The Assam government has enacted the Industrial Disputes (Assam Amendment) Bill, 2017, which authorises employers to retrench up to 300 employees without seeking approval of the government. As in Rajasthan, which was the first among states to pass anti-labour legislation, Assam has legislated this in the name of “labour reform”. The Assam assembly passed the bill by a voice vote on 7 Sept.
The Statement of Objects and Reason for the Bill said that the amendment seeks to “achieve the objective of ‘ease of doing business’ and thereby encouraging positive business environment in the state.” Positive business environment means curbing of workers’ rights in the interest of capitalists. This is the reason for such a “reform”.
Some spokespersons of the capitalist class want to make out that this will lead to more employment as now businesses will hire more employees beyond a hundred and upto 300. This is a common justification offered by those in favour of such anti-labour reforms. The Minister for Labour and Employment in the Assam government even went so far as to claim that the “Government of India and Assam are taking steps to protect the security of workers.”