Minister of State for Labour and Employment (Independent Charge), Santosh Kumar Gangwar, said that the government was working on a policy to improve the working and living conditions of the 40 crore labour force in the unorganised sector. The policy which will incorporate the suggestions of state labour ministers will emphasise on the health and social security of workers to optimise their contribution to the national economy.
Addressing the 84th Annual General Meeting of the All India Organisation of Employers (AIOE), an affiliate of FICCI, Gangwar said that harmonious industrial relations and social security for workers were the cornerstones for sustainable economic growth. In their context, the Minister said that the Code on Wages was being deliberated upon by the Standing Committee of Parliament and is expected to submit its report soon.
Gangwar also presented the AIOE National Award for Outstanding Industrial Relations (2016-17) to Pricilla Coimbatore. The first runner-up award was given to Harrisons Malayalam, Kochi and the second runner-up to ITC Paper Boards and Speciality Paper Division, Bhadrachalam.
Here, Dagmar Walter, Director, ILO DWT for South Asia and Country Office for India, said that ILO’s India Decent Work Programme was currently being finalised. The programme will set out the agenda for quality jobs with practices that lead to a greener world. She said that for developing skills to meet the requirements of future jobs in India, there was a need to impart and imbibe a culture of adaptability and empathy. She laid emphaisis on prior-learning and a clear focus on cognitive and problem-solving skills.
Gaurav Swarup, President, AIOE, pointed out that reforms in the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, need immediate attention. This can be done through bringing in an industrial relations code, which does away with the need for prior permission of the government for rationalisation measures and introducing a provision for strike notice. Also, contract labour legislation, the most contentious issue today, needs a re-look.
He said that employment generation which should have been spurred by these changes, is not gaining desired momentum. This is demonstrated by the fact that only 2 million jobs were generated in 2017, as against more than 11 million people joining the labour market. Furthermore, while the service sector is the main driver of economy in terms of its contribution to GDP, the existing labour laws are framed only to take care of the manufacturing sector. Besides, rigidity of the statutory framework and lack of skills impede the generation of service sector employment.
Rohit Relan, President-Elect, AIOE, said that the rigid labour laws in India have moved investors to neighbouring countries. The time had come to give them a positive message. He assured the government that employers would do their best to ensure that an environment of growth and social harmony is created in the country.