09 May, 2020
10 Min Read
Dilution of labour laws
At a time when everyone is awaiting an early end to the health and economic crisis caused by the global pandemic, the interests of labourers and workers are once again set to be sacrificed.
Under the Constitution of India, Labour is a subject in the Concurrent List where both the Central & State Governments are competent to enact legislation subject to certain matters being reserved for the Centre
States diluting labour laws
It is amoral and perverse on the part of some States to address this need by granting sweeping exemptions from legal provisions aimed at protecting labourers and employees in factories, industries and other establishments.
1. Madhya Pradesh has embarked on a plan to give a boost to business and industry by allowing units to be operated without many of the requirements of the Factories Act —
a. Working hours may extend to 12 hours, instead of eight, and
b. Weekly duty up to 72 hours.
The State has used Section 5 of the Act, which permits exemption from its provisions for three months, in the hope that the Centre would approve such suspension for at least a thousand days.
Section 5 : However, 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.
2. 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.
Reports suggest that several States are following their example in the name of boosting economic activity.
Changes in the manner in which labour laws operate in a State may require the Centre’s assent.
One hopes the Centre, which is pursuing a labour reform agenda through consolidated codes for wages, industrial relations and occupational safety, health and working conditions, would not readily agree to wholesale exemptions from legal safeguards and protections the law now affords to workers.
Section 5 of Factories Act,1948
Section 5 in The Factories Act, 1948. 5. Power to exempt the provisions of the Act during public emergency. For the purposes of this section “public emergency” means a grave emergency whereby the security of India or of any part of the territory thereof is threatened, whether by war or external aggression or internal disturbance
Factories (Amendment) Bill,2014
The Factories Act is a legislation that deals with safety, health and welfare of workers. The present Factories Act is applicable on factories (with electricity connection) with 20 workers and factories, without electricity, with 10 workers.
The government had introduced Factories (Amendment) Bill 2014 in Lok Sabha in August 2014. However, it did not come up for discussion as it was referred to a standing committee which presented its report in December 2014.
Objective of amendments:
What are the amendments proposed?
Why Factories Act,1948 need to be amended?
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