oppn parties Labour Laws: Consensus Needed On Contentious Issues

News Snippets

  • The government decides to decriminalize more than two-thirds of penal sections in the Companies Act
  • Muslim groups tell the Supreme Court that they want the Babri Masjid to be restored
  • Muslim groups claim that while they were asked questions in court, Hindus were not questioned
  • Postpaid mobile services restored in Jammu & Kashmir from today, but still no internet
  • Abhijit Banerjee, an Indian-American currently a professor at MIT, wins the 2019 Noble prize in economics jointly with two others
  • Industrial output slumps in August as the IIP shrinks by 1.1%
  • Prime Minister Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping watch a cultural show at the Shore Temple in Mamallapuram
  • J&K administration lifts the ban on entry of tourists in the Valley, but it remains doubtful how many will visit without being able to use mobile phones and internet
  • After Sena asks members to support the BJP candidate in Kalyan, 26 party corporators and 300 members resign setting off a crisis
  • The Centre sets up a 12-member committee to suggest systemic changes in the GST structure to improve compliance and collection, prevent misuse and evasion and rationalize rates and slabs
  • In line with the RBI outlook on the Indian economy, rating firm Moody's also downgrades growth forecast from 6.8% to 5.8% this year, saying the economy is experiencing a pronounced slowdown
  • HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh says the financial system in India does not offer foolproof security for misuse of the savings of the common man
  • Shivinder Singh and Malvinder Singh, promoters of Ranbaxy and Fortis, arrested for their role in Religare Finvest scam
  • Supreme Court says marriage can be dissolved if it has broken down irretrievably
  • DA of Central government staff hiked by 5% to 17%
Sourav Ganguly is the new president of BCCI, says conflict of interest is a big concern
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Labour Laws: Consensus Needed On Contentious Issues

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.

The government is committed to simplifying labour laws. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced in the budget that the plethora of labour laws would be consolidated under just four codes. Hence, in quick succession, the union cabinet first cleared the code on wages bill and then the occupational, safety, Health and working conditions code.

The first bill seeks to have a statutory national minimum wage for different regions. This is necessary to prevent states from fixing minimum wages below those prescribed by the centre. Many states, especially Nagaland, now have prescribed minimum wage that is much below the national average. The second bill seeks to provide for regular and mandatory medical examinations, issuing of appointment letters and rules for women working in night shifts, among other things. It is good to have consolidated codes as per changing scenario in factories and the best global practices instead of multiple laws which sometimes work at cross purpose.

But any reform in labour laws is full of pitfalls as was evident in the way the government increased the minimum wages by just Rs 2 to prescribe Rs 178 per day as the floor rate while approving the code on wages bill. This was much below the Rs 375 per day suggested by an internal committee of the labour ministry. Considering the working conditions and reservations of industry bodies against very high minimum wages, if the suggested amount was too high, the government could have gone for Rs 200 instead of a token increase.

Then, the pending industrial relations code is being opposed by labour unions on many counts. The unions are particularly opposed to the proviso that allows units employing below 300 workers (up from 100 now) to lay off or retrench workers or even close their units without prior government permission. There would be widespread labour unrest if their concerns are not heard and addressed. The unions have either got to be brought on board or the contentious provisions will need to be amended. Hence, the government will need to build consensus on major issues before rushing to approve the bills.