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`Labour reforms Bill in Budget session'

Our Bureau

CHENNAI, Oct. 17

COMPREHENSIVE labour reforms are inevitable, and the Union Government aims to introduce in Parliament a Bill on labour reforms in the 2003 Budget session, according to Mr Sahib Singh Verma, Union Labour Minister.

Addressing a seminar on the report of the second national commission on labour here on Thursday, Mr Verma said that the labour reforms were needed to protect the existing industries, attract investments and generate employment. The new legislations will rationalise the 50 existing labour legislations, give a new direction to employer-employee relationship and include the unorganised sector.

The primary aim will be to instil investor confidence while providing a social security net to the labour force. Industrial relations will be founded on trust and sufficient provisions will be provided for the employers and the employees. The trade unions have expressed concern about the hire-and-fire policy, permission to recruit contract labour and temporary workers. But in the competitive scenario such changes are inevitable. With countries like China taking necessary action to enhance competitiveness, the industry here will have to be given the competitive edge, he said.

The employer and the employee will have to pool their resources to survive. Wages, apart from the minimum required for essentials, will have to be linked to productivity and profits shared. While the recommendations of the labour commission are not the final elements that go into the envisaged reforms, the industry and labour representatives are welcome to offer suggestions, he said. The meeting was organised by the Employers' Federation of India, the National Institute of Personnel Management-Chennai Chapter and the Madras Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Later, addressing a press conference, Mr Verma said that the Government was committed to issuing a social security or identity card to every worker. This will help streamline maintenance of provident fund accounts and provide the workers an identity card to avail benefits. Under the Employees' State Insurance scheme, the Centre plans to open model hospitals with upgraded facilities. The Labour Ministry has agreed to the Tamil Nadu Government's request to set up a model hospital in Chennai. It is up to the State Government to identify the hospital, which will be upgraded, he said.

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