Increased work hours, action against workers not reporting to duty, among CII’s recommendations to Labour Minister

The CII representatives had a meeting with Labour and Employment Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar on Friday

Published - May 09, 2020 11:06 am IST - NEW DELHI:

The Confederation on Indian Industries (CII) has recommended that the government issue guidelines directing workers to join back, and those not reporting back be liable for action under the Employment Standing Order Act and Industrial Dispute Act.

The recommendation, along with several others, were made during a meeting between the CII representatives and Labour and Employment Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar on Friday.

“To issue a circular/guideline from the Ministry of Labour & Employment to direct workers to join back to their workplace. In case workers are not reporting back, they should be liable for action under the Employment Standing Order Act and Industrial Dispute Act,” the recommendations said.

It added that States need to put the revision of minimum wages on hold for at least one year and that normal working hours of the employees across sectors are increased by allowing four hours overtime per day. “For working overtime, workers would be paid in proportion to the normal wages. The workers’ consent has to be taken for the overtime,” it said.

To address the shortage of workforce faced by industry, CII has said that migrant workers residing in shelter homes or available locally near the Industrial belts should be mapped and deployed to the nearest factories.

The industry body also recommended that the provisions of layoff under the Industrial Dispute Act be extended to the commercial establishments as a job retention measure for workers having no work. “For the period of layoff, such workers shall remain on rolls and will get reduced wages along with statutory benefits such as ESIC and PF. To allow industry to pay wages as per the layoff (50% basic plus DA) provisions for the period no work is carried out for the month of April and May 2020,” it said.

It also sought removal of labour advisories issued under Disaster Management (DM) Act that prohibit employers from any wage reduction, layoff and retrenchment of workers. “...the MHA has now eased permissions to private establishments to resume operations. With commencement of economic activity, we request you kindly remove the applicability of DM Act for industry and let the Labour Laws preside.”

On reviewing of labour laws, the industry body said that while government’s initiative towards simplification and rationalization of various labour laws through codification are welcome, given the large-scale impact of these changes across industry and a large chunk of workforce, it is critical to ensure that these changes are not rushed into without addressing industry concerns. “This is especially relevant today when the industry is redefining its business models and working practices in many sectors as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The labour codes should be further reviewed with a view to enable a greater ease of doing business and encourage entrepreneurship.”

The industry has further sought extending the applicability of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana to more establishments. Currently, the scheme is eligible for the organization and wage earner working in establishments employing up to 100 employees, with 90% of employees earning monthly wages less than ₹15,000/- pm. “We have requested that the scheme has a very limited impact hence the scheme is to be extended for organizations having 50-60 % workforce earning up to ₹25,000/-pm This will ensure the benefit of the scheme to more beneficiaries particularly the MSMEs,” it said.

It added that Employees' State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) and the EPFO should take up massive campaigns and draw up a communication strategy to inform workers to join back work. Additionally, to encourage organizations to retain the job offers and promote fresh employment, the Government can consider restarting Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana, it said.

“To consider unutilised fund/unclaimed fund to pay wages to subscribers during the lockdown period i.e. to consider the lockdown period as national emergency of temporary closure of workplace due to natural calamity to help all industries,” the CII said in the four-page recommendations.

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