It has been reported in media that the Union Government has issued a draft notification on Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Central (Amendment) Rules, 2018, dated 8th January, which will allow all businesses to offer fixed-term contracts to workers. This will enable industries to hire workers for short-term assignments and terminate their services once the projects are completed. Central Government has been taking many steps and amending various laws to make India more attractive and friendly destination for capitalist investors. Investor i.e. capitalist friendly reforms in labor laws has been one of the government’s thrust area. The government had allowed fixed-term employment only for apparel manufacturing sector so far. But under pressure from other industries now all industries are proposed to be given freedom to employ workers on fixed-term employment.
Instead of going through a Labor contractor, after this amendment the industries can directly employ people on fixed-term basis. This is exactly opposite of what millions of working people across sectors have been demanding. Whereas they are demanding end of contract labour system, and giving permanent employment to all the working people, government is moving in opposite direction. One of the main grouse of capitalists is that they cannot throw out working people when they are not needed. This desire is sought to be fulfilled by this amendment.
The government is claiming that workers under “fixed term” contracts will get the same benefits as regular employees. However, since most benefits are proportional to the service period, these employees will actually get very little or nothing. The fact is that workers will be very insecure knowing that they are being employed only for a short time and after that they will be on the road.
Like in the past, this move has been opposed by all the trade unions. The previous National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in 2003 had allowed hiring fixed-term workers but due to pressure from central trade unions the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in 2007, scrapped it. The NDA government had mooted allowing fixed-term contracts for employment in April 2015 by issuing draft rules to amend the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Central (Amendment) Rules, 2015. However after strong opposition from trade unions, it had shelved the proposal last year. Now once again government is trying to push this amendment. Once again all working people must unitedly oppose this amendment.