vesting the negotiating right of workers with one trade union which will have more than 50% of the total permanent workers as members.

However, in case no trade union in an establishment has more than 50% of the workers as  members, then more unions would be called for negotiation, provided their cumulative membership is more than 50% of the unit’s workforce.

A highly-placed labour ministry official said the proposal has been discussed in a meeting of the sub-committee earlier where some of the central trade union (CTU) leaders were present. The proposal would come up for discussion in Tuesday’s tripartite meeting where representatives of CTUs, states and employer representatives would be present.

“The proposal to have one trade union with more than 50% workers as members as the negotiating agent has been incorporated in the latest draft keeping in view to make the negotiation process a healthier one,” an official said, adding the proposal keeps interests of workers in mind and aims to provide breathing space for the management as well. Such recognition of a trade union/unions would be valid for four years from the date of recognition, he added.

The government has embarked on merging the 44 extant labour Acts into four codes. The code on Industrial Relations is a merger of three extant Acts. “The move to have only those bodies with 50% of majority is an intelligent move to encourage meaningful dialogue to protect workers interests and keep away petty histrionics. I would urge the government to restrict one major trade union to have the right to negotiate rather than allow for 50% representation through multiple unions as that can become the route for further fragmentation of allegiance of workers to more than one union,” said Rituparna Cha-kraborty, senior vice president, Teamlease Services.

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