GUWAHATI, Aug 2 - Opposing the Centre�s move to �reform� the labour laws and bring in four new codes instead of the existing laws, the National Platform of Domestic Workers and the Centre for Development Initiative, Guwahati, today said the new codes would deprive the workers of their rights.
The organisations demanded immediate withdrawal of the Central codes and enactment of comprehensive legislations, incorporating the informal sector workers, with special focus on domestic workers.
Addressing the media here, Dhiren Goswami, who is associated with the two organisations, said under the proposed labour law reforms, four new labour codes have been developed. �The Industrial Relations Code (replacing three labour laws), the Code on Wages (replacing four labour laws), the Code on Social Security (replacing 15 laws) and the Code on Occupational Safety and Health and Working conditions (replacing 16 laws) combine 38 existing labour laws, all of which were achieved through years of struggle by the working class,� he said.
Raising the issues of the informal sector that engages more than 90 per cent of the work force of the country, the organisations said while trade unions are struggling for greater recognition of workers and regulation of the conditions of employment, the Centre is ushering in new labour reforms that seek to negate all the gains of labour struggles.
�Increasing the threshold of retrenchment of employees to 300, undefined roles and powers of the welfare boards meant for both the organised and unorganised sectors of workers, minuscule representation of the unorganised sector in such boards, are some of the concerns of the unorganised sector which need to be addressed,� said Ashis Biswas, general secretary of the Hind Mazdoor Sangh.
�Right to collective bargaining and the right to strike have been made complicated and easily illegal, and the threshold of the workers in factories will be increased to 300, which means that all small factories will be out of the control of labour laws, without permission from the Government, lay-offs and closures can take place in companies employing up to 300 workers, tripartite character in negotiations has been removed with the Government taking a back seat.
�No non-worker or retired worker will be permitted to take leadership positions in trade unions, especially in the unorganised sector, and the struggle of equal pay for equal work has been diluted which will impinge on the rights of women,� Biswas added.
The organisations have also approached the Union Labour Minister as well as the Petition Committee of the Lok Sabha, demanding withdrawal of the Central codes.
Like domestic workers who fall in the informal sector, there are several other sectors of workers that remain informal. Although some provisions of the labour law reforms are welcome, the new codes in the name of globalisation and �ease of doing business� abolish many important protective provisions.