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Rajasthan labour reforms meet ILO standards?

rajasthanlabourNEW DELHI: Rajasthan may have initiated long-pending reforms in labour laws, but the Centre has said it is unclear whether the state has followed the international norms of consultation with trade unions for some of the amendments.

“It is also not clear whether tripartite consultations have taken place as required under ILO Convention 144,” labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya informed Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

The minister was responding to a question on amendments by the Rajasthan government on retrenchment under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, and provisions to redefine the factory under the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970, and the Factories Act, 1948.

The government of Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje was the first to begin overhauling India’s archaic labour laws in June this year aiming to lower the compliance burden on factories.

The State assembly enacted amendments to the Industrial Disputes Act, Factories Act and Contract Labour Act in August, which received Presidential assent earlier this month.

According to Convention 144 of the International Labour Organization, member nations must “ensure effective consultations … between representatives of the government, of employers and of workers”. India ratified the convention in 1978.

Based on a representation, the ILO can take up the matter with a nation at its annual meeting, or the ILO director-general may seek an explanation.

A Rajasthan government official, however, said, tripartite consultations did take place but the trade unions did not agree to the provisions.

“In such a situation, what can we do? Further, these unions just represent 5 percent of the labour force and not all workers,” he said.

Another state official added that such discussions were not mandatory under domestic law.

“These amendments are now law, and are based on the suggestions of the Second National Commission on Labour,” he said.

AK Padmanabhan, president of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), said: “The Rajasthan government did not have any consultations with the trade unions … and neither has the Centre called us for any discussions.”

Trade unions have also contended that doubling the number of workers in the definition of a factory under the Factories Act has pushed nearly 75% of the estimated 7,622 factories in the state out of the purview of labour laws.

Dattatreya told Lok Sabha the Centre had “no objection” to other amendments by the state. – From the Indian Express

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