Unions miffed over withdrawal of Labour Department order

They are met to Chief Secretary today to register their protest and seek security for industrial labour

Karnataka’s Labour Department was to have set up a helpline to assist those in distress within 48 hours of issuing a notification on April 13 asking factories not to reduce wages or retrench employees. However, in a volte face, the government instead withdrew the notification within 48 hours, on Wednesday.

Trade unions are set to meet Chief Secretary T.M. Vijaybhaskar on Friday to register their protest against the withdrawal of the order, and seek security for industrial labour.

Tripartite meeting

Meanwhile, Labour Minister A. Shivaram Hebbar, who met a delegation of trade union leaders on Thursday, convened a tripartite meeting on April 23 to discuss the issue. “We will discuss income and job security for labourers,” M. Satyanand, secretary, AITUC, Bengaluru unit.

Citing a March 29 Union government’s directive, the State government withdrew the earlier order, which had brought some solace to factory employees, especially those on contract or working as casual labour. The order was important in Bengaluru’s context as, according to trade unions, nearly 50% of the labour force in the organised sector is on contract or is casual labour.

‘Under pressure’

Sources said the State government came under “tremendous pressure” from the industry bodies after Labour Secretary P. Manivannan issued the April 13 order under the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, as industries remain closed in view of COVID-19 pandemic. The notification had also asked the employers to consider employees as working even if they were on leave or unable to work from the employed place owing to COVID-19 outbreak.

The employer organisations, including Karnataka Employers’ Association and the Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry, had petitioned the government to withdraw the order.

A senior Labour Department official admitted that the order was withdrawn after the State government insisted that it be withdrawn. The government, in turn, was also under pressure, he added. Mr. Vijaybhaskar was not available for comments.

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 11:13:59 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/unions-miffed-over-withdrawal-of-labour-department-order/article31360429.ece

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