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An amended industrial disputes act should not assume a confrontational relationship between workers and management, says a report by the Centre for Public Affairs and Critical Theory, Shiv Nadar University.
“The law should reduce the number of thresholds – whether in terms of the size of the enterprise or the number of days worked,” says the centre’s head, sociologist Dipankar Gupta.
Among the key recommendations:
· No matter the size of the company, all workers should be on the muster rolls with appointment letters, full wages and benefits. The present system has a worker receiving full pay only on completion of 240 days of continuous employment – which results in large scale hiring of temporary workers.
· If workers are dismissed, they should receive a severance pay equal to 45 days salary for every year of work, as well as gratuity and so on.
. “This will mean dismissal is possible, but that there is a cost to the management for doing so,” says Gupta. This would end the practice of any firm with over 100 workers needing to notify the government before dismissal.
· The hiring of incidental workers must be restricted to 5% of a firm’s muster and be done through labour contractors who must put these workers on their musters.
· The only threshold is for firms with less than 20 employees. These would have a simpler dispute resolution mechanism and the right to have 20% of their workers as incidental.
· The report recommends the creation of workers’ council in each factory that are elected by secret ballot, drawn from those who actually work on site. The council would have a single seat on the company’s board. The report makes other suggestions on child labour, training and so on. The centre will formally release the report on August 29 at the India International Centre. “The authors consulted labour lawyers, union leaders and management,” said Gupta.