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CONTEMPT FOR LABOUR: ON DILUTION OF LABOUR LAWS

Introduction

It is amoral and perverse on the part of some States to address this need, for revival of business and economic activity, by granting sweeping exemptions from legal provisions aimed at protecting labourers and employees in factories, industries and other establishments.

What actions have states taken?

  • Madhya Pradesh will be allowing units to be operated without many of the requirements of the Factories Act — working hours may extend to 12 hours, instead of eight, and weekly duty up to 72 hours.
  • This exemption can be given only during a ‘public emergency’, defined in a limited way as a threat to security due to war or external aggression.
  • Uttar Pradesh has approved an ordinance suspending for three years all labour laws, save a few ones relating to the abolition of child and bonded labour, women employees, construction workers and payment of wages, besides compensation to workmen for accidents while on duty.
  • Changes in the manner in which labour laws operate in a State may require the Centre’s assent.

Conclusion

  • Centre is pursuing a labour reform agenda through consolidated codes for wages, industrial relations and occupational safety, health and working conditions.
  • The most egregious aspect of the country’s response to the pandemic was its inability to protect the most vulnerable sections and its vast underclass of labourers from its impact.
  • The emphasis in the initial phase was on dealing with the health crisis, even when the consequence was the creation of an economic crisis.
  • Concerns are to be raised against a government relieving factories of even elementary duties such as providing drinking water, first aid boxes and protective equipment, cleanliness, ventilation, lighting, canteens, restrooms and crèches.

-Source: The Hindu, Economic Times

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October 2022
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