Exploitative enslavement

Updated on: Jan 15, 2018

AB Sivakumar’s ‘Folly of hiring technical contract staff’ (November 2) brings into focus a grey area in HR management in all sectors in India. There is real confusion at the highest level about regular employment, ‘outsourcing of work’ and contract work assignments. While contract labour may be the continuation of ‘bonded labour’ practised in farms, factories and mines, large-scale outsourcing of work was an antidote to militant trade unionism which fought mechanisation and introduction of IT in the 1970s and 1980s.

Policymakers did not take the long and tough route of counselling the trade union leadership and taking the workforce into confidence by assuring them that IT is not about job elimination but about improving efficiency through skill development. They adopted a shortcut by encouraging ‘outsourcing’ of IT-enabled work to new generation companies with a modern outlook on luring, hiring and firing. The social cost of the sagging morale among workers in the organised sector and the creation of an inefficient and socially insecure workforce is a subject for study.

MG Warrier

Mumbai

Despite everything, employers continue to employ contract labour because they are seen as efficient (due to fear of losing the job), cheap (underpaid) and dispensable (little legal protection for job security). However, in a recent judgment, the Supreme Court called the practice of unequal pay for equal work “exploitative enslavement” and violation of “basic human dignity”. Will this induce employers to give up the practice?

Y G Chouksey

Pune

Company Board Bureau

‘Where are the independent directors in PSUs?’ by Pratim Ranjan Bose (November 2) is an eye-opener. Private sector companies also are at fault. Independent directors are not really independent; they are independent only technically speaking.

Many are former bureaucrats, regulatory officials and bankers, and the position is a sort of ‘thank you’ after their retirement. It is not their expertise that is being made use of; it is their connections. Few women qualify on these counts, perhaps that’s why the mandatory appointment of women is not even 50 per cent committed to.

What is required is a company board bureau on the lines of the Bank Board Bureau for selection of independent directors for companies, both in the private and public sectors.

This will ensure adequate professional managerial expertise and a balancing of minority interest in companies.

PD Sankaranarayanan

Thiruvananthapuram

Unacceptable ‘encounter’

It is evident that the killing of 8 undertrials by the Madhya Pradesh police in Bhopal constitutes gross violation of human rights. They were undertrials, not convicted terrorists. Instead of promising action against the policemen who pumped bullets into the unarmed men and apprehending them, the State government has given them a clean chit. The post-mortem reports showed that the police did not follow standard operating procedure. The scene of encounter bore no evidence of attack or resistance.

The incident that has evoked chilling reminders of fake encounters in Gujarat has stressed the need to humanise the police force and tell them that they cannot get away with murder. It focusses on the need to expedite the trials of those languishing in prison. The BJP has invoked ‘national security’ to vindicate the extra-judicial encounter and branded as ‘anti-national’ those who questioned the government narrative. It is worrying that that the ruling dispensation is equivocal about the substitution of the police for the judiciary and sets a dangerous trend of dispensing with the judiciary in exceptional contexts.

G David Milton

Maruthancode, Tamil Nadu

Erratum

In the story, ‘Post acquisition of Carat Lane, Titan mulls revamp of jewellery portfolio’ (October 20), the designation of Mr CK Venkataraman was incorrectly mentioned as Chief Operating Officer of Titan Industries. He is in fact CEO, Jewellery Division, Titan Company Limited. The error is regretted.

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Published on November 02, 2016
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