Industrial Relations Bill Secures Parliamentary Approval

Parliament has formally approved the Industrial Relations Bill. Marking a significant legislative development to ensure workers’ rights to establish unions and actively engage in activities.

The bill, comprising 11 chapters, addresses the absence of specific legal provisions for workers’ unions. Key provisions include delineating areas for workers’ organisations, establishing guidelines for labour and employers’ unions, outlining procedures for collective bargaining to resolve disputes, and defining processes for implementing trade unions.

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During the committee stage, the bill’s Committee on Economic Affairs introduced 24 amendments, including setting minimum thresholds for union registration, procedures for forming unions, and revised penalties. Under the amended provisions, a minimum of seven signatures is required for workers’ union registration, with a minimum of three for employers’ bodies. The maximum fine is set at MVR 50,000, down from the initial MVR 100,000.

Additional changes include adjustments to collective bargaining rules, restructuring the Tripartite Labour Advisory Board and Industrial Dispute Resolution Division, granting the minister authority to appoint the Director General, and extending specific deadlines.

The bill received approval from 68 lawmakers and is slated to come into effect three months after completion of the passage, ratification, and publication in the Gazette.

The need for an industrial relations law has been a long standing demand from workers’ organisations, with the bill presented to Parliament by the state government. Despite initial hurdles and delays, the bill has successfully progressed through the legislative process.

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