'New labour codes weakened trade unions, removed ‘security net’ for workers'

Agencies
September 26, 2020

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New Delhi, Sept 26: Describing the three labour codes passed by Parliament as "anti-labour", the Congress on Saturday attacked the government, alleging the legislations have "weakened" trade unions and removed the "security net" for workers.

Parliament on Wednesday approved the three labour codes that will remove impediments to winding up of companies and allow firing of staff without government permission in firms with up to 300 workers from the existing 100.

Attacking the government over the bills, senior Congress leader and former minister of labour and employment Mallikarjun Kharge said the government's claim that the laws will increase ease of doing business is false.

"They have weakened trade unions and finished the security and safety for the workers," he told an online media briefing.

"States' powers have been usurped by the central government with these laws. These codes are anti-worker, anti-labourer and it is important to agitate against them," the Rajya Sabha MP said.

"All parties must oppose these laws. The Modi government only listens to corporates and after these laws it will not listen to trade unions," he said.

Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera alleged this government is "betraying the interests" of different sections one after another.

As the issue of injustice to farmers was ongoing, this government betrayed workers, just like farmers," he said.

"The government made the excuse while bringing in the new labour laws there will be ease of doing business and it will be beneficial for all. But if you look at the laws it is clear that there is no protection and relief for workers in these laws," Khera said.

Despite the country witnessing the hardships of migrant labourers during the lockdown, there is no provision for them in these laws, he claimed.

"It is in the DNA of the government to set aside democratic principles and force its decisions on the people," Khera alleged and claimed the laws were passed by Parliament in a rush.

Indian National Trade Union Congress president G Sanjeeva Reddy alleged that there is no provision for safety and security of workers in these bills.

"We will protest and struggle against these unjust, anti-labour and anti-trade union laws," he said.

These laws have been brought for strengthening and helping the capitalists and corporates not the workers, he alleged, claiming that under the new provisions, the workers will not be able to go on strike or raise their voice against unjust practices.

There was protection for workers earlier as permission was needed to lay off more than 100 workers, but now that "security net" is gone with the increase in threshold to 300, he said.

"About 2-3 crore small scale industries have been excluded from this protection," he claimed.

On Wednesday, Rajya Sabha had passed by voice vote, the three labour codes on industrial relations, social security and occupational safety amid a boycott by opposition parties, including the Congress and the Left, over the suspension of eight MPs.

The first code on wages was approved by Parliament last year. With passage of these three codes, 29 central labour laws have been codified into four broad codes as contemplated by the government under labour reforms to improve ease of doing business and providing universal social security to workers as well.

The three codes were passed by Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

"The purpose of labour reforms is to provide a transparent system to suit the changed business environment," Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar had said in the Rajya Sabha while replying to the debate on the three labour reforms bills.

The minister had also told the House that as many as 16 states have already increased the threshold for closure, lay off and retrenchment in firms with up to 300 workers without government permission.

The Opposition has also been protesting the passage of three agriculture-related bills -- Farmer's Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

They have been passed by both Houses and await presidential assent.

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News Network
October 19,2020

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Mumbai, Oct 19: TV viewership rating agency BARC India has charged Republic TV of misrepresenting its private and confidential communication, saying it has not commented on the ongoing investigation into the alleged manipulation of ratings.

In a statement, Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) said it was cooperating with the law enforcement agencies in their ongoing investigation in the Television Rating Points (TRP) manipulation case.

Responding to claims by Republic TV that an email from BARC gives proof of the channel not being involved in any alleged malpractices, the agency said it was "highly disappointed" with the broadcaster's actions.

"BARC India is highly disappointed with the actions of the Republic Network by disclosing private and confidential communications and misrepresenting the same.

"BARC India reiterates that it has not commented on the ongoing investigation and without prejudice to BARC India's rights, it expresses its dismay at the actions of the Republic Network," it said.

Mumbai police, on a BARC complaint, is investigating allegations of manipulation of TRP ratings. Republic TV is one of the four channels being investigated.

The BARC statement came after Republic TV disclosed what it said was an email conversation between the agency's CEO Sunil Lulla and Republic Media Network CEO Vikas Khanchandani.

As per the TV network's website, Khanchandani wrote an email to BARC on October 16, to "confirm in public domain" that the body has found no infringement by Republic.

