New Haryana law may hit jobs, growth: stakeholders

‘It is very, very myopic... industry will suffer, not politicians’

Updated - January 20, 2022 02:57 am IST

Published - January 20, 2022 01:07 am IST - GURUGRAM

Uncertain future:   Workers at a cloth manufacturing unit at Gurugram in Haryana.

Uncertain future: Workers at a cloth manufacturing unit at Gurugram in Haryana.

With the law guaranteeing 75% reservation to locals in private sector jobs in Haryana coming into force earlier this month, the reigning sentiment among various stakeholders is one of “disruption”. Industrialists, migrant workers and contractors remain wary of its repercussions on businesses and employment prospects.

The law was one of the major poll promises of Jannayak Janta Party (JJP), the junior partner in the coalition government in Haryana.

Matter in court

Three industry associations from Gurugram, Faridabad and Rewari have sought judicial recourse. In a petition filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, they contended that the new law goes against constitutional provisions and the basic principle of merit underpinning private sector growth. The court has issued notice to the State government and scheduled the next hearing for February 2.

“It is very, very myopic of the political class,” said Manmohan Gaind, general secretary, Manesar Industries Welfare Association, one of the petitioners in the case. “Almost 99% employees in a Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) earn less than ₹30,000 and fall under the purview of the new law. MSMEs hire and lay off workers based on the demand. Finding locals with requisite skills every time would not be possible,” he said.

Mr. Gaind rued that a political decision was taken and implemented without any data or research. “If the migrants don’t find jobs in Haryana, they will straight away head to Noida. It is the industry that will suffer, not the politicians,” he said.

Survey findings

An internal survey by the Garments Exporters and Manufacturers Association last year had revealed that more than 82% may not consider Haryana for expansion in case the new law was not repealed or the industry not exempted from its provisions. An equal number believed that they would not be able to source adequate skilled workers from Haryana only.

Though the law allows relaxation to hire non-locals in certain conditions, the industrialists are sceptical. “If I need people today, I cannot wait for three months for the DC office to grant me permission,” said one.

Three-fourth reservation in jobs would also skew the workforce balance between locals and migrants and disrupt the smooth running of the businesses, feel industry insiders — the locals are by definition more entrenched vis-a-vis the migrants and “difficult to control”.

The migrants too fear rampant job losses. Though the residency condition for a domicile certificate under the new law has been reduced to five years from 15, Jalauddin Ansari, member, Gurgaon Shramik Sangathan, said “it is a distant dream for a migrant who cannot even get a ration card or a voter identity card after staying here for years”.

JJP’s chief media co-ordinator, Deep Kamal Saharan, however, said the law has enough caveats in place. “On exemptions, the authorities need to respond in a time-bound manner and pass the order within 15 days,” Mr. Saharan said.

New start-ups and IT/ITES companies are exempted for two years under the new law and short-term works, extending up to 45 days, have been kept out of its purview. “The fears of the industry are unfounded,” said Mr. Saharan, justifying the law.

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