Uttarakhand’s labour and industrial law changes termed anti-worker by Congress
The Uttarakhand assembly passed 18 amendment bills including five for labour and industrial reforms and one for amendment in Char-Dham Devasthanam Management Act, amid pandemonium by opposition Congress MLAs during the one-day session on Wednesday in Dehradun.
The session, curtailed to one day from three days schedule, decided earlier, was attended by 42 MLAs, while 14 MLAs attended the proceedings through virtual platforms in the 71-member House. All the bills were tabled and passed on the same day with the session having no Question Hour.
Among the bills passed by the House, five were related to labour and industrial reforms in the state aimed to increase the ease of doing business.
In one of the bills pertaining to labour reforms, named The Trade Unions (Uttarakhand Amendment) Bill, 2020, an amendment was passed, which said --- “no such (labour) union will be registered unless 30% of the workmen engaged or employed in the establishment or industry are the members of such trade union on the date of making the application for registration.”
The earlier required percentage of workmen was 10% or hundred in number, whichever was less.
According to another bill named The Payment of Bonus (Uttarakhand Amendment) Bill 2020, ‘every employer in respect of the accounting year shall be bound to pay a minimum bonus to every employee in that accounting year in which the employer has any allocated (money) surplus.’ It was also passed.
As per the bill named The Industrial Disputes (Uttarakhand Amendment) Bill, 2020 passed by the house, the government can exempt any new industrial establishment or new undertaking from all or any of the provisions of the Act for a period of 1,000 days from the date of the establishment of such new industrial unit conditionally or unconditionally by notification in the official Gazette.
The trade unions, Opposition Congress and experts, however, termed the bills passed as “anti-labour” which, they claimed will affect their social security.
Daljeet Singh, president of a labour union of a manufacturing company in Pantnagar area of Kumaon compared the bills with laws of British Raj.
“These are equivalent to those during the British Raj which were meant to exploit the labourers. We strongly condemn these and will soon hit the roads against this pro-capitalist government in the state,” said Singh.
Congress MLA Qazi Nizamuddin, who was present inside the House said, “The bills passed in the name of labour reforms and in favour of ease of doing business, are actually anti-labour and pro-industry.”
“Toeing the line of BJP led NDA government at the Centre, the state government here is bringing such laws to suppress the labour class and promote crony capitalism. We have been against such moves and will continue to protest against them,” he said.
Legal expert Dushyant Mainali said the “bills will majorly affect the social security of the labourers”.
“These Labour Laws or Industrial Disputes Act provides a platform to the labour and marginalised class to fight for their rights. But these bills seem to deprive them of that and impact their social security. This will also impact their productivity at work when they will come to know that their job is not secure,” said Mainali.
The House also passed an amendment in the Char-Dham Devasthanam Management Act through a bill named Uttarakhand Char Dham Devasthanam Management (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
Under the amendment, the Char Dham devasthanam management board may ‘acquire land in or around the vicinity of the religious devasthanams and other places it would deem proper for its better development in favour of Char-Dham.’
The House also passed some other bills regarding amendment in the Epidemic Diseases Act and deduction of salaries and other allowances of the members of state Assembly for which it had earlier passed ordinances during the lockdown.
Through the amendment in The Epidemic Diseases Act, the government has made violations of Covid-19 provisions a punishable offence with imprisonment up to six months or a fine of ₹ 5,000 or both. The offences will, however, be cognizable and bailable.
The amendment bill related to deduction of 30% of salary and other benefits of the members of state assembly was also passed following which the deduction has come into effect from April 1, 2020 till March 31, 2021.