Controversial labor reforms proposed for Rajasthan

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins the Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ) in raising serious concerns over the labor reforms that the government of Rajasthan state of India has recently approved.

Last week, the state cleared major changes to the Industrial Disputes Act of 1947, the Factories Act of 1948 and the Contract Labor Act of 1971 and proposed to present the relevant bills in the Legislative Assembly next month. The changes need to be passed by the Assembly and assented by the India’s president Pranab Mukherjee before implementation. The changes, among other things, make it easier for the private companies to hire and fire employees.

The DUJ described the reforms as the ‘government’s total surrender to big business and media monopolies’ and said it would seriously deteriorate the situation of job security of media workers. According to The Indian Express changes to the laws include not requiring government permission for retrenchment of up to 300 workers, which is an increase on the existing level of  200 workers. There is also a proposed three-year time limit on raising disputes, and raised the percentage of workers needed for registration of a representative union from 15 to 30 per cent.

DUJ President Sujata Madhok and General Secretary S K Pande said: “The DUJ notes with concern the shrinking of organised sector employment and that the present labor laws and the labor judiciary have been singularly ineffective in protecting the rights of workers.”

“Reducing the few protections offered by the Industrial Disputes Act, the Contract Labor Act and the Factories Act would not lead to the sharp growth in employment predicted by the Rajasthan government. It will only promote arbitrary hire and fire policies; and restricting the right to form trade unions and other anti-labor policies will only lead to an acceleration of conflicts between workforce and employers.” The DUJ said.       

The DUJ called upon the President Mukherjee, not to give his assent to any changes in state level laws that reduce the rights and protections offered to a working.   

The IFJ said the moves by the Rajasthan state to reform labor laws would further jeopardise the stability of employment for journalists and media workers and ultimately undermine the media.

“We call on the Indian and Rajasthan governments to reevaluate the need for such changes and call for further consultation with the unions and employees to ensure a full and fair discussion of the issues,” IFJ Asia-Pacific acting director, Jane Worthington, said.

“Labor laws should be put in place to protect journalists and media workers in their employment, and allow organisations such as unions to freely represent their members in a fair manner.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0950 

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

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