IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 26th Nov 2020

“Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs.” – Farrah Gray

Dear Aspirants
IASbhai Editorial Hunt is an initiative to dilute major Editorials of leading Newspapers in India which are most relevant to UPSC preparation –‘THE HINDU, LIVEMINT , INDIAN EXPRESS’ and help millions of readers who find difficulty in answer writing and making notes everyday. Here we choose two editorials on daily basis and analyse them with respect to UPSC MAINS 2020-21.

EDITORIAL HUNT #261 :“Trade Unions Protest and Way Forward | UPSC

Trade Unions Protest and Way Forward | UPSC

K.R. Shyam Sundar
Trade Unions Protest and Way Forward | UPSC

K.R. Shyam Sundar is Professor, HRM Area, XLRI, Xavier School of Management, Jamshedpur

      HEADLINES:

Refining trade union strategies to strike a chord

      CENTRAL THEME:

With labour law reforms set to change industrial relations, trade union responses must include social dialogue too

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 2 : 3 : Pressure Group : Trade Unions : Trade : Right to protest

      MAINS QUESTION:

Trade Union protests are likely a mirror of essential corrections to be crafted in labour code with care . Comment -(GS 3)

      LEARNING: 

  • Code and Flaws
  • Labour Rights and the new code
  • Options before the Trade Unions
  • Demands and Way Forward

      INTRODUCTION: 

Ten central trade unions (CTUs) have called for a nation-wide strike on November 26, 2020 to condemn anti-labour economic policies of the state.

Trade Unions Protest and Way Forward | UPSC

SOURCES : BUSINESS STANDARD

  • THE CRUX OF PROTEST : This follows strikes in the coal and defence sectors protesting privatisation and the corporatisation policies.
  • VARIOUS DEMANDS : The strike is to protest against the new farm and labour laws, among others, as well as to raise various demands.

      BODY: 

CODES AND FLAWS

  • STRUCTURAL REFORMS : With the introduction of economic reforms concretely since 1991, employers and the global financial institutions have been lobbying for labour market and structural reforms.
  • UNPROVEN INSPECTION SYSTEMS : The Codes are based on the fundamental unproven premise that labour laws and inspection system are obstacles in attracting investment.
  • LABOUR MARKETS SOAR : The state must promote a cheaper and flexible labour market.

LABOUR RIGHT IN THE NEW CODE

The Codes do extend some labour rights such as

  • Universal minimum wage
  • Statutory recognition of trade unions
  • Formalisation of employment contracts
  • Social security to gig
  • Platform economy workers.

They also afford substantial flexibility to the employers in terms of easy hire and fire, freedom to hire contract labour and unregulated fixed-term-employment, etc.

  • BLURRED DEFINITIONS : The Codes have also considerably redefined the concept and practice of labour inspection system by diluting it.

Trade Unions Protest and Way Forward | UPSC

SOURCES : ANI

  • FISCAL CONSERVATISM : The Codes and state retrenchment in the industrial sector — especially in the context of higher levels of unemployment has raised temperature.
  • INFLATION : Stubborn inflation have created tremendous insecurity among workers.
  • WOEFUL EXPERIENCES : Migrant and informal workers underwent woeful experiences during the COVID-19 period, and trade unions perceive that the state has not provided adequate relief to workers.

CRISIS AND REFORMS

  • OPPORTUNISTIC ENACTMENT : The state had chosen the COVID-19 crisis-ridden period as an “opportune time” to enact labour law reforms having far-reaching adverse consequences for labour rights and structural reforms.
  • EXTRA-LEGAL LEGISLATION : It is galling to note that the COVID-19 period has witnessed perhaps a maximum amount of legal and extra-legal measures issued by the state.

SIX OPTIONS TO CONFRONT

In such a context, trade unions have six options to confront —

  1. Social dialogue
  2. Political lobbying
  3. Political confrontation through Opposition parties
  4. Legal action by approaching the judiciary
  5. Seek the International Labour Organization’s intervention
  6. Direct industrial action.

MISCOMMUNICATION AND PROTESTS

  • SOCIAL DIALOGUE : The State as per trade unions, did not conduct an effective and sustaining social dialogue, though it held a few symbolic parleys with them.

At the State level, social dialogue institutions are largely absent or weak.

  • DENIAL MODE : The state has dismissed social dialogue as being ineffectual and even frustrating.
  • NUMEROUS REPRESENTATIONS : The Central trade unions have made numerous representations on their demands and suggestions relating to labour market reforms.
  • BILLS MISS OUT DEMANDS : Trade unions contend that many of their suggestions have not been incorporated in the Codes and the COVID-19 relief measures.
  • FEW DELIBERATIONS : The whole political exercise of the passage of the Farm Bills and the three Labour Codes during the COVID-19 period smacks of “un-democracy” as Parliament did not witness “healthy discussions”.

SEEKING ASSISTANCE

  • JUDICIO-PHOBIA : Unions must shed their judicio-phobia and approach it provided they have strong legal grounds to challenge reforms introduced by Central or State governments.
  • REDRESSAL MECHANISMS : Trade unions do not use extensively the complaints mechanism created by the International Labour Organization for fear of washing dirty linen in the global spaces.
  • THE LAST METHOD : Trade unions are left with the only option — of demonstrative “industrial action” followed by sustained protest actions.

DEMANDS

The central trade unions have these demands :

  1. Direct cash transfer of ₹7,500 per month for all non-income tax-paying families
  2. 10 kg free ration per person per month to all the needy
  3. Expansion of MGNREGA to provide 200 days of work in a year in rural areas at enhanced wages
  4. Extension of employment guarantee to urban areas;
  5. Withdrawal of all anti-farmer laws and anti-worker labour codes
  6. A halt to privatisation
  7. Protection of government employment
  8. Restoration of old pension schemes, etc.

      IASbhai Windup: 

  • ANTI-CLIMAX : The demands reflect disappointment and even hurt and anger experienced by the working class not only during the time of COVID-19 but also for events of the last three decades.

The Codes are set to rule the industrial relations system for long unless the government changes.

  • PROTEST AND CONCERNS : This strike, as an individual event alone, is a signal to the larger society of the concerns of workers.
  • OTHER OPTIONS : Trade unions must explore other avenues such as seeking the ILO’s intervention, judicial action and social dialogue.
  • PLURALISTIC DEMOCRACY : There is no alternative to social dialogue in a pluralistic democracy which all the parties in the industrial relations system must make effective use of.
  • ULTIMATE MANDATE : Finally the protest means , Make suitable amendments to the Codes to aid both ease of doing business and promote labour rights.

This strike is a reminder of this potential, positive reconstruction of laws.

SUGGESTED READING : LABOUR CODE 2020 
       SOURCES:   THE HINDU EDITORIAL HUNT | Trade Unions Protest and Way Forward | UPSC

 

 

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