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

Articles by K R Shyam SundarSubscribe to K R Shyam Sundar

Occupational Safety Continues to be Ignored as a Right

Newspaper reports of workplace accidents have been appearing with an alarming frequency even as lawmakers have been busy drafting and redrafting the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code. During the COVID-19 period alone, 30 industrial accidents occurred in India, killing at least 75 workers and injuring hundreds (IndustriALL Global Union 2020). This article offers a critical review of the code and enforcement machinery to assess whether the new code and the administrative system can ensure safe workplaces.

Critiquing the Industrial Relations Code Bill, 2019

The Industrial Relations Code, one of the four labour codes codified from the erstwhile central labour laws, aims to promote the ease of doing business and spur investment by encouraging labour flexibility. A critical examination of the code suggests that it will fail to create a conducive and efficient industrial relations environment, and will neither promote the ease of doing business nor serve workers’ welfare.

Changes to Labour Laws by State Governments Will Lead to Anarchy in the Labour Market

The suspension of labour laws will intensify informality in the Indian workforce in several ways. Multiple labour market securities in the formal sector like employment, health and safety, skills, and income will either be weakened or destroyed. In these difficult times, the collectivisation of workers is essential to restore stability and solidarity in the workforce to mitigate economic hardships in the post-lockdown period.

Dynamics of General Strikes in India

The character of workers’ protests has significantly changed in the post-reform period thanks to the neo-liberal forces that have sought to weaken the collective institutions. However, the Central Trade Unions rely on general strikes to protest and demand changes. How effective is this form of agitation in present times?

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.

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.

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.


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