Labourers never react well to changes in the business cycle that managements have to confront. But sometimes— as with the murder this week of Roy George, an executive at auto parts manufacturer Pricol, who was brutally attacked by angry workers in Coimbatore after 42 of them were dismissed—the reaction goes too far.
The Coimbatore incident comes a year after the CEO of an Italian auto parts maker in Noida was similarly killed. And it again demonstrates a legal and political regime that not just protects labour, but also emboldens it.
A plethora of labour legislation, especially the 1947 Industrial Disputes Act, restricts the freedom employers can exercise in hiring and firing. This has limited the expansion of labour-intensive manufacturing for decades.
More than that, the combination of such laws and political support from the Left Front continues to grant de facto legal immunity to powerful union bosses. The Left will take years, if not decades, to wise up. But it’s definitely time for legal reform.