RSS-affiliated trade union opposes Haryana’s labour law amendments

Chandigarh: RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) has demanded a rollback of the labour law amendments passed by the Haryana Assembly on Wednesday.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Haryana passed amendments to four labour laws – Factories Act, Industrial Disputes Act, Contract Labour Act and Payment of Wages Act – to ease retrenchment in factories, give flexibility to employers for hiring contract labour and allow small factories to be exempted from labour laws, among other changes.

The changes will, however, require President’s assent as these labour laws fall under the concurrent list, where the states might legislate and Centre gives the final approval.

The BMS alleged similar labour law changes in Rajasthan has led to factory unrests in the State rather than industrial development.

“Reports have suggested that there are reasons other than labour laws that are hindrance to industrial development. The Rajasthan government was the first one to initiate this (labour law amendment) but that didn’t lead to industrial development but only caused industrial unrests,” BMS General Secretary Virjesh Upadhyay said in a statement. Mr. Upadhyay said the trade unions will hold demonstrations in the state against these amendments.

After the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government came to power in May 2014, Haryana has become the fourth state to pass its own labour law amendments in Assembly. The three other states were Rajasthan, followed by Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh – all ruled by BJP.

Although the NDA government has proposed a slew of labour law changes, it is also pushing the states to go for their own labour law amendments.

In Haryana, the Factories Act will now apply to factories with 40 workers, if without electricity and 20 workers, if with electricity, instead of factories with 20 workers and 10 workers respectively, at present. This will allow small factories to be exempted from the purview of the Factories Act, 1948. Other amendments in the Factories Act added a provision to compound offences for first-time offenders so that a fine may be given instead of going to the courts.

Some labour law changes passed by Haryana Assembly:

Industrial Disputes Act

Firms with up to 300 workers can retrench without permission from government (at present only 100 workers firms can do so)

Contract Labour Act

Act will apply to firms with up to 50 workers, up from 20 workers at present

Factories Act

Law will apply to factories with 40 workers (without electricity) and 20 workers, with electricity, up from 20 and 10 workers respectively

Payment of Wages Act

The existing limit for receiving wages in cash for those earning up to Rs 18,000 is removed