ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

K R Shyam SundarSubscribe to RSS - K R Shyam Sundar

Labour Law, Governance Reforms, and Protests

Employers and critics of labour regulation have been arguing for the liberalisation of labour laws, and for governance and compliance systems, following the liberalisation of the product market to enable firms to respond swiftly and suitably to fast-changing market conditions. The trade unions opposed this even as the government was seemingly favourably disposed towards employers’ demands. The countrywide strikes that have taken place since 1991 have become controversial not merely due to their high frequency but also for their lack of legitimacy as reforms appear to be a foregone conclusion and the protest politics seems to be vain and economically hurting the nation. This paper explores the dynamics of the countrywide strikes and examines whether some of the demands of trade unions are justified.

Preet Rustagi (1967–2017)

It is with deep regret that I share the news of the sudden demise of Preet Rustagi, professor at the Institute for Human Development (IHD), New Delhi on 21 August 2017. She was all set to join the International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW) in New Delhi. Preet distinguished herself in her...

Sharit K Bhowmik Has Left Us

We are all saddened to learn that Sharit K Bhowmik passed away in Bangkok on 8 September 2016. He had so much still to give to the world of ideas and the workers’ movement. He worked in the Mumbai University and later the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. I had the pleasure of interacting...

Industrial Conflict in India in the Post-Reform Period

The processes of liberalisation, globalisation, and privatisation were expected to weaken the bargaining power of workers vis-à-vis employers and lead to a reduction in the number and frequency of industrial conflicts. However, the reform measures were in some cases successfully opposed by trade unions, and in some cases they also led to aggressive labour market practices by employers. This has resulted in tensions, work stoppages, and even violence. Even unorganised workers have participated in these agitations in a big way. This paper examines the features of industrial conflict using both official data and qualitative information as official statistics do not adequately capture the variety and dynamics of industrial conflicts.

The Myth of Inspector-Raj in India

By ending license-raj in the product market economic liberalisation demands termination of inspector raj in the labour market. However, facts do not bear out the efficiency that is expected to come about by reducing labour regulation in factories.

Social Dialogue

The BJP government might have embarked on knee-jerk labour reform measures with an eye on the capital market, but sustainable goals on labour reforms can only be achieved through social dialogue. The absence and stagnation of social dialogue with regard to these reforms reveals the positional rigidities of all the constituent parties.

Industrial Violence and Labour Reforms

The pursuit of the low-cost flexibility model by employers to hire and fire workers and the use of unconventional methods to defend and secure labour rights by trade unions and workers have produced varied and sometimes dangerous outcomes, such as in the Maruti conflict. These conflicts highlight the need for a comprehensive set of reforms that take into account the agendas of both sides.

Essential Services Maintenance Act

The "colonial logic" of control has been replaced by the "logic of globalisation" that strives to maintain uninterrupted economic services and a conducive climate to attract capital. The invocation of the Essential Services Maintenance Act by almost all political parties at one time or another (except the left) is a clear manifestation of this.


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