Labour Policy – Laws – Narrative .

NARRATIVE:

To quote from the Ncib website ( www.ncib.in/pdf/ncib_pdf/Labour Act.pdf ) quote, “The history of labour legislation in India is interwoven with the history of British colonialism. The industrial / labour legislations enacted by the British were primarily intended to protect the interests of the British employers. Considerations of British political economy was naturally paramount in shaping some of these early laws.

Thus, came the Factories Act. It is well known that Indian textile goods offered stiff competition to British textiles in the export market and hence in order to make India labour costlier the Factories Act was first introduced in 1883 because of the pressure brought on the British parliament by the textile magnates of Manchester and Lancashire.

Thus, India received the first stipulation of eight hours of work, the abolition of child labour, and the restriction of women in night employment, and the introduction of overtime wages for work beyond eight hours. While the impact of this measure was clearly welfare-ist the real motivation was undoubtedly protectionist.

The earliest Indian statute to regulate the relationship between employer and his workmen was the Trade Dispute Act, 1929 (Act 7 of 1929). Provisions were made in this Act for restraining the rights of strike and lock out but no machinery was provided to take care of disputes.

The original colonial legislation underwent substantial modifications in the post-colonial era because independent India called for a clear partnership between labour and capital. The content of this partnership was unanimously approved in a tripartite conference in December 1947 in which it was agreed that labor would be given a fair wage and fair working conditions and in return capital would receive the fullest co-operation of labour for uninterrupted production and higher productivity as part of the strategy for national economic development and that all concerned would observe a truce period of three years free from strikes and lockouts.

Ultimately the Industrial Disputes Act (the Act) brought into force on 01.04.1947 (while the British were still ruling India – authors insert) repealing the Trade Disputes Act 1929 has since remained on statute book;” end Quote”.

It is clear from this story that, yet again, the nation is being essentially ruled and governed by laws of Britain, designed for British welfare not for that of the Indian nation and public; in essence restricting, constricting and causing stress in our economy and growth story till today.

Laws and rules built around the British left-overs have been largely responsible for wrapped attitudes and relations between labor industry and business. There has been no thought by our politicians or bureaucrats to design laws and rules that make for strong mutually beneficial relationships and which suit the Indian civilizational narrative or indeed the needs of a modern nation. The country willy-nilly follows the West in everything as if we have left our brains and thought streams in deep-freeze in the annals of ancient history, and the west are still our masters; our thought leaders and dictating our actions.

The story of Labor laws, and relations, is so lop-sided in our nation that it is impossible to imagine a smooth hassle-free functioning of our industries and work places, which are a story of a continuous obstacle race, and stress. The Labor department is thoroughly corrupted and has only one agenda, how to extract money from industry and businesses while pretending to protect the labor force all the time, hiding behind the dreadfully conceived rules, regulations and laws, that are rooted in British times and inimical for our national welfare.

Even though there have been many changes to these laws over the years, these are in-line with the core British narrative, which remains unchanged, and are a patchwork quilt phenomenon, and also rooted in current western thinking. Our politicians and bureaucrats constantly take the lead and inspiration from the west or other countries including the Russians when it comes to the socialist thought, and demonstrate no thoughts of their own. Are we so bankrupt of thought and action?

No one has thought it fit to take a fresh look at the nations labor laws outside of the dogmas that are promoted by various parties and entities, to evolve labor-industrial-business relations into one holistic story where there is genuine fair play, independence of decision making for individuals in a work place relationship where the State only steps in when there is patent misuse or unfair practices, within a framework that promotes win-win scenario for labor-industry- business.

Industrial relations and Labor laws have essentially evolved and been set up within the frame of widespread and established thinking and societal functioning wherein business owners and labour organizations are seen to be two sides of opposing camps.

The well-established, baseline view, is that industry and business owners are interested only in exploiting labor, keeping labor costs as low as possible, thereby increasing their profits; and labor champions and organizations prerequisites are to take adversarial positions, and arm-twist to ensure fair wages and job security. No one is interested in taking a holistic, composite view to set up a frame that would make it win-win for all stake-holders.

This is so because no one has come up with a Policy Framework within the story that developed from within the western capitalist system and evolved during the industrial revolution and its aftermath. What is needed is a playing field that is equitable and levelled, taking all, even competing interests in focus to generate good livelihoods for the labor force, and rapid development of the nation and its economy. This would form an essential backdrop to the ease, of doing business, creating and managing the growth of jobs and enterprises.

What’s more, now in the 21st century, automation, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and digitization are together eliminating available jobs from the economy as fast as you can say Boo! No one, government or industry or business or activist group, is addressing these very real, complex issues that are already impacting on our national life through lob-less growth and a sense of hopelessness creeping into our nation’s population. This is very dangerous for our country and its survival in the world.

