“ Human being Should not be Used as a tool to make money rather money should be used to improve conditions of Human being “
In 2019 , The ministry of labour and employment introduced four bills on labour codes to consolidate 29 central laws. These codes will regulate :-
2) Social Security
3) Industrial wage
4) Occupational Safety, Health and working conditions
The government is claiming that these codes will lead a win -win situation for all stakeholders. Then why are these codes facing a lot of backlash? Even Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh which is affiliated to BJP is opposing the bill.
Some key issues in the bill :-
- Through the Industrial Relation Code ( IRC) a trade union could be deregistered. Even if it is not an internal issue. This has grave consequences on workers’ right to challenge exploitative employers. It will create fear among Unions and infringe them in their direction.
- These codes mark the end of Factories act of 1947 . This act had regulated the working conditions, safety, minimum wage, working hours and overtime provision, etc. Now working hours are increased from 8 to 12 hours without a surge in wages. Albeit the government had said to fix the lower floor of wage but the criteria depend on geography, task convoluted and other factors. So it is hard to determine the lower floor. By the way gov. Had fixed it at Rs202 / day which is far less than recommended by the standing Committee which is Rs374.
3 . In 2016 , 2.1 crores workers have their name in ESI ( now number surged to 10 crores) . During that the number of doctors per lakh patients was 6 ( the standard number of doctors is 100) . So this area needs lots of attention and funds to improve the health facility by improving infrastructure. But government had cut the ESI rate from 6.5℅ to 4℅ . By the way only 20℅ workforce are affiliated to ESI.
Things are precarious in the formal sector, so what can we expect from an unorganised sector( contract labour) ?
Lesson should be learn from Singapore and China :-
China : we are picking increasing working day hours from china. But in China whether it is local government or central government their main focus is on economic growth, employment generation and reducing production cost for competitive edge.
Are we ready to do the same? Or continue the politics of blaming others for failures.
Singapore : Father of modern day Singapore “ Lee kuan Yew “ , who focuses more on per capita income to get a better idea of development. His main focus was on living standards of workers and improving their skills. Today the result is in front of our eyes.
Conclusion : Passing exploitative Codes for workers to attract FDI is not a pragmatic approach and it is myopic decision. The incident at Narasapura ( wistron Incident, where a worker damaged the Rs 50 crores property) would become common if the same is continued.
In India labour reform( alone) is always seen as a game changer for economic growth. This fallacy should be obviated and divert the focus on infrastructure and lessons taught by other countries.
Indeed reform is required but it should be done by taking consultation from all stakeholders ( Trade unions) . It is a prudent way to do this.
At last these codes could improve our ranking in ease of doing business but not in the way of doing business.