Pro-labour Karnataka IAS officer’s transfer stirs hornets’ nest

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The Karnataka government,’s decision shunt out a senior IAS officer who played a key role in dealing with the problems of migrant workers in the state amid coronavirus restrictions without new posting has created ripples in the social media.

The Karnataka government,’s decision shunt out a senior IAS officer who played a key role in dealing with the problems of migrant workers in the state amid coronavirus restrictions without new posting has created ripples in the social media.

The order issued by the government on Monday night to remove Captain Manivarnnan P from the twin posts of principal secretary of the labour department and department of information and public relations has set off online campaigns on change.org to ‘bring back’ the captain.

The government has not cited any reason for his unceremonious removal from the key positions. A News18 report said that the order came amid reports that Manivannan had been speaking up for the rights of workers at a time when several sections of the industry were trying to get labour laws relaxed on the pretext that lockdown had severely hit the manufacturing and construction sectors.

He was said to be against a lobby, which tried to build up pressure for UP model suspension of labour laws in order to boost industrial development in the state. The Uttar Pradesh government had last week cleared an ordinance that suspends almost all labour laws in the state for three years, including those that guarantee minimum wage, equal remuneration for women and men, fair practices of hiring and firing, and worker safety and sanitation.

The lobby apparently saw the pro-labour IAS officer a big hurdle. One such lobby group, the Bangalore Employers Association, even wrote to Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa seeking change of 'leadership in the labour department'.

They accused the labour secretary of "instigating" workers to lodge complaints against their own employers who were not in a position to pay wages during the lockdown. The association in its letter stated that over 700 workers had lodged complaints against their employers through the labour department's portal after this effort.

However, if this was the reason for Manivannan’s ouster, why he divested of the Information department post is not clear. Hours after the transfer order — without another posting —came out, citizen groups started an online campaign to get the government to retain him in overall effort against Covid-19.

Manivannan P, was an active user of social media platforms. A Telegram group he initiated for the public to raise queries about the coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent lockdown imposed due to it has received much applause.

As the Principal Secretary of the Labour Department, he was forced to reverse his decision to issue notices to employers for not paying full salary or wages for April, in less than 24 hours.

The labour department had come under severe criticism recently for the way the migrant labourer crisis was dealt with. Hundreds of migrant labourers complained that they had not received food and wages, and many had started walking back to their respective states (with inputs from News18 and News Minute)

Image Credit: News Minute

 

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