Trade unions oppose changes to Factories Act

NEW DELHI: The central trade unions, in a meeting with Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya, have opposed the Centre’s proposed change to empower states to increase threshold limit for coverage of factories under the Factories Act, 1948.
“The central trade unions strongly object to the amendment proposed to the definition of ‘factory’ giving powers to State Governments to increase the threshold limits of workers up to 20 and 40 in the case of establishments working with and without the aid of power respectively,” a joint memorandum submitted by 12 central trade unions to the Labour Minister said.

The unions demanded covering all manufacturing firms under the Factories Act. The present Factories Act, 1948 applies to establishments with 10 or more workers, if the premise is using power and to establishments with 20 or more workers, without electricity connection.
The Centre has proposed an enabling provision that lets State governments decide the threshold over which a unit will be considered a factory for the purpose of the law.
License needed
The unions also opposed another proposal allowing entrepreneurs to set up factory without getting a license. The Centre believes that the registration of factories on a web-based portal would be enough.
“In the name of online registration, the process of self-certification coupled with deemed approval and the removal of licencing will result in freeing the employer of any regulatory control. This will endanger the health and safety of workers and society at large,” the unions said.
A trade union leader said the Labour Ministry officials remained tight-lipped on its earlier proposal to create a new for factories with less than 40 workers, proposed as the Small Factories Bill, 2015.
The labour unions requested the government to circulate the draft Bill to amend the Factories Act, 1948.
The Labour Ministry circulated a note to the unions stating the proposed changes to the Act instead of copy of the draft Bill. “The Labour Minister assured that the copy of amended Bill will be sent to trade unions for their comments,” D.L.Sachdev, Secretary, All India Trade Union Congress said.