Mass casual leave to be treated as strike

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on November 28, 2019 Published on November 28, 2019

The IR Labour Code prescribes a notice period of 14 days for a strike   -  Singam Venkataramana

Govt introduces Bill in LS amalgamating three labour laws

Any mass casual leave by workers will be treated as a strike, if the Industrial Relations Code Bill becomes law. The Bill, introduced in the Lok Sabha, proposes to modify the definition of strike.

The Bill, introduced by Labour Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar, also defines ‘fixed term employment’ and sets conditions before certain establishments can lay off staff. Though Opposition parties such as the Congress protested against the Bill terming it ‘anti-labour’ and demanded that it be referred to the Department-related Standing Committee, no decision was taken. The Minister assured the House that nothing in the Bill is against the rights of workers.

According to the Bill, ‘strike’ means cessation “of work by a body of persons employed in any industry acting in combination, or a concerted refusal, or a refusal,under a common understanding, of any number of persons who are or have been so employed to continue to work or to accept employment and includes concerted casual leave on a given day by 50 per cent or more workers. It also prescribes a notice of 14 days for a strike.

This is one of the four codes aimed at simplifying existing laws. Accordingly, the IR Code intends to amalgamate, simplify and rationalise the relevant provisions of the Trade Unions Act, 1926, the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946; and the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. This amalgamation will end the multiplicity of definitions and authorities without compromising on the basic concepts of welfare of, and benefits to, workers. The Industrial Relations Code, 2019 would bring in the use of technology for enforcement. All these measures would bring transparency and accountability leading to more effective enforcement. The ease of compliance of labour laws is expected to promote setting up of more enterprises, leading to more job creation.

Fixed term employment

The IR Code defines the expression ‘fixed term employment’ as engagement of a worker on the basis of a written contract for a fixed period. The fixed term employee will get all statutory benefits such as wages and social security on a par with the regular employee doing same/similar work. The Code obliges mines, factories and plantations with hundred or more workers to take government permission before lay-off, retrenchment or closure. The appropriate government will be empowered to modify the threshold number of workers, by notification. In case of retrenchment, the Code provides for the setting up of a re-skilling fund for such employees; employers will contribute 15 days wages or any other number of days as may be notified by the Centre to this fund.

Trade Union

The IR Cod suggests a single negotiating union in an industrial establishment for dealing with the employer. In case of more than one trade union, the one with the support of 75 per cent or more workers on the muster-roll would be designated the negotiator. If no union has such support, then a negotiating council is to be set up.

Published on November 28, 2019
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