Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh relaxed legal provisions of labour laws in an attempt to attract more investment and boost economic activity. Several states are expected to follow their example.
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What has Madhya Pradesh done?
- The state has amended several labour laws in an attempt to boost economic activity.
- Factories Act amended: In accordance with the section 5 of the act, which provides for a 3 months exemption from its provisions in case of ‘public emergency’. Here, public emergency has been loosely defined as threat to security due to war/ external aggression. This will allow:
- Extension of working hours to 12 hours (from the present 8 hours).
- Extend weekly duty to 72 hours.
- Exemption from inspection of factories for 3 months.
- 3rd party inspection of factories, etc.
What has Uttar Pradesh done?
- UP government has approved an ordinance to suspend many of its labour laws for 3 years.
- However, the suspension does not apply to several laws:
- Abolition of child labour
- Abolition of bonded labour
- Laws concerning women employees
- Laws concerning construction workers
- Laws concerning payment of wages
- Laws concerning compensation to workmen for accidents while on duty.
What is the centre’s position with regards to labour?
- Changes in how such labour laws operate require centre’s assent.
- The central government has been pursuing an agenda of labour reform by consolidation of the various labour laws in India into 4 codes:
- Code on wages
- Code on industrial relations
- Code on occupational safety, health and working conditions
- Code on social security
- However, the centre has been unable to protect the most vulnerable sections and the labour class from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lock down conditions.
- The centre’s focus, in the initial phase, has been on dealing with the health crisis.
What are the pros?
- Relaxed regulations will help attract more investments into the states.
- Enable revival of economy after the lock down’s relaxation.
- Will boost employment rates.
What are the cons?
- Granting exemption from legal provisions meant for safeguarding labourers is perverse and amoral.
- Might relieve industries of elementary duties like provision of drinking water, first aid boxes, protective equipment, etc.
- The move may suspend requirements like restrooms, cleanliness, lighting, ventilation, canteens and crèches.
Source: The Hindu