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Industry-labour relations have improved dramatically  in the first three months of the current year as compared to the same period last year. The number of strikes across industrial units fell to just 11 during the January-March period of 2018 from 36 in the same period of 2017 and 26 in 2016. Similarly, lock-outs went down to 9 during the three-month period of the current year from 17 in the same period of 2017 and 19 in 2016.

The man-days lost, as a result, declined sharply to 96,770 in the January-March period of 2018 from 11,72,274 in 2017 and 10,34,005 in 2016.

The number of workers affected due to strikes and lockouts in the three-month period of 2018 fell in comparison with the respective numbers of 2017 and 2016. While the cumulative number of affected workers were 13,195 in 2018, it was 259,634 in 2017 and 93,518 in 2016.

The improvement in industrial relations in the past one year augurs well for the country’s investment climate and ranking in the World Bank’s ease of doing business index, where India for the first time stormed into the top 100 list.

Immediately after assuming office, the Narendra Modi government took up the long-pending labour reforms with the objective of making India a global manufacturing hub and ensuring the ease of doing business. But many of the proposals aimed at labour market flexibility, as contained in the Industrial Relations Code, are yet to be approved by the Parliament.

The Budget has extended fixed-term employment, which used to exist in the garment and leather industries, to other areas as well. On the legislative front, the government has enhanced the eligibility limit for payment of bonus from Rs 10,000 to Rs 21,000 per month and the calculation ceiling from `3,500 to `7,000. The Payment of Wages (Amendment) Act, 2017 enables payment of wages by cash or cheque or crediting it to bank account, thereby limiting scope of unscrupulous employers exploiting workers.

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