Labour Unrest

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he last few months has seen a sharp surge in worker protests in plants across the country. In Tamil Nadu, workers at Hyundai, MRF, and Nokia went on protest. Last month, a senior Human Resource Executive at Rico Auto died after having been attacked by workers. Now, work at the Gurgaon-Manesar auto belt of Haryana has come to a halt following the death of a worker in an alleged police firing. It is not just blue collar workers who have been aggressively asserting their rights or protesting and striking. Pilots of India�s biggest airlines like Jet Airways and Air India went on strike on separate occasions last month. So, what has led to this increase in worker protests?

Jayant Dawar, VP, Auto Component Manufacturer Association (ACMA), blames it on political parties trying to seek advantage in the recently held elections. �When elections were announced, politically motivated people came in and thought this was the best way to get their own publicity. They got the help of trade unions and started some kind of movement in which they said that they will feed the aspirations of normal people.�

However, Professor Sharad Bhowmik, Dean, School of Management & Labour Studies, Tata Institute of Social Studies, cites brutality of the state governments while quelling riots and the apathy of managements against trade unions. �The state government has been excessively oppressive on any section of the workers who have been protesting. In most cases, there is this whole apathy or hostility of managements for workers forming unions.�

Daksha Baxi, ED, Khaitan & Co, too shares Bhowmik view that there is an unhealthy relationship between managements and trade unions. He also sees a clear divide between organised and unorganised workers.

What can the government do?

Dawar says the auto body has been in talks with the government for the last three-and-half-months. He wants the government to implement labour reforms.

Baxi too shares Dawar view that labour reforms are the...
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