Representational image | Wikimedia Commons
A factory worker | Representational image | Commons
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New Delhi: RSS affiliate Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) has raised objections to the new Industrial Relations Code cleared by Parliament Wednesday, describing it as a clear attempt to diminish the role of trade unions.

“BMS and other trade unions had given detailed objections to the previous draft of the Industrial Relations Code. None of the objections raised by BMS and other trade unions as well as the recommendations of thePSCL (parliamentary standing committee on labour) in favour of workers are considered in the revised draft,” the BMS, which seeks to represent labourers, said in a media statement.

The Industrial Relations Code is one of three laws aimed at effecting labour reforms that were passed by Parliament Wednesday. It seeks to consolidate and amend laws relating to trade unions, conditions of employment in industrial establishments or undertaking, investigation and settlement of industrial disputes. The other two deal with occupational safety and health, and social security.

A fourth code, on wages, was passed by Parliament last year. Together, the four codes replace over 29 labour laws.

According to the BMS, the Industrial Relations Code is tilted too much in favour of employers and civil servants. The “last-minute mutilations will adversely affect industrial peace in the country”, the BMS said in its statement.

“The ensuing national conference of BMS to be held on 2, 3 and 4 October 2020 will decide the future course of action on the anti-worker provisions in the labour codes,” it added.

Also Read: RSS affiliates join farm bill chorus, want MSP for farmers in open market too

Objections raised

Among other things, the BMS has objected to the Industrial Relations Code provision that requires a single trade union to be identified as sole negotiator in establishments where there are more than one. For a trade union to be identified as sole negotiator, it has to have the support of more than 75 per cent of employees.

“This is an overt attempt to monopolise a single union and eliminate all other unions,” the BMS said.

Another point of contention is the fact that factories with up to 300 workers can now fire staff without government permission, while the threshold earlier stood at 100.

“The most controversial chapter… on prior permission for layoff, retrenchment and closure is exempted upto three hundred workers. It will promote ‘ease of closing business’ not ‘ease of doing business’,” it alleged.

The Industrial Relations Code, it said, is full of attempts to replace the power of Parliament with that of civil servants, pointing to a rule that allows the “bureaucracy… (to) dispense with the condition of previous publication of such rules for public scrutiny”.

They have also objected to the fact that the proposed national industrial tribunals to be set up under the code — for the adjudication of industrial disputes that involve questions of national importance or establishments in more than one state — will include a joint secretary as member. The other person on the two-member panel will be a retired high court judge.

“In the previous draft, persons with ability, knowledge and experience was the criteria. That is now replaced by mere joint secretary rank,” it said.

Just days ago, the BMS, along with another RSS affiliate, the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, had also opposed the Modi government’s farm bills, also passed during the monsoon session of Parliament.

Also Read: Govt moving in wrong direction: RSS-affiliate BMS slams latest economic package


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