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Bridging the gap between employers and workers essential for business to thrive

The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown a huge challenge at the industry and workforce, reeling under economic slowdown and closure of operations

Source | | Karishma Ravindran

Chennai: The distinguishing feature of an industry is that for the production of goods or for the rendering of service, co-operation between capital and labour or between the employer and his employees must be direct and must be essential.” The observation of Justice V R Krishna Iyer, judge of the Supreme Court in the case of Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board, in 1978 can be a lesson for employers and workers at loggerheads today.

The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown a huge challenge at the industry and workforce, reeling under economic slowdown and closure of operations. A few employers have paid full wages to employees during the lockdown period. Some have paid in part and a few not at all. In Tamil Nadu, workers from other states are categorised under contract labour in the eye of law. Their plight is worse as the majority of managements have not paid any amount to contractors who supply manpower as their services were not used.

Does this situation inspire confidence? Not at all. Urgent solution is necessary to avoid serious industrial unrest post lockdown. Interpretation of provision of Disaster Management Act, 2005 The Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 and a host of industrial laws including the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, or decisions of judicial forums would not provide lasting peace. The industry should take its workers into confidence. A workforce with empty stomachs and starved family members cannot render service.

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