KARNATAKA

Unions plan action against changes to labour laws

: A slew of changes in labour legislations proposed by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has brought 11 Central Trade Unions (CTUs), with a wide spectrum of political affiliations, on a common platform.

The CTUs — including those backed by the Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Left parties — met late last week and decided to hold a joint national convention in New Delhi in the first week of September to plan action against what they call “unilateral” moves by the government to amend labour laws. The CTUs, in a joint statement issued after the meeting, said the amendments were being pushed through in a hurry despite an earlier assurance by Labour Minister Narendra Singh Tomar that they would be consulted.

They said the amendments would have “serious negative impact on working conditions, including trade union rights of workers.” The amendments were aimed at empowering employers to retrench or lay off workers, declare closure at will and resort to large-scale contractualisation, they said.

The 11 CTUs include Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) and Trade Union Coordination Committee (TUCC).

This comes in the wake of the amendments being approved by the Union Cabinet to three key legislations, The Factories Act, 1948, the Apprentices Act, 1961, and the Labour Laws (Exemption from Furnishing Returns and Maintaining Registers by Certain Establishments) Act, 1988. There are also proposals on amending the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, and the Minimum Wages Act, 1948.

The unions are objecting to amendments such as doubling overtime provision from 50 hours a quarter to 100 hours, enhancing the minimum number of apprentices employable per quarter from 50 to 100 per unit and changing the definition of small establishments from those hiring up to 40 employees from the existing 10.

The CTUs have also written to their affiliated and fraternal units in States to launch campaigns. Tapan Sen of CITU, in his letter to the Karnataka unit, has said they need to “prepare ground” ahead of the national convention to defend the legal rights of workers.

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