Public Sector Bargaining

Public sector undertakings is done according to the guidelines issued by the Department of public Enterprises (earlier known as the Bureau of Public Enterprises). This department gives the content and limits of financial commitments which public enterprise can make with the union during the course of bargaining. However, in many instances these limits are circumvented by the management by making gentleman’s promises with the unions on several issues outside the written agreement and implementing these promises over a period through administrative orders.

In core industries like steel, coal, ports and docks and bank, collective bargaining is done at the national level for the industry as a whole. Thus, in steel industry, one main collective agreement is entered into by the National Joint Committee comprising representatives of trade unions and the steel companies’ management. This is followed by several supplementary agreements being entered into at the plant level to cover aspects not covered in the national level agreement. Such centralized bargaining has resulted in creating uniform wage structures and fringe benefit patterns in all public sector units irrespective of the nature of industry (labour or capital-intensive) and the paying capacity of a unit as determined by its financial performance. This is sharp contrast to a private sector unit where its wages and fringe benefits are more geared to its specific requirements and circumstances.

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