Govt plans labour congress to settle industry disputes

The Mamata Banerjee government is planning a State Labour Congress to create a platform for workers and industries to exchange their views and settle disputes in the presence of government representatives.

The move comes in the backdrop of militant trade unionism that reportedly compelled the ABG-led Haldia Bulk Terminal to wrap up its operations at Haldia Dock Complex.

The chief minister has repeatedly claimed that loss of mandays has dropped because of a drastic fall in strikes and lockouts, but the industrial community is concerned over the fate of industrialisation because of Mamata's hands-off land policy and alleged collection of extortion money by trade unions, which are mostly controlled by the ruling Trinamool Congress in some industrialised parts of the state.

Labour Minister Purnendu Basu said, "The National Labour Congress is held by the Centre every year but there was no such initiative from the earlier state government to hold a similar event in the state. We are planning a State Labour Congress to create a friendly environment to enable industrialists' and workers' representatives to hold discussions freely. The event is likely to be held in January. The venue has not been finalised," Basu told The Indian Express.

Union labour ministry officials and chambers of commerce and industries will also be invited to the meeting.

Asked about problems the industrial units are facing, Basu said: "Mostly they want to amend certain clauses of labour-related laws. They have also been facing land-related problems. We will discuss all these problems in a conducive environment."

He added, "Labourers are facing problems related to wages. They complain that industrial units do not comply with social security schemes for labourers and minimum wages are not being given."

Asked if the state government had received complaints of excess trade unionism, Basu replied in the negative. His remarks came a day after a senior official of Jai Balaji Industries was beaten up allegedly by a Trinamool trade union leader at his Durgapur home.

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