Charting a new path

Published : Mar 24, 2006 00:00 IST

Workers at the Hero Honda factory. - BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Workers at the Hero Honda factory. - BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

FOR the first time perhaps in the history of the State, a specific policy on labour has been formulated by the government. This move is the result of the realisation that for rapid and smooth industrialisation, harmonious industrial relations are an imperative. The labour policy aims at ensuring industrial development with social justice and creating an atmosphere of peace, mutual trust and complete security.

The policy seeks to establish an industrial milieu, which fosters trust and coordination between the management, workers and the government and wipes out corruption and exploitation. It leaves no scope for strikes and lock outs but seeks to ensure that the rights of the workers are protected, full wages are paid, industrial safety is enforced, working conditions of women workers are improved and child labour and all forms of bonded labour are rooted out. The policy also aims to develop a healthy work culture. The computerisation of all offices in the Labour Department, which is under way, is expected to have a positive impact on its functioning.

Significantly, the policy lays emphasis on protecting women's rights effectively, their right to work in particular. Permission has been extended to women to work on night shifts. This is a much-needed initiative but it will be effective only if adequate protection mechanisms are set up to ensure that no harassment takes place during working hours and that employers take full responsibility for the safety and security of women employees.

The policy provides for district vigilance committees that will be empowered to stop child labour and bonded labour. Taking cognisance of the problems faced by contract labour, it lays special emphasis on protecting their rights and putting an end to their exploitation. Industrialists as well as workers will be made aware of labour laws and safe work ethics. The policy seeks to ensure that labour laws are implemented in letter and spirit. Work slips would be given to workers and employers' compliance with minimum wages rules would be scrutinised from time to time.

In a special measure, Information Technology and IT-related services have been declared public utility services and included in the first list of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. This move will ensure that no strikes or lockouts are declared in this sector without prior notice. This would, the government hopes, create an atmosphere of congeniality in this sector.

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