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'Labour reforms critical to enhance competitiveness'

Taking a note of rampant strikes and lockouts, where WB was on top, the Economic Survey has underlined the need for labour law reforms to enhance productivity.

india Updated: Feb 27, 2006 14:01 IST

Taking a note of rampant strikes and lockouts, where Left-ruled West Bengal was on top, the Economic Survey has underlined the need for labour law reforms to enhance productivity and competitiveness of the Indian industry.

"The importance of reforming the labour laws to enhance productivity, competitiveness, employment generation and general economic reforms hardly needs emphasis," the Survey tabled by Finance Minister P Chidambaram in Parliament said.

Noting that the number of strikes and lockouts in January-September 2005 period stood at 340, which came out to more than one strike per day, it said West Bengal experienced maximum instances of industrial unrest followed by Tamil Nadu and Gujarat.

The industrial disturbances were concentrated mainly in textiles, engineering, chemicals and food products industries.

It, however, noted that there was a decline in the number of strikes and lockouts during 2000-04. "The number of strikes and lockouts went down 13.6 per cent from 552 in 2003 to 477 in 2004, with a sharper decline in strikes than in lockouts.

The Survey said while the decline in the total number of man-days lost on account of strikes and lockouts by 6.39 million between 2003 and 2004 indicated an improvement in industrial relations, the number of man-days lost on account of strikes alone actually increased.

"Most of these strikes and lockouts were in private establishments on account of wages and personnel issues," the survey said.

It, however, noted that steps have already been initiated to rectify concerns on these fronts. "A beginning has already been made in this direction."

It pointed out that the Payment of Wages (Amendment) Act 2005 proposes to enhance the wage ceiling from the present levels of Rs 1,600 per month to Rs 6,500 per month and also empower the Central government to increase it further by way of notification.

The survey also made a mention of the Factories (Amendment) Bill 2005, which proposes to provide flexibility and safety to the women employees, and seeks amendment of Labour Laws (Exemption from furnishing returns and maintaining registers by certain establishments) Act, 1998 to simplify the procedure for maintaining registers and filing returns.

First Published: Feb 27, 2006 14:01 IST