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Legislation to ease labour pangs stuck

A CEO’s murder in Noida, allegedly by sacked employees, is a cause of worry for corporate heads, given the lay-off fears across the globe.

delhi Updated: Sep 24, 2008 00:52 IST
Prasad Nichenametla

A CEO’s murder in Noida, allegedly by sacked employees, is a cause of worry for corporate heads, given the lay-off fears across the globe. Lack of a proper grievance redressal mechanism for employees is being felt more in these trying times than ever before.

Amendments to the Industrial Disputes Act 1947, proposed about six years ago during the National Democratic Alliance government still await approval. The changes were to provide for a grievance redressal authority, apart from other reforms, to address labour disputes. The labour ministry is now stuck, as other other ministries have raised queries.

Minster for Labour and Employment Oscar Fernanades on Monday said that the Noida ‘murder’ was caused by the simmering discontent among the worker class.

“We would bring the amendment Bill in the coming Parliament session," he said.

But that might not be the case as his ministry is still locked in inter-ministerial consultations. "As it is a Bill with some far-reaching provisions, some ministries have expressed their concerns. Anyway, we hope to reach the Cabinet very soon," a labour minister official said.

Trade unions also favour a speedier redressal mechanism for industrial disputes. “Noida-like incidents are deplorable but it points to the lack of proper conciliation mechanisms in our units,” said Gurudas Dasgupta, general secretary, All India Trade Union Congress.

He added that given the current cumbersome process of dealing with industrial disputes, there is a need for a “time-bound approach” to settle such matters.

What’s worrisome is that there is no consensus yet in sight on other subjects, like lay-offs and retrenchments. Trade unions don’t want existing laws diluted, as the changes maygo against the worker; employers, however, want flexibility in hiring and firing.

Industry bodies, like the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), said they were favour of considering better compensation for laid-off workers.

But they want the government to do away with the prior permission required by the industries employing more than 100 workers to lay off the workers.