"In response to Khanchandani's email, BARC responded on October 17, by thanking the network for their 'faith in the internal mechanisms of BARC' and said that 'if there was any disciplinary action initiated against ARG Outlier Media (Republic's owner), then BARC India would have communicated the same to you along with necessary documents for your response"," the website said.

"Thus, this e-mail proves that BARC did not allege any malpractice against the Republic Media Network," it added.

Reacting to BARC's statement, Republic TV owner Arnab Goswami told PTI, that the email of BARC confirms that the police commissioner lied. (Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh) should immediately quit, Goswami said.

BARC did not elaborate on the exact parts of the email which makes it feel that the communication was "misrepresented".

Six people have been arrested by the police in the scam, which allegedly involves inducing homes which form the sample set whose TV viewing is monitored to ensure that certain channels get higher ratings. The ratings are a key influencer of advertiser preferences while placing commercials. The police claim this is a "multi-crore" scam.

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Agencies
October 8,2020

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New Delhi, Oct 8: The Supreme Court Thursday said freedom of speech and expression is the most abused right in recent times.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde, which was hearing pleas of Jamiat Ulama I Hind and others alleging that a section of media was spreading communal hatred over Tablighi Jamaat congregation during the onset of COVID-19 pandemic, pulled up the Centre for its "evasive" and "brazen" affidavit on the issue.

Freedom of speech and expression is the most abused right in recent times, the apex court said.

The bench observed this when senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for Jamaat, said the Centre in its affidavit has stated that petitioners are trying to muzzle freedom of speech and expression.

To this, the bench said, They are free to make any averment in their affidavit like you are free to make any argument you want.

The bench was irked over the fact that instead of secretary of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, an additional secretary filed the affidavit which contained unnecessary and nonsensical averments with regard to media reporting in Tablighi Jamaat issue.

You cannot treat this court the way you are doing in this case, said the bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian.

The apex court sought an affidavit from the I&B secretary with details of steps taken in the past to stop motivated media reporting in such cases.

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News Network
October 13,2020

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Actor-politician Khushbu Sundar on Tuesday claimed she was insulted in the Congress and wondered how the grand old outfit could do good for the nation when there was "no freedom to speak the truth" within the party.

A day after joining the BJP, Sundar said though Congress set in motion initiatives like the Goods and Services Tax while it was in power, it was keen on only finding faults, be it the tax reforms or the farm laws of the Centre just for the sake of opposing the saffron party.

Even while she was in the Congress, the actor said she had welcomed the National Education Policy and abolition of the triple talaq.

"I was insulted (in Congress party) and not invited for party events.

I used to get to know about programmes only after seeing newspapers," she claimed, addressing her maiden press conference at the BJP's Tamil Nadu headquarters 'Kamalalayam' here.

Despite such an ambience, she remained committed to the Congress till she quit it, she said.

She joined the BJP at Delhi on Monday after quitting Congress where she had been its national spokesperson for six years.

Pointing to leaders including Jyotiraditya Scindia quitting the Congress and the party "sidelining 23 leaders" who wrote to top leader Sonia Gandhi recently, she asked: "when there is no freedom to speak the truth within the party, how then could one expect it to do good for the country."

Asked on her taking part in a recent protest here over the Hathras case and attacking the BJP, she said at that time she was in the Congress and hence toed the party line and she was also requested by office-bearers in Delhi. To a question on switching loyalties between one party to another, she said she would stay put with the BJP for all time.

From 2010 to 2014, she was with the DMK.

Known for her views espousing the rights of women, the actor said she continued to remain a "Periyarist" (follower of rationalist leader Periyar's ideology) as she would go on to champion the cause of women.

She said Periyar fought for the rights of women and oppressed people including Dalits and to be a Periyarist, there was no need to subscribe to all of his ideologies, seen as a reference to his commitment to atheism.

Also, she said the BJP as well stood for the rights of women and Dalits.

On some in Congress claiming that they saw her as a mere actor when she was with the party, she said it only showed their "male chauvinism" that no woman should come up in her life based on her talent and work.

To a question, she said just because that she has joined the party she did not expect the organisation to field her in elections (Assembly elections next year).

"I leave it to senior party leaders." Asked about claims that she joined the BJP only because of her husband Sundar C's persuasion, she dismissed it and asserted that she came to the party on her own for doing good to people and not expecting anything.

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