Bhopal: A day after the Madhya Pradesh government tweaked industrial and labour laws with the stated objective to attract the investors to the state, disenchanted labour unions have threatened a state-wide protest on May 11.
Calling the amendment “anti-labour” and “pro-capitalist”, trade unions demanded a roll- back of the new labour laws.
Trade unions, including the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) backed Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) have not only criticised the reforms, calling them anti-worker, but have also warned about an agitation against it. The BMS, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) are up in arms against the amendment.
The organisations said that demonstrations will be held across the state on May 11 to oppose the “anti-labour decision”. The demonstrations will keep social distancing guidelines in mind and be between ten to fifteen minutes long.
According to the government, the amendments are intended to attract industries to the state. The Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government tweaked a slew of labour and the industrial laws including provisions for 12-hour work shifts, factories operating for longer, workers termination norms, third party inspection of factories and the like (See: Major amendments). Chouhan spelt out these amendments while addressing the media on Thursday. "We have to convert this crisis into an opportunity," he said.
Uniting against the new laws, trade unions held a meeting on Friday to discuss the consequences of the amendments and plan on submitting a joint memorandum to the state government on Monday.
Pramod Pradhan, state General Secretary of the Left-backed CITU said that the decisions regarding pay cuts and longer hours of work are “anti-poor” decisions and have been taken only to appease industrialists. He called the moves pro-capitalist and pro-industry initiatives.
BMS state General Secretary K.P. Singh said: “The union is against this move and its leaders will personally talk to CM Chouhan and urge him to withdraw the amendment,” he said.
Shyam Sunder Yadav, state General Secretary of the Congress-backed INTUC said that while regular inspection of industries is important to keep a check on safety measures, “but relaxations on inspection of small units may result in accidents. The recent accidents in factories and the gas-leak in Andhra Pradesh are the best examples of it. Amendments related to the number of workers in any industry is against the rights of workers,” he added.
In a joint statement, trade unions, including CITU and INTUC, Roop Singh Chouhan state Vice-President of the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), General Secretary of All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) V.K. Sharma and Joint Secretary of All India Insurance Employees’ Association, Pushan Bhattacharya, have termed the initiatives as permission to “loot the poor”.
Unions fear that amendments to M.P. Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1961 will snatch powers from workers and trade unions. Trade unions also opposed the discontinuation of MP labour Welfare Fund which workers and employers contributed to on a yearly basis.
Industries welcome move:
On other hand, industrial associations welcomed the move and claimed that the reforms are meant to boost industrial activity which has been hit badly by the lockdown due to COVID-19, and create new opportunities for growth and more jobs.
State chairman of the Federation of India Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) Dinesh Patidar said, “The reforms will further strengthen ease of doing business in the state and will play a key role in attracting new investments to the state.”
The move will smooth out operations of the industries, he explained, adding: “Our work forces will benefit from these measures and there will be huge scope in creation of new job opportunities.”
-Registration / license in one day instead of 30. The entire process is going online. Start-ups need a one-time registration and no longer have to renew it.
-Renewal of factory license every 10 years instead of annually.
-Under contract labour act, license will be issued for the entire contract period instead of calendar year.
- Workers of industries to be set up with the state over the next 1,000 days will not be able to go to labour court. Any dispute between the factory management and workers will be resolved outside the court.
- Industries with less than 100 labourers have been granted exemption from MP Industrial Employment (Permanent order) Act.
- Industries Employment act will now be applicable to establishments with more than 100 workers. This will give relief to small industries and they will be able to employ workers as per their requirement.
- Factories can maintain a single register instead of 61 under labour laws and file a single return instead of 13 returns.
- Self-certification will suffice for filing of return
- Factories exempt from inspection for three months. Employers will be allowed to have third party inspection of the factory by an inspector of their choice.