The Rising India Party takes the position that India must find its own labor-industrial-business relationship rules and evolve to a system where the interests of the labor-industry-business and the nation are set in a fair, equitable, stable and lucrative-for-all paradigm, within the current 21st century work-space reality. This can and must happen with the involvement of all stake-holders; with deep thought and widespread discussion that takes into account the broadest human life-index.

The Rising India Party would aim to bring in good to great Labour-industry-Business relations, where each recognize the welfares of the other, where each appreciates the genuine core interests of the other, where there is fair compensation and incentive to labor; where labor acknowledge the need for high productivity; where business and industry plan for and impart adequate training to its labor force; where job security for those who meet the requirements of responsible work for the business are maintained by business; where provisions are made for the redeployment or security of livelihood by industries that are rapidly automating or using AI to grow their businesses. Such a paradigm would get industry and the nation on to fast track growth. Labor-Business need to see each other as partners and not adversaries fighting for advantage in a zero-sum game.

The Rising India Party proposes the following frame for resetting Labor-Industry-Business relations in the country and seeks for the Indian Public to engage and decide on the next 100 years of its socio-economic-labor-business model as follows:

Important Note to keep in mind while considering the proposals for Labor-Industry-Business Relations (LIBS):

Labor-Industry-Business relations are always an emotional and charged subject with embedded attitudes and thinking that have led to numerous stressful events over the decades. However, the fact remains that the balance of this relationship is critical for the success of a nation and its people through the industry and business that operate in the country given that jobs and incomes are produced by industrial and business activity.

The history of labor-industry-business relations of the world have been written elsewhere, i.e., in countries other than India. There have been no original thought leaders in India on these matters of vital national interest.

The story of these relations is set either in the West, through its Capitalist System and its writers and promoters, or in the former Soviet Union / Russia, through the Marxist-Socialist or Communist thought and systems.

Both take extreme positions and set up perpetual conflicts between labor-industry-business. Indian political and thought leaders, so called, are really followers of either system with no originality of thought or care and simply push the story that they subscribe to willy-nilly in a country and society that are vastly different from any other.

The Rising India Party sets it-self the task of initiating a broad conversation within the nation in an attempt to lay down and discuss new frameworks for these vital labor-industry-business relationships and functional frames.

 It proposes that Indians should look for Indian solutions to these vital social and economic issues and that these should be examined from within our own civilizational values and national Self-Interest.

It needs to be brought to focus, that one of the biggest and core reason, that the Indian civilization survived through thousands of years till today, maintaining its essential flavor, was, and is, the ancient Joint-Family system of life. This is despite the current urban generation’s headlong rush into the Western way of individualism.

The Indian Joint family system was, and is, a micro-cosmos of society at large. When the Head of the family is strong, wise and balanced, the entire family prospers. There is love, acceptance, fun, protection and so much more. The stronger in the family carry the weaker links without petty jealousies, egos and money-grab interfering in the life of the larger family.

Parents sacrifice and make way for their children; and children in turn, look after their parents in their old age even as they become grand-parents and help raise their grand-children leaving time and space for their children to live full lives. That is what the essential social message of India is to the world. Within this story lie long term social solutions that would become responsible for India to spring-board over and above all other nations and civilizations. This is the real starting point and meaning of Sarvo-Kutimbha

Remember our civilization survived in-tact through all the troubles possible including those caused by invasions over more than 2400 years, beginning with Alexander the Great landing at our borders with his armies in search of wealth and wisdom, both of which he found in ample measure; and then through the Mogul hordes coming, plundering our wealth, and coming back again and again till they settled and made India their home more than 800 years ago, followed by the French, Spanish, Portuguese and the British who stumbled into the Raj, and the country made them all its own and carried on; strong, patient and a living testament to its Rishi Munis who gave us so much.

Ideas presented here are base line thoughts and need deeper analysis and amendments by various people who would read and contribute according to their experience and ideological position, hopefully, to arrive at non-ideological solutions.

The basic aim is to arrive at a functioning model wherein industry and business are not held hostage to fake labor complaints and gamesmanship and industry-business exploitation of labor; while designing protection for labor and freedom to grow for industry-business, such that each are treated fairly, labor secure in their livelihood by one means or another; and industry-business secure of a framework of continuous growth to take on the world’s largest and hungriest corporations, individuals and countries; in a partnership where all prosper according to their ability, and contribution to the national life and growth.

Such an operational frame can only evolve with discussions amongst all stakeholders wherein the issues and concerns of all are taken into account. However, if the nation is to move forward and develop rapidly, what cannot happen under any circumstances, is a state of permanent fear or conflict between industry-business, the workforce and the government. These segments are not mutually exclusive; but if they cooperate, if job creation or livelihood protection for the labor force and fair wages and compensation paradigms are to come to the fore, then the manner of transaction-interaction and interface has to change to a completely new way of functioning. This is what The Rising India Party proposes.

