Auto Manufacturers Call for Reforms in Labour Laws

The past few months, has seen the auto industry in the lime light albeit for a negative reason. While the auto industry in India has grown by leaps and bounds, with many global manufacturer now setting shop in India, in spite of things slowing down a bit. The industry has however, been marred by the number of problems breaking out, especially ones related to labour.

Only recently, workers at Maruti’s Manesar plant went on a strike that lasted for 13 days, delaying the vehicle production and loss for the company, as the waiting period for its popular models shop up. With the number of strikes taking place, many leading manufacturers have requested for proper labour reforms, while the trade unions are asking to implement existing rules more strictly for avoiding confrontations.

The Vice President of GM India, P Balendran, said that because of the rigidness of the laws, many companies are forced to outsource or employ on a contractual basis. What they need right now is more flexible labour reforms. The contractual employment system gives more autonomy to them when it comes to selecting or laying off employees. He also added that more than one union leads to problems and confusion, not to mention that in most places unions have affiliation to political parties and follow the ideology of the party.

Meanwhile, the senior VP Corporate Affairs and Finance of Hyundai Motors India, R. Sethuraman, said that the problem is not with the labour laws in India, and they will always welcome reforms. He however, said that when unions affiliated to political parties come to the forefront, the negotiations are usually never conduction with the workforce of the company.

He said that this was not healthy managements have to then negotiate with people who mostly create fear and distrust among the workforce for political reasons. Adding that just as trade unions have rights under the labour laws in India, so do the companies and they have the right with home to negotiate or talk with.

The leaders of trade unions in India have a different outlook on this problem, and say that formation of a union, multiple unions and unions with affiliations to political parties are allowed as per the labour laws in India.

The secretary of the All India Trade Union Congress, D.L. Sachdev, said that most auto companies do not have respect for the labour laws in India and the union formations that are constitutional rights of workers. Their machineries for implementing labour laws are quiet weak, and they need to strengthen them.

One does not need to change the laws, but the management has to decide upon the union they want to talk/ negotiate with, when there are multiple unions present. Sachdev also said they should allow the registration process for unions to be done by an independent body, rather than a state, and should fix a max of 40 days for registering unions.

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