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Tuesday, Aug 03, 2004

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Maharashtra, CII to set up task force soon

Sudha Menon

Pune , Aug. 2

THE State Government's Labour Ministry is all set to announce a task force with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) to jointly chart out a detailed guideline within which the State's large industry community will evolve a comprehensive package for its family of contract workers.

A notification to this effect is expected in the next week and the first sitting of the joint task force is expected to be held in mid-August, top sources told Business Line on Saturday.

The CII delegation met the Chief Minister, Mr Sushilkumar Shinde, and the State Labour Minister, Mr Satish Chaturvedi, a couple of weeks ago with the proposal of setting up such a task force which would tackle the issues of work conditions, remuneration and misuse of existing contract labour regulations in the State.

Top sources said the CII's move to approach the State Government was fuelled by a campaign initiated by the Labour Minister's office to summon and question large corporate houses on various aspects of their contract labour. The meetings, which was attended by senior representatives of the corporate houses concerned, involved making presentations about their contract labour policy to a gathering of the Labour Minister himself, representatives of the unions and the association of contract workers, among others.

"While we appreciate that there is exploitation of contract labour in the industry, the campaign is being done randomly. What is worse is that the companies are sent back home with the diktat that they are to come back with proposals on how they will correct the prevailing issues with their contract labour, in a time frame of a week," a senior industry leader said. Among the corporate biggies who have been summoned by the Labour Ministerin the recent past are Hindustan Lever Ltd, L&T, Bharat Forge, Tata Motors and Thermax.

Interestingly, the Labour Minister seems to have been impartial in the campaign to eradicate the contract labour exploitation menace. Among those who were also summoned to his meeting are also the City and Industrial Development Corporation and the Nagpur Municipal Corporation. Industry leaders who spoke to this newspaper on the condition of anonymity point out that the entire campaign reeks of discrimination.

"The organised sector employer is only a small part of the scenario. There is rampant exploitation of contract labour in the unorganised sector, in the service sector and in the huge agriculture sector. And don't forget, the Government is one of the largest employers of contract labour in the country, be it the police force or the Railways,'' a senior industry leader said.

Others point out that with virtually no exit policy allowed just now, corporates resort to contract labour for jobs that are seasonal in nature and to deal with the uncertainties in-built in business. The industry is also pointing out that with the Assembly elections around the corner in the State, the ruling Congress-NCP Government is pulling out all stops to ensure that they rake in the maximum amount of support from all quarters, including labour.

More Stories on : Labour Reforms | Maharashtra | Industry Associations

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