Bengaluru, Sep 26, 2020: The Karnataka government on Friday passed the Industrial Disputes and Certain Other Laws (Karnataka Amendment) Bill 2020, which trade unions have vehemently opposed. The Bill was passed without much opposition except for Chittapur MLA Priyank Kharge, who called it "anti-labour".
There were three major amendments to the existing act. Firstly, establishments employing more than 300 people will have to seek the government’s permission to lay off employees. This has been raised from 100 employees. Secondly, overtime working hours have been increased from 75 to 125 hours per quarter. Thirdly, the threshold for employees has been increased from 10 employees to 20 in factories which use power, and 20 employees to 40 in factories that do not use power.
The amendments were made to Acts such as the Industrial Disputes Act, the Factories Act and the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act.
The Bill was tabled by Labour Minister Shivaram Hebbar, who said that it would ensure ease of doing business and "provide opportunities for those who want to work overtime".
When Shivaram Hebbar proposed increasing overtime working hours of employees, former IT and BT Minister Priyank Kharge said, "This is anti-labour. This will make working conditions horrible for employees in the name of ease of doing business." Shivaram Hebbar countered Kharge’s statement and said that employees are willing to work longer shifts.
"We are living amidst COVID-19 and we cannot shut factories down. It is inevitable that they run and there are people willing to work longer hours and we are only allowing it to happen," Shivaram Hebbar said.
This amendment was brought in after the Karnataka government promulgated an ordinance in July this year with the same provisions. In addition to this amendment, the Karnataka government passed 16 other bills in the Assembly on Friday.
Labour unions strongly opposed the ordinance in July, stating that the government was taking away workers’ consent to overtime working hours. Prior to the amendment, factories needed to take the government’s approval for overtime working hours of employees. The new amendment states that instead of prior approval, the companies can provide "periodical overtime reports".
The All India Central Council of Trade Unions on Saturday condemned the Karnataka government’s move, stating that it would push a large number of workers into the unorganised sector.
“In a step that amounts to pushing a large section of the workforce into the unorganised sector, the assembly has passed an amendment to the Industrial Disputes Act, the Factories Act and the CLRAA. The applicability of these laws, that give workers a right to drinking water, toilets; that impose some mandates on with principal employer even if he contracts out; and that protect workers in larger establishments from arbitrary closure and termination is changed to exclude many workers,” the AICCTU said in a tweet.
In August, the Karnataka government rolled out the Industrial Policy, with the primary focus to drive investment into manufacturing. This policy, which is industry-friendly, was sold on labour reforms.
In May, the Karnataka government was criticised for a controversial notification that extended the maximum working hours from 8 to 10 per day and from 48 to 60 per week for factory workers in the state. As per a submission made to the Karnataka High Court, the notification was withdrawn on June 12.
Courtesy:The News Minute