The biggest challenge that faces labor, indeed the world, and certainly Indian society more acutely than anywhere else because of its vast and growing population, is the explosion of technology leading to Artificial Intelligence, automation, digitization and much more, hidden in the minds, research laboratories of corporations and governments of the ruling nations, the top wealth creators, technology creators and thought leaders of the world. These are currently the United States, EU and now, fast exploding on the world scene, our neighbor, China. The technology jump has already been giving job-less growth and India has been experiencing this too.

The coming of artificial intelligence and automation is projected to take out 850 million jobs from the world workforce in the next 7 to 10 years; 850 million, 85 crore jobs.

This movement to technology is capital intensive, and has brought about a situation where owners of capital-industry-business have the means to produce goods and services using non-human systems. These systems are more productive, more efficient and totally amenable to commands of their masters. It is the dream of capitalists; no labor, human protests, strikes, demands, no hassles; only profit larger than the GDP of many nations, and consequently, the Rule of the human race.

No government in the world, leave aside the Indian Government, that only follows the West or anyone who leads, is talking about this nation and life-changing phenomenon. No government is preparing its population for the new world, or thinking about how these technology shifts can or should be adapted to the social impacts that they are bringing in their wake.

The Rising India Party takes the position that this vital conversation needs to take place in the country and it needs to involve capitalist-industrialists-businesses and labor or the nation’s work force across all levels, from farm-laborers to software engineers to managers. The nation needs to reinvent itself, and in the process, re-invent the world.

OPEN FOR DISCUSSION THE FOLLOWING PROPOSALS:

  1. On winning elections, The Rising India Party would constitute Audit Board and Plans Board Groups comprising representation of people from the entire cross section of labor-industry-business across India, in each State.
  2. These Groups would be brought into Round Table discussions with the task of critically examining all aspects of current labor-industrial laws and rules in order to move into the planning modality for designing new, labor-industry-business-nation friendly laws, rules and regulations.
  3. The key purpose would be to table and discuss all aspects of labor-industry-business in terms of blockage or hold up points, aspirations, wishes, needs, and factors that are at play in the labor-industry-business interface.
  4. These Groups would be tasked to identify all issues that affect various stakeholders, cause blockages and to discuss solutions and arrive at workable rules of engagement that would form long term labor-industry-business rules, laws and terms of engagement, such that a new labor-industry-business relations story is written up for the country.
  5. The government would set up Labor Relations Audit Boards who will move to undertake a line by line review of all labor laws, rules, mandated frames for industrial relations.
  6. These Audit Boards would examine the composition and functioning of the Labor Ministry, Labor Courts and Labor Department that are run under the Ministry of Labor or other government bodies.
  7. The Audit Boards will sit together with the Plans Boards and table their finding and recommendations for wider discussion such that the labor laws are completely revamped and together will rewrite the rule books governing the underlying principles of labor-industry-business relations.
  8. Once these have been framed, the proposed new architecture will be put to vote in a referendum to ensure that the majority of the Indian public support these moves.
  9. The Rising India Party proposes that Labor protection, freedom of operating a hassle free business and industrial production efficiency would be at the core of the new policy framing.
  10. Within this principle, in terms of dispute resolution, it would be mandated that before cases and matters come before the Labor Courts related to complaints of unfair labor practices, these would need to be placed before Labor-Industry-Business dispute resolution Boards.
  11. Only if issues remain unresolved and there is major issue would the courts come into play.
  12. The Labor Courts would function under public oversight by being reconstituted to reflect a three-member bench, two of whom would be drawn for limited-time duty; one from the public, and one from the business or corporate sector to hear all labor grievances.
  13. Such a move would bring balance and fair play into the currently hopelessly warped labor court scenario. It would also eliminate corruption and injustice.
  14. The operational frame of the labor policy should layout that in the case of executive cadre employees, if the corporate actions related to them, including to dismissal of service, are within the scope of the employment contract signed by the concerned staff prior to appointment, they would have no have access to labor courts.
  15. In principle, if any person working in an enterprise, at executive or lower job-profiles levels is consistently demonstrating bad disruptive behavior; defined as consistent late attendance, non-cooperation with colleagues and teams, spending time on personal non-work related items; if proven to be consistently inefficient, not meeting minimum base line standards agreed to in their appointment letter, or not meeting the productivity standards that have been set and accepted by the concerned individual before joining the enterprise, and such frame having been informed to the individual at the interview level and in writing which shall be signed as part of the appointment letter,  then the companies will have the right to dismiss such employee without fear of harassment.
  16. If a dismissed employee feels that he is being unfairly treated, he will need to in the first instance launch a complaint to the company’s complaint board comprising management and other staff. If such hearing has not resulted in satisfaction, only then can the employee bring the matter before labor courts
  17. The labor courts will need to take into account the records presented by the company and the company’s complaint redressal system. The labor courts will hold open transparent hearing from both sides prior to arriving at any decisions.
  18. Performance or complaint evaluation would be done by a committee of no less than three people that would include a representative of the Labor or staff, representative of the management and a neutral third-party member of the public who would be randomly picked for specific cases.
  19. All such matters would be speedily heard and disposed of within 7 working days.


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