Dr Charles Dias
The Union government notified the category of ‘fixed term employee’ in the schedule attached to Industrial Establishment Standing Order’s Act, 1946. The argument is: This will allow flexibility to the corporate to employ and deploy labour only for a fixed duration, especially in the segments where they have specific orders or assignments. The corporate will have flexibility to not carry-over extra labour for lean seasons. The unions believe this will kill the concept of permanent jobs in India. They fear all jobs will be converted into contractual work for a fixed period. The move is seen as a backdoor entry for the contentious ‘hire and fire’ norm in the private sector.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, in his Budget speech, announced the fixed term employment will be implemented. Fumed over this, the labour and trade unions say this announcement violates the ILO Convention 144 – mandating tripartite consultation for the government with trade unions and other stakeholders – adopted in 1976. “He violated the convention, subsequently ratified by the Indian Parliament, when he unilaterally declared the implantation,” laments Saji Narayanan CK, President of the BMS. Trade unions like Hind Mazdoor Sabha, CITU, AITUC, etc, said the government didn’t do proper consultation with the unions and took the decision in haste. They think the government brought the decision through an executive order instead of referring it to Parliament or the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour. “This is a backdoor method of bureaucrats taking up the legislative power enjoyed by Parliament on the matters of national importance. The amendment has been introduced under pressure from a powerful Industrial lobby,” Saji Narayanan said.
“Since the provisions under the existing labour laws did not provide flexibility, the industry had inhibitions in engaging extra labour to discharge timely commitments like export orders. The amendment will certainly remove this hurdle and employment generation will receive an impetus in the coming months,” said FICCI President Rashesh Shah. The unions say the executive order giving the same benefits of permanent employees to the fixed term employees should have been given to the contractual workers. This could be done by amending the Contract Labour Act. So the new amendment should have been made to the Contract Labour Act instead of the Standing Orders Act to stop the exploitation of contract workers, they opine. The government should withdraw the amendment, said Narayanan.
Now so many questions are being raised from many quarters. What is the situation in India in the matter of job creation? An evaluation for the last four years shows that the Government failed miserably in creating new jobs. Whether the Government is trying to escape and find out lame excuses and trying to escape from the promise of creating two crores job in a year? This move is simply to help the corporates from the obligation of fulfilling the Labour laws concerning permanent employees? The concept of permanent job is coming to an end?
The trade unions accuse the Government that , while tax relaxations, exemptions and other subsidies to the tune of about six lakh crores were provided to corporates by the NDA Government, how much jobs they could create during the last four years?
Dr. Charles Dias, Former Member of Parliament (LS)