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Changes to Labour laws bane for the most vulnerable 

  • IASbaba
  • May 13, 2020
  • 0
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WELFARE/RIGHTS ISSUE

Topic: General Studies 2:

  • Fundamental Rights and Human Rights
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
  • Governance issues

Changes to Labour laws bane for the most vulnerable 

Context:

  • Due to the lockdown amidst COVID-19 pandemic, Indian economy has suffered losses across sectors. 
  • In order to incentivise economic activity, some of the state governments have made significant changes in the labour laws.
  • However, the changes may affect the rights and interests of labourers, who are one of the most vulnerable sections that have been impacted by the pandemic.

The editorial throws light on the following points:

  1. States that have brought changes to the labour laws 
  2. Issues related to changed labour laws
  3. What steps can be taken to to overcome the issues

Which states have changed labour laws? 

  • Madhya Pradesh has allowed business and industries to run without many of the requirements of the Factories Act.
  • Uttar Pradesh has cleared an ordinance which exempts businesses and industries from labour laws, except for a few, for 3 years.
  • Several other states may pursue similar measures in the coming future. 
  • You can read more about these amendments here

Issues related to changed Labour Laws

  1. Exploitation risk
    • These reforms will strip the labour of its basic rights
    • Wages might decrease too. 
    • Suspending most of the provisions under the Factories Act, 1948 and the Industrial Disputes Act,1947 would deny workers of basic working facilities such as cleanliness, drinking water, etc. 
  2. From formal to informal
    • This move will turn the existing formal workers into informal workers as they won’t be any social security.
    • They won’t be able to seek grievance redressal.
    • Fall in wages will further reduce the  demand in the economy. 
  3. Rise of forced Labour
    • Bargaining power of labour and their right to negotiate will reduce and may turn them into Forced Labour.

What steps can be taken to protect the labourers? 

  • The government should partner with the industry and a percentage of the GDP must be allocated for sharing the wage burden and ensuring the health of the labourers.
  • The labour codes proposed by the government should be passed by the parliament as soon as possible.
  • These labour codes are:
    • Labour Codes on Wages
    • Labour Code on Industrial relations
    • Labour Code on Occupational safety, health and working conditions
    • Labour Code on Social Security and Welfare 
  • Labour laws which are applicable to the formal sector should be modified so that an optimum combination of flexibility and security can be ensured. 
  • The compliance of working conditions and regulations should be made more effective and transparent.

Conclusion

There is a need for comprehensive labour laws reforms, so that Indian industries grow sustainably. 

Then only firms will be able to expand and interests of labourers will also be intact. 

Connecting the dots:

  • Do you think the recent amendments brought by State governments to labour laws will boost the Indian economy? 
  • Ordinance in labour laws will cause more harm than good to the labour sector. Critically analyse?

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