Govt introduces three crucial Bills on labour laws in Lok Sabha amid Congress’ opposition

Amid opposition, the government on Saturday introduced three crucial labour legislations including the Code on Industrial Relations, the Social Security Code and the Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Condition in the Lok Sabha, paving way for labour reforms in the country.

“We have included 174 out of 233 or 74% of the recommendations of the standing committee on labour across three codes being introduced again as they have undergone substantial changes,” labour and employment minister Santosh Gangwar said in Lok Sabha while introducing the bills.

According to minister Gangwar, even the preamble of the Social Security Code has undergone changes. Before introducing the new bills with substantive changes, the minister had withdrawn the three codes tabled in the Parliament in 2019.

“The government had held nine rounds of tripartite consultations while drafting the three codes,” minister Gangwar added.

The codes will give powers to state governments on rules related to hiring, retrenchment and fixing work hours in their factories and establishments while restricting powers of the workers to form unions. Besides, it will ensure the government extends social security to all, including the unorganised and gig workers in a phased manner.

The union labour ministry has consolidated and amalgamated 29 labour laws into four codes to significantly improve the ease of compliance and hiring and firing of workers while keeping the labour welfare under consideration. The government had earlier notified the Code on Wages which provides for national level floor wage for all workers. The Code, is however, yet to be implemented.

Congress MP Manish Tewari objected to the introduction of the three labour codes saying labour ministry should have again consulted all stakeholders before introducing the new bills as they have undergone “substantial transformation”.

Even Shashi Tharoor raised objections to the introduction of new bills saying mandatory two days of time should have been given to the House to study the Bills.

Labour minister Gangwar, however, assured that the government will take into consideration points raised during the discussion of the three bills in the House.

The code on occupational safety, health and working conditions (OSH&WC Code) and the industrial relations code (IR Code) will give autonomy to states to amend labour laws to suit their industrial needs and attract investments through labour reforms without seeking Centre’s permission.