Center For Workers Education

for building a democratic labour movement in India

Response to the Proposed Amendments in Labour Laws

Surendra Pratap, Centre for Workers Education We welcome the willingness and initiative of the government towards reforming the labour laws. However, we strongly oppose the piecemeal reforms in this and that section of this and that labour laws and we demand an integrated approach in labour reforms, because various provisions in various labour laws are linked to each other. We also strongly oppose attempts of labour reforms with a motive to downgrade the labour standards and reduce the collective bargaining power of labour. In the name of increasing competitiveness to attract investments and need for flexibility demanded by the employers, the rights and lives of workers cannot be sacrificed. It is to be discussed and debated what kind of flexibilities are needed and why, and the justified needs can be accordingly incorporated in the labour laws. But the piece meal amendments in labour laws may never be able to address the issues comprehensively, only an integrated approach for labour reforms can address these issues effectively and in sustainable way. Most of the south Asian countries inherited labour law system of the colonial period, with serious problems in terms of multiplicity of labour laws with serious inconsistencies. However, in later periods, many countries including Bangladesh and Pakistan attempted to integrate the labour laws, make it more uniform and remove the inconsistencies. Labour law in SriLanka is more integrated and more uniform than in any country in south asia. The proposed labour laws in Nepal are also directed to come out with better integrated and uniform labour codes. In India the labour movement raised this issue many times, but no serious attempts were made by the government in this direction. Every new law and every new amendment increased the complexities further, rather than resolving it. Therefore we propose to drop the initiative of piecemeal reforms in the labour laws and suggest the government to come out with proposals for labour reforms with integrated perspective directed to integrate the labour laws, bring out uniformity in provisions of various labour codes and minimize the multiplicity in labour laws. We also suggest the government to invite proposals/suggestions from various stakeholders for the integrated labour reforms, and organize consultations at various levels to bring out some sort of consensus. The integrated approach may also consider the new situations that have emerged in terms of increasing vulnerabilities for labour, and the employers need for increased flexibility. Comprehensive studies need to be conducted to asses these factors and accordingly addressed in the integrated labour reforms. The proposed amendments in four labour laws as discussed below show very little if any concern for upgrading labour standards and are mainly targeted to address the employers’ demands. Therefore they may have an overall negative impact in terms of downgrading the labour standards. On some of these proposed amendments in four labour laws, briefly our comments and suggestions are listed below against the major amendments proposed. Read full text here: Responses to the Governments Initiative to Amend Labour Laws

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