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Realisation of a long-felt need

Realisation of a long-felt need
Highlights

Realisation of a Long-Felt Need. One of the crying needs ever since economic reforms were unveiled 24 years ago has been reforms in laws relating to industrial workers. Boosting entrepreneurship and creating conditions to boost production have become primary to the managing of the economy.

The legislations passed by the Rajya Sabha deserve qualified support. The definition of ‘small’ enterprises has been changed from 19 workers to up to 40. The very small ones with less than ten workers on the roll have been exempted from filing returns and maintaining registers.

New Delhi: One of the crying needs ever since economic reforms were unveiled 24 years ago has been reforms in laws relating to industrial workers. Boosting entrepreneurship and creating conditions to boost production have become primary to the managing of the economy.

In such a situation, successive governments have shown lack of will and have been increasingly perceived as favouring the employers, if not exactly anti-worker. Unsurprisingly, the government’s effort at amending the labour laws has met with mixed response.

Giving the move a political or ideological twist may not be easy. But fact remains that two major national parties, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress, along with regional ones who have little or no base among, or interest in the industrial workers, collaborated in pushing a clutch of legislations.

Those of the Left opposed. The CPI (Marxist) and the CPI, their strength fast dwindling in and outside legislatures, had no choice but to stage a protest walk-out. Labour unions affiliated to these parties have now taken the only course open to them: a countryside protest on December 5.

Viewed nationally, that the Janata Dal (United) and the Trinamool Congress joined the protest walk-out is of marginal importance. Their role has got to be against the government at the Centre. Of the two, Mamata ‘Didi’ Banerjee has triple compulsions: she has to sustain her opposition to the Left in her home base, West Bengal, she has also to prevent erosion of support among the workers and she must be seen in opposition to the BJP that is greedily eyeing her state.

The legislation passed by the Rajya Sabha deserve qualified support. The definition of ‘small’ enterprises has been changed from 19 workers to up to 40. The very small ones with less than ten workers on the roll have been exempted from filing returns and maintaining registers.

The function of Employees’ Provident Fund has been sought to be streamlined with the provision of a Universal Account Number with portability and transparency. This is a good augury for workers who retire after long years in service, who have to rush from pillar to post to get their dues.

Extensive building and other construction work taking place across the country has led to uprooting of farms and farm labourers and their migration to the cities. Since they have no permanent employment and employers, it is essential that the government protects their interests through good legislation and ensure their enforcement. Industrial units in different states would be governed by central laws to avoid overlapping and contradictions.

All this would depend largely upon how effectively and diligently the new law is enforced. There is a need to protect workers’ interests by all concerned to allow collective bargaining and prevent industrial violence like the one witnessed in the plants of automakers, Maruti and Honda. A tea garden owner was beaten to death in West Bengal only last week.

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