Melting of Labour Laws
IMPORTANCE OF LABOR LAWS
The working class has been ostensibly increased in the past hundred years or more and so do the laws regulating and protecting their interests. The foremost idea behind enacting of these laws is to determine the rights and obligation of working people and the organisation. It had been achieved through arduous struggle done by the labour community to save them from oppression done by industrialists and factory owners in the course of economic history.
Labour community is supposed to be a vulnerable group of society and it’s the different legislation which protects their interests from greedy industrialist and these laws become even more dominant in times of economic crisis which we are facing due to COVID-19.
SUSPENSION AND DILUTION OF LABOUR LAWS
Uttar Pradesh government approved an ordinance exempting business from the purview of almost all the labour laws for the next three years to attract investment in the state and to stabilize the economy after the pandemic. The building and other construction workers act, 1996, workmen compensation act, 1923, bonded labour system (abolition) act, 1976 and section 5 of the payment of wages act, 1976(the right to receive timely wages) are the only 3 laws which will be in force for the next three years out of the total 38 labour laws which protect the labour sector and except those three acts mentioned above, all will be nullified for the period of next three years which includes (The Industrial Dispute Act, Occupational Safety and Health Act, Contract Labour Act, Migrant Labour Act, Equal Remuneration Act) and other major or minor acts. The ordinance has been sent for the approval from the central government because labour is a subject of Concurrent list and after the centre's nod, the ordinance will be applied into the state which means any working-class member will not be able to hold the right to ask for a clean workplace or to ask for the minimum wage which are the fundamental rights of the workers.
Further, the State of Madhya Pradesh has also announced the suspension of various labour laws like the working hour has been extended from 8 hours to 12 hours and there will be no provision for bonuses in the territory of the state. States like Karnataka, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh are also expecting to relax labour laws which give protection to the workers.
A statement released from the government indicates that they want to bring the economy back on track and it seems new industrial investment opportunities are the utmost priority for them after the loss occurred because of the standstill of the economy and economical activities brought by the current pandemic.
JEOPARDIZING OF RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS
If this ordinance gets the nod from the centre then it will be a slap to some of the article of the Constitution of India. These articles not only give the basic right but also secure the dignity of working-class people and some of them are as follow,
Article 19 (1) c; it gives the right to form association or unions
Article 42; it ensures human conditions of work and maternity relief
Article 38 (2); every state needs to minimize the inequalities in income.
Also, International labour standard identified four issues considered as core principles and rights in the workplace which also includes “rights in the workplace and freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining”. International labour organisation strictly suggests the following basic principle as it provides dignity to the workers.
OPTIONS LEFT WITH WORKERS
Renowned economist and labour laws practitioner doubt the legality of the ordinance and of the opinion that it is arbitrary and will be quashed very soon in the court of law. Different labour union considering about filing cases against this horrific step in various institutions including international labour law and it will be very interesting to watch the validity of those laws for which they have fought enormously over the years. Before that, we also need to look towards the decision of the central government because the central government hold superior power over subjects of concurrent list.
Although, there has been speculation that the central government won’t take any step which gives them another reason to worry in this time of distress.
This is the time when “We the people” of India should question ourselves about our commitments that we had given to our society in those days when we got our freedom, Because this silence can cause us a deadly outbreak of hate and anger “Kyuki majdoor majboor ho skta hai lekin kamjor kabhi ni”.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Adarsh Bhardwaj is currently studying in ILS, Pune.
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