The implementation of labour laws was to hit the ground in 2020 after a hasty passage of the law reforms. The ‘big reforms’ were an urgent necessity. But the implementation has been delayed time and again, citing various reasons. Why and what are the reasons?
In 2020 the parliament passed three labour codes and one in 2019. The labour ministry had set the date to implement these laws from April 2021; however, it was postponed for various reasons.
These labour codes were passed without any discussions, debates or following the due process. Now that the labour codes passed, it is unlikely to be implemented in the fiscal year 2021 – 2022.
The reasons to avoid the implementation of labour codes:
- To avoid a legal void. After looking at the resistance, all four codes have faced in 2019 and 2020. The government wants to clean the wrinkles and hold off to avoid any legal struggles.
- The states were not ready with rules in their domain. The states are delaying the implementation as they are not involved in the decision-making process. The opposition is striking with major points as these laws were passed only by the ruling party.
- State drafting the laws with little progress. The states are going through a slow process to prepare rules for their domain for the assembly elections coming up.
- Political reasons like Uttarakhand elections – according to a report of a media publication. The labour laws are more likely to affect the states of Bihar and Uttarakhand as these were the primary states to oppose these labour laws, and implementing it now might end up firing back on the election polls.
Resistance to implementing these codes
The ten central trade unions, including AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, INTUC, AICCTU, LPF, and the UTUC, have constantly resisted the labour laws.
They organized a nationwide general strike in 2019, and in 2020 they jointly wrote to the director-general of the International Labour Organisation to address the problems of labourers after the government’s dilution and suspension of labour laws.
If there is so much resistance, the government should take this time to straighten the trade unions’ wrinkles and gain the stakeholders’ trust.
The new labour codes were announced as ‘big reforms’ and categorized as the need of the hour.
If that justifies the hasty passage of the laws, then any situation should not result in the postponement of the codes.
The union ministry of labour has set the rules of the four new labour codes. They have consolidated 29 central labour law codes; no primary industrial state is ready with the rules applicable in their domain.
The most alarming points of concern
In the Industrial relations code, there is a condition to carry out a legal strike. The person employed in any industrial establishment has to give 60 days prior notice to go on a strike and during the pendency of the proceedings by the National industrial tribunal and 60 days after the conclusion of the proceedings.
It elongates the legally permissible period for the workers to strike, curbing the right to strike.
Implementing these laws assumes significance because once they are implemented, there would be a reduction in employees’ take-home pay, and firms have to bear higher provident fund liability.
The companies that employ up to 300 workers do not require approval for hire and fire; they can also extend the working hours upto 12 hours. The service conditions and job security, social security, trade unionism, safety and health of the workers are at a greater risk.
These reforms show that the government is keen on giving more rights and flexibility to the employers than making conditions easy for the employees.