Government Introduces Three Labour Bills In Lok Sabha Amid Opposition
Workers labour at the Bandra Kurla Complex exhibition ground in Mumbai, on May 6, 2020. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Government Introduces Three Labour Bills In Lok Sabha Amid Opposition

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The central government has introduced three bills related to labour laws—including on industrial relations—in the Lok Sabha, amid opposition from the Congress and few other parties.

On Saturday, Labour Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar introduced the Occupational Safety, Health And Working Conditions Code, 2020; the Industrial Relations Code, 2020, and the Code On Social Security, 2020. He withdrew the three bills that were introduced last year and introduced the three new ones.

According to the minister, over 29 labour laws have been merged into four codes and that one of them—The Code on Wages Bill, 2019—was passed last year.

Gangwar said that the government is engaged in wider consultations over these bills with various stakeholders and that more than 6,000 comments were received online on the bills. These bills were later sent to a standing committee and 174 of its 233 recommendations have been accepted, the minister said.

Congress leaders Manish Tewari and Shashi Tharoor opposed the introduction of the three bills. Tewari said these three bills are fundamentally different from their earlier version and urged Gangwal to withdraw them and hold wider consultations before introducing them.

These bills are also a blow to the rights of workers, he said.

Regarding the bill on occupational safety, health and working conditions, Tharoor said it fails to have specific provisions to safeguard interests of unorganised sector workers and also that there was no exclusive chapter on inter-state migrant workers. He also said the bill is discriminatory since there is no specific provision on women's welfare.

With respect to the industrial relations code, he said that it severely restricts the right of workers to strike and also allows state or central governments to amend threshold for applicability relating to layoffs and retrenchment.

Opposing the bills, Communist Party of India (Marxist) member AM Arif said the bills should be send to the standing committee. Earlier, Revolutionary Socialist Party leader NK Premachandran opposed withdrawal of three bills which the new draft legislations replaced.

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