The Hindu Explains | What does the brand new Industrial Relations Code say, and the way does it have an effect on the correct to strike?

What does the Industrial Relations Code say about unions? What are the layoff and closure regulations?

The story so far: This week parliament passed three codes of labor law, which have been criticized by fierce criticism and loud protests from many unions. The codes of industrial relations, social security, occupational safety, health and working conditions are hailed by the industry as a much needed reform and rationalization of labor law, and merge and replace various laws on the subject. A separate code of wages was issued last year. The codes that have now been adopted are modified versions of the Labor Relations Code, introduced in 2019. Among these, the Labor Relations Code is touted as one that would stimulate industry and stimulate economic activity as it aims to free workers from the restrictions of previous labor laws.

What are the main features of the Industrial Relations Code?

The Labor Relations Code combines the features of three previous laws – the Trade Union Act of 1926, the Commercial Employment (Rules of Procedure) Act of 1946, and the Industrial Disputes Act of 1947. It defines “workers” alongside all workers in skilled or unskilled, manual, technical , operational and commercial functions, supervisors receive up to £ 18,000 per month as salary. It introduces fixed-term employment, which gives employers the flexibility to hire workers based on the requirements through a written contract. Fixed-term workers should be treated on an equal footing with permanent workers in terms of working hours, wages, allowances and other benefits, including statutory benefits such as tips.

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The Code states that any facility that employs 300 or more workers should place standing orders regarding the classification of workers, the manner in which working hours and hours are indicated, holidays, paydays, etc., shifts, attendance, vacation conditions, termination of the Employment relationship. or suspension, in addition to the means available to resolve complaints. Previously this was applied to units with 100 or more employees in the 2019 bill. The threshold was raised to 300 in the 2020 Code. It empowers the “appropriate government,” that is, the center or state governments, with or without conditions, to exempt an industrial enterprise or class of industrial enterprise from all or some provisions of the Code, provided that they are satisfied that appropriate provisions are in place are to achieve its goals.

What does it say about unions?

If there is more than one union in a company, the only bargaining union status is given to the one that 51% of the workers belong to. It was downgraded from the 75% requirement in the 2019 version. If no union is qualified under this criterion, the employer must form a “negotiating council” made up of representatives from the various unions, whose members are only those with at least 20% of the employees.

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What are the layoff and closure regulations?

The regulations requiring prior government approval for layoffs, cuts and closings only apply to establishments that have employed an average of 300 or more workers per working day in the past 12 months. The Code also allows the government to raise this threshold through notification. Dismissal is considered illegal if it occurs without permission or in spite of denial of permission. However, this is not the case if the employee has been offered alternative employment that does not require special skills or creates undue difficulty. The Code requires notice or payment in lieu of notice and prior government approval before firing anyone who has been in permanent service for a year or more. Such a prior authorization requirement also exists for the closure of a unit, whereby the application must be submitted 90 days before the intended closure.

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How does the new code affect the right to strike?

The code prohibits strikes and lockouts in all industrial establishments without prior notice. No unit may go on strike in breach of contract 60 days prior to the strike, or within 14 days of the announcement or prior to the expiration of a date specified in the strike notice. In addition, no strike should take place during a conciliation process or within seven days of the conclusion of such a process. or during proceedings before a labor court or 60 days after its conclusion or during arbitration. Similar restrictions were imposed on the employer through the announcement of a lockout. The Labor Disputes Act of 1947 put such restrictions on announcing strikes only for public utilities. However, the present code applies to all companies. Even the Standing Working Committee had preferred to limit these provisions to public utilities.

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