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Parliamentary Panel for Raising Limit to 300 workers for Lay-offs Without Govt Nod

Image for representation. (PTI)

Image for representation. (PTI)

The committee noted in the report that some state governments like Rajasthan have already increased the threshold to 300 workers, which according to the Labour Ministry has resulted in an increase in employment and a decrease in retrenchment.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour has supported the idea of allowing companies having less than 300 workers to go for retrenchment or closure without government permission.

This proposal has been the bone of contention at tripartite discussions on the Industrial Relation Code and attracted criticism especially from trade unions.

The committee in its report on the proposed Industrial Relation Code 2019 submitted to the Lok Sabha Speaker earlier this week stated, "Threshold be increased accordingly in the Code itself and the words ''as may be notified by the Appropriate Government'' be removed because reform of labour laws through the executive route is undesirable."

The committee noted in the report that some state governments like Rajasthan have already increased the threshold to 300 workers, which according to the Labour Ministry has resulted in an increase in employment and a decrease in retrenchment.

The bill provided in Clause 77 (1) that the special provisions relating to lay-off, retrenchment and closure shall apply to an industrial establishment having not less than 100 workers or such number of workers as may be notified by the Appropriate Government.

An earlier draft of the Bill had proposed 300 workers threshold which had to be removed in the latest bill after strong opposition by trade unions.

The panel had also recommended that a time limit of 45 days be prescribed to process and finalise the application for registration of a trade union irrespective of the outcome of the scrutiny of the application.

The panel has taken a liberal view on strikes and recognised it as freedom of industrial action.

There were suggestions from some stakeholders that the notice period for going on strike should be increased to 21 days from the existing 14 days.

They also wanted to extend this provision to other sectors. At present, it covers industrial establishments only.

The committee stated in its report that it finds no plausible reason for expanding the ambit of this provision indiscriminately to all the industrial establishments as restrictions should not apply to all strikes and demonstrations which are meant to assure freedom of industrial actions.

"The committee, therefore, desire that the requirement of fourteen days notice to go on strike be made applicable only to public utility services like water, electricity, natural gas, telephone and other essential services as well as matters of the disturbance of public tranquillity or breach of public order," it said.

The bill will subsume The Trade Unions Act, 1926, The Standing Order Act, 1946 and The Industrial Disputes At, 1947 into Industrial Relations Code.

The Industrial Relations Code, 2019 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on November 28, 2019, and referred to the Committee on December 23, 2019, for examination and report within three months i.e. by March 22, 2020.

The Committee obtained four days extension of time from the Lok Sabha Speaker to present the Report to the House by March 26, 2020.

However, since Parliament was adjourned sine-die on March 24, 2020, because of the unprecedented situation arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Committee had sought and obtained a further extension of time up to the first day of the Monsoon Session 2020 to present the report.

In the meanwhile, the report was presented to the Lok Sabha speaker on April 23, 2020.

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