India is bracing for a massive industrial strike on Wednesday. Ten Central Trade Unions and more than 25 crore people are expected to join in around the nation. Their reason? The proposed Industrial Relations Code .
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“The Industrial Relations Code would replace three older labour laws – Trade Unions Act, 1926, Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946 and The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, according to this labour ministry release.
One contentious provision in the bill is fixed-term contracts, which allow companies to directly hire workers for the short term as opposed to hiring workers permanently or through contractors. This will help sectors that require temporary workers seasonally, such as textiles and manufacturing, industry experts say. But it might be giving too many concessions to employers, said Amit Basole from the Centre for Sustainable Employment at Azim Premji University.
While it offers flexibility to employers, it may impact the number of permanent jobs in such establishments, thereby increasing contractualisation in the workforce.”
According to numerous experts, the impact of these “fixed-term” contracts might be disastrous for the common man. Fixed-term workers may be paid less than permanent employees, with no job security or severance package.
“Globally, workers with fixed-term contracts had a significantly higher rate of transition into unemployment or into inactivity as compared to regular workers, suggesting less stability in work or income for workers on fixed-term contracts, according to a March 2015 International Labour Organization policy brief.”
“The Ministry of Labour has failed to assure on any of the demands of workers which called a meeting on January 2, 2020. The attitude of the government is that of contempt towards labour as we construe from its policies and actions,” the 10 CTUs said in a joint statement.
“We expect participation of not less than 25 crore of working people in the forthcoming National General Strike on January 8, 2020, to be followed by many more actions seeking reversal of the anti-worker, anti-people, anti-national policies of the Government,” it said.”
So, what now?
Most of these grievances are against the Central Government, which has asked public sector employees to dissuade workers from participating in protests and strikes. The Government has also asked its employees to prepare contigency plans so that industries are not negatively affected.
Keep your eyes on this space. We’ll keep you updated.