Two crucial labour bills have ostensibly been delayed as the RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) has demanded key changes in the proposed laws to govern Indian industries.
After holding an important meeting in the national capital, BMS National President Saji Narayanan said: “We have objected to certain provisions in the new laws which, we think, are anti-worker. We hope the government would make expected changes.”
As BMS, one of the largest trade unions in the country pushes ahead with its pro-worker agenda, sources said that Union Ministry of Labour and Employment is again vetting the bills on a top priority.
Talking to the IANS on the sidelines of a meeting at the Ambedkar International Centre here, the BMS chief said: “The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) are the two vital lifelines of a worker. If these huge funds are given to private fund managers, then it can lead to financial chaos.
“Similarly, the ESIC hospitals, if handed over to the state governments, will result in their mismanagement. We have suggested that while ESIC hospitals should be managed by its own corporation, EPF funds should not be given to private managers. The government has taken a serious note of it.”
Elaborating on the risks being apprehended from private fund managers, Narayanan said: “We have opposed privatisation of a huge social security fund (which runs into several lakh crores) because multi-national insurance and PF companies might invest the funds into risky share markets. The country cannot afford to take such risks.”
The BMS President has welcomed the wages bill, recently introduced in Parliament, but on the other bills (Social Security and Industrial Relations), he was of the view that certain changes were required.
“For instance, if a union strike is declared illegal, then the provision of an eight-day salary cut is anti-worker. Such harsh steps would harm the workers’ interest. Similarly, social security funds should not be extended to the unorganised sector. Again, there are risk factors involved in it.”
The RSS’ labour arm has vehemently opposed certain provisions of the new Industrial Relations code, saying that “it will create a jungle law in the industrial sector”.
According to the BMS, many of the existing rights of workers are being curtailed. For example, it said, the government plan to decide the criteria of office-bearers of trade unions is unacceptable to any union. Besides, arbitrary dismissal is unfair.
“However, I thank Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar, who patiently heard us, and seems determined to make certain changes in the bills,” said Narayanan.
Meanwhile, sources in the Union Ministry of Labour and Employment revealed that the two new codes which could not be introduced in the present session of the Lok Sabha are being vetted by the legal department on a priority basis. If expedited, the bills can be introduced in the ongoing session of Parliament, which has been extended by another 10 days.