VV Giri National Labour Institute, the “centre of excellence” in labour research and training under the Union Labour Ministry, has roped in The Art of Living International Centre, Bengaluru, for training officers of the Labour Ministry and its arms in enhancing the quality of work and work relations. The five-day course, beginning on November 28 in Bengaluru, is aimed at empowering the officers with necessary skill sets which will enhance their competencies for personal excellence and behavioural competencies along with “stress management”. Trade unions, however, have questioned this and termed the association using public money “shocking”.
According to the institute, the programme’s objective is to help and equip people with simple and practical tools and techniques to get rid of stress, anxiety and negativity. The institute claims that the course will help them to achieve a stress-free, calm, happy and peaceful mind. The programme is designed for the senior officers of the Labour Ministry, Central Labour Commissionerate, Labour Bureau, Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) and the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC). The institute has sent letters to all these offices asking them to send at least four-five officers for the course. Each participant will be charged ₹37,500 for the course.
“Overall physical, mental and emotional well-being, renewed sense of enthusiasm and optimism, harmonious inter-personal relationships, improved clarity of mind and decision making, broader vision and a sense of belonging with people, enriching team work, conflict resolution, enriching ethical and human values, and aligning the teams with a common shared vision,” says the course profile shared by the institute with the offices. The methodology of the course will be lectures, individual and group exercises, case studies and experience sharing. The faculty will be provided by the representatives from the Department of Government Programs, The Art of Living.
Trade unions said it was shocking to look at the institute designing programmes by collaborating with Art of Living International in the name of training officers to tackle the issues of stress and anxiety, that too with huge expenditure of ₹37,500 on each participant. “The officers to attend are from the ESIC and the EPFO also. It is clear that the money will be shelled by the ESIC and the EPFO and it is workers’ money. From other departments of the government also public money to be used. It is misuse of the workers’ money as well as searching solutions through preachers than through medical science teachings,” said AITUC general secretary Amarjeet Kaur.
Ms. Kaur added that the institute was acting under the pressure of the Labour Ministry. “Similarly, the institute has been conducting workshops on the four Labour Codes. The codes are yet to be implemented and trade unions have opposed their implementation. Conducting training sessions for officers and trade union leaders on the four labour codes is neglecting the opposition of workers. The institute is doing this at the behest of the Ministry,” she added. The institute held at least three training programmes in connection with the Labour Codes recently, including a “Capacity Building Programme on Labour Codes and Rules.”