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Reform labour policy to spur competitiveness
Feb '08
Mr. Oscar Fernandes, Union Minister for Labour and Employment, said that the government had an open mind on 'fixed term employment', withdrawal of which from the 'Standing Orders Act, 1946' has been termed as a retrograde step.

Inaugurating the 74th Annual General Meeting of the All India Organisation of Employers (AIOE), Mr. Fernandes said: “We are willing to re-start the dialogue with industry along with trade unions to see what needs to be done, how well the concerns of the industry can be addressed on 'fixed term employment'”.

The 'fixed term employment' introduced in the Standing Orders Act, 1946, provided freedom to industry to employ manpower for short term and contingent jobs. This also served as a cushion against hiring contract workers, where there are frequent complaints of exploitation.

Stating that corporate social responsibility reflects ethical issues, when there is no direct law or regulation that is being violated, but a principle of fairness is involved, Mr. Fernandes said: “It is now for your consideration whether fair practice with regard to labour standards would be voluntarily reported along with financial statements now or we wait for external stimulus from our export markets.”

Enhanced occupational safety and health of workers has to be an integral part of any futuristic labour policy. The Labour Minister said: “If India has to emerge as a major economy and make strides as a manufacturing country, we have to lay even greater emphasis on healthy conditions of work at workplace, a number of legislative provisions are already in existence to ensure occupational safety and health of workers in mines, factories and ports. All these laws need to be constantly reviewed so that they fir in with the changing conditions.”

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