State cleared 72 fac­tory clo­sures in 20 yrs, nearly 40% of ap­pli­ca­tions

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES CITY - @times­

Mum­bai: As the state moves to re­form laws on fac­tory clo­sures and re­trench­ments, the lat­est avail­able data shows that it cleared the clo­sure of only 72 fac­to­ries with 100 and more work­ers in Ma­ha­rash­tra in the two decades be­tween 1994 and 2013.

Dur­ing this pe­riod, 185 such fac­to­ries had ap­plied for clo­sure per­mis­sions. The state cleared 39% of cases and re­jected 23.7% or 44 cases. Also, 24 cases were with­drawn and 42 re­ferred to the in­dus­trial court, ac­cord­ing to data from the labour com­mis­sioner’s of­fice. This is a small frac­tion of the state’s fac­to­ries. Ma­ha­rash­tra has 37,234 fac­to­ries with 25.16 lakh work­ers.

Of­fi­cials say this shows very few fac­to­ries opt to close down and those that do are fac­ing heavy losses. As a re­sult, laws need to be lib­er­al­ized to al­low for eas­ier clo­sure options as long as work­ers are com­pen­sated, they

(for fac­to­ries with over 100 work­ers)

hout state nod if they give 60 days’ no­tice and 60 days’ com­pen­sa­tion to work­ers for each year of con­tin­u­ous ser­vice.

Ma­jor trade unions in­clud­ing those af­fil­i­ated to the rul­ing par­ties have op­posed the re­forms. “The re­quire­ment of state clear­ances meant there was a check on com­pa­nies. There were ne­go­ti­a­tions with work­ers which of­ten re­sulted in higher com­pen­sa­tion than that of­fered in the Act,” said San­jay Wad­havkar of Hind Maz­door Sabha. “Cur­rently, fac­to­ries pre­fer to shift to states which of­fer con­ces­sions. This is a loss to the state and a set­back to work­ers.”

But com­pa­nies say un­der cur­rent laws, they are shack­led to loss-mak­ing fac­to­ries. “If they can eas­ily close loss-mak­ing fac­to­ries, there will be greater in­vest­ment. No busi­ness can sur­vive heavy losses. See what hap­pened after Mum­bai’s tex­tile mill strike,” said for­mer In­dian Mer­chants Cham­ber pres­i­dent Pra­bodh Thakker.

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