Meghalaya: TUR criticizes cabinet’s decision to approve amendment to labour laws

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SHILLONG | May 14:

The Workers' union of Meghalaya — Thma U Rangli-Juki (TUR) on Thursday criticized the decision of the State Cabinet to approve the amendment to labour laws which would be introduced in the upcoming 3-day re-scheduled Budget Session starting May 20. The workers' union has demanded that these amendments be made public.

Expressing disappointment, TUR said that proposing amendments to laws without consulting the concerned stakeholders would leave rooms for apprehensions and doubts about the intentions of the government. "And just because we are in the midst of a pandemic, it does not mean that democratic and participative practices should be abandoned," TUR member Angela Rangad said.

It may be mentioned that the state cabinet on Wednesday approved the Meghalaya Labour Law Amendment Bill, 2020 for amending certain provisions of the Central Acts, the bill of which will be introduced in the upcoming budget session. The proposed amendment was to amend certain provisions of the Factories Act, 1948, the Industries Disputes Act, 1947 and the Contract Labour Act, 1970.

TUR pointed out that barring Kerala, several states in the country are moving amendments, most of which, are anti-labour in nature, including measures to increase working hours, introduction of fixed-term employment, changes to the contract labour law and in some extreme cases, dilution of labour laws at the expense of collective bargaining rights of workers.

Going by the trajectory of these labour law amendments, TUR has raised many points for the government to re-look and respond; These include:

  1. If there is any extension of working hours, it has be with overtime pay as per existing laws.
  2. Any change or introduction of fixed-term labour, contracts should not be biased to employers to "employ and fire" on whatever terms they want. It should be balanced and not exploitative.
  3. If there is any amendment that actually needs to be done, it should be in changing and increasing the minimum wage into a living wage and the further protection, expansion and extension of workers benefits and rights.
  4. A law for the protection and security of migrant workers is more urgent and important considering the plight of migrant workers all over the country.
  5. Workers' benefits and protections should be expanded and extended in these difficult times rather than be sacrificed to "profit-driven production" and the whims of the industrial-business lobby.

TUR reasoned that changes in labour laws will affect all workers including those in the government Service."We urge the workers to be vigilant and weakening of labour law protections must be strongly opposed and resisted," Rangad said.