22 May, 2020
On call of 10 trade unions and dozens of labour federations across the country about one thousand workers staged protest before the Labour Commissioner office here today and reports of similar protest is coming from other parts of state. They alleged that when the Nation is facing the pandemic and migratory workers and other working class is in deep trouble Jai Ram Government is trying to put salt on the wounds of workers by changing the labour law during the lock down. The protest was held against the Centeri Government and other BJP Governments for diluting the labour laws in favour of big corporate to increase exploitation of workers.
Addressing the protest meeting Kashmir Singh said that state Government had amended the Factory Act, Contract Labour Act , Industrial dispute Act. Without consulting the workers and their union government increased the working hours of unit from eight hours to 12 hours .
They alleged that increasing the work hours is a attack on the interest of workers. Trade unions said that Government is trying to make policies in favour of corporate and factory owners by amending/changing labour laws. They blamed that under the garb of lock down, Government and factory owner have increased exploitation of working class as such changes are made in labour laws in states including Himachal, MP, UP, Gujarat and Rajasthan.
Trade unions alleged that without taking consent of workers the governments is increasing working hours from eight to 12 hours after amending Factory Act 1948. Adding, “ By changing the complete definition of Factory in the Act, two third working force of these unit have been kept out of its ambit in one go,” they added. Similarly change in the Industrial dispute Act 1947 would ban the worker to to go on strike and protest or facilitate the owner or corporate for massive retrenchment without payment of any allowance to the workers, they added.
Trade unions said that dilution of fundamental laws would give unilateral powers to the factory owners to impose lock down on the unit, start retrenchment and lay off labourers in their unit.
It is worthwhile to mention here that state government decided to change the provisions of above act in the council of Ministers meeting held on May 13. The CoMs gave approval to make necessary amendments in Sec, -1 of the Contract Labour (R&A) Act,1970 (37 of 1970) in its application to the State of Himachal Pradesh, in Sub Sec.-4.
The amendment proposes to enhance the threshold limit for contract employment from 20 to 30 workmen. Nod was also given for amendment in Sec-2 (m)(i), 2(m)(ii), Sec-65 (3)(iv), Sec-85(1)(i) and insertion of New Sec 106 (b) for compounding of offences in the Factories Act, 1948 by enhancing the existing threshold limits of ten and twenty workers to 20 and 40 respectively. The amendment in clause (IV) 3 of Sec 65 proposes to increase this limit to 115 hours subject to the condition that the overtime will have to be paid twice the rate of ordinary wages. It also gave its consent to make amendment in Sec -22, (I) Sec 25 F(b) Sec-25 K of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, (14 of 1947).
The protest was attended by Himachal Pradesh Joint coordination forum convener Dr Kashmir Singh, INTUC state President Baba Hardip Singh, AITUC state president Jagdish Chander Bhardwaj and CITU state president Vajinder Mehra, INTUC state Sita Ram, AITUC Gen Secy Devikinandan Chauhan, and CITU Gen Secy Prem Gautam including others.