Contempt for Labour- diluting labour laws

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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?

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

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