Notes on Labour Codes for Campaign

Union of IT & ITES Employees (UNITE)

Notes on Labour Codes for Campaign

The new labour codes introduced to replace the existing labour laws and the new farmer bills are anti-worker, anti-farmer and generally anti-people. Privatisation of PSU undertakings are continuing unabated, relief for the poor and the unorganised sector has not been provided by the government. The General Strike called on 26 November is a continuation of various protests taken up by the workers and farmers of the country this year protesting the battery of anti-people policies and decisions taken by the government.

In this writeup, we look at the Labour codes, specifically at points that will impact IT and ITES employees directly.

Industrial Relation code 2020:

  1. This code will exclude the workers who draw wages exceeding INR 18,000 per month. That means a large part of the total workforce of the country are excluded from the provisions of this code.
  2. Introduction of Fixed term employment. Though the code mentions that workers under fixed term employment are eligible to all provisions of a permanent worker, the following loop holes present themselves.
    • Gratuity can be evaded in Fixed term employment.
    • Lack of limit to period of fixed-term employment.
  3. Earlier Establishments needed approval from the government regarding their layoff, closure & retrenchment if the organization strength exceeded 100. Now the number has increased to 300 , about 74% of the country’s workers will be under a hire & fire regime.
  4. Standing orders will not applicable to establishment having less than 300 employees &  this employee count can be increased further by govt through notification
  5. This code makes registering trade unions & maintaining its registration difficult. No trade union can be registered unless at least 10% of workers or 100 workers through the industry.
  6. Abolishment of Labor courts.
  7. There is an ambiguity in the right to strike section. This will enable the employer to manipulate as per their convenience & result in harm for the worker if they should go for strike.
  8. Whereas for the employers, Lockout has been made easier in all industries and only initiation about a lockdown needs to be sent to the authority.

Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code

  1. Contractors employing less than fifty workers are no longer required to obtain license
  2. This code bars civil courts from hearing any matter under the code.
  3. Trade Unions representing the women workers have no role.

Code on Social Security 2020

All the schemes and rules framed under the repealed Acts will be in force for only one year now. After that workers will have to wait for the government to design and implement new schemes & rules.

Provident Fund, Pension and Deposit Linked Insurance

  1. Reduced EPF contribution to 10% from 12%. This will benefit the employers.
  2. Allows establishment to exit EPF if the employers & majority of the employees jointly seek such an exit. This allows to dismantle the social security scheme for the worker by the small & medium establishment can force to opt-out from scheme

Code on Wages

  1. Instead of minimum wage, this code introduced floor wages, which is determined by central govt after taking account of minimum living standards of workers in the geographical region (in 2019, INR 178 per day by expert committee appointed by govt)
  2. Only i) basic pay, (ii) dearness allowance and (iii) retaining allowance have been included as components of ‘wages’.
  3. This Code excludes the following components from the definition of wages(HRA, Employer contribution to any pension or PF, overtime allowance, gratuity payments, retrenchment compensation, conveyance allowances, settlement between the parties or order of court or tribunal;)
  4. Separate definitions of ‘worker’ and ’employee’
  5.  Changes for filing claims in payment of wages. Earlier cases could be filed within 3 years, Now it’s changed to 2 years.
  6. Rights to have access to the balance sheets & other accounts of the company for the purpose of negotiation on payment of bonus for trade unions

As we can see above, almost all of the new provisions have been made in favour of employers, in the name of reforms. As beneficiaries of the Labour laws which were hard fought and won over decades, we the IT and ITES employees have to come together against the new labour codes. As people of the country we have to stand with the farmers and also protest against the anti-people policies.

In lieu of this, UNITE has expressed its solidarity with the General Strike called by the central trade unions on 26 November 2020. UNITE Members will also participate and campaign in the General Strike. We request the IT and ITES employees to join the online protest on 26 November by posting your selfies with the demands.