Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday said there was a need for a “critical” study of the existing regulatory framework to find out whether they were coming in the way of development and growth of employment and industry without really contributing to labour welfare.

“Though our government remains committed to protecting the interests of our workers, we must periodically take a critical look whether our regulatory framework has some parts which unnecessarily hamper the growth of employment, enterprise and industry without really contributing significantly to labour welfare,” he said.

Dr. Singh said the government was for the well-being of all workers and was looking at making such provisions which would see part-time work have the same characteristics as in full-time employment.

“If this requires legislative changes, we should be prepared to do so and begin working on a blueprint for making this a reality,” he said at the 44th Indian Labour Conference.

The Prime Minister felt state governments in recent years were showing far more flexibility in their approach to labour restructuring and rationalisation than in the past when view expressed was that Indian labour policies unduly protect interests of the employed labour and act against the expansion of employment.

Noting the government was “fully” committed to strengthening labour laws and ensuring their compliance, he said they were in the process of amending the Factories Act, 1948.

Stating that his ambition was to achieve a nine per cent growth rate, Dr. Singh said this can only be achieved when the employers’ and workers’ representatives join hands together.

“I would like to emphasise that our government stands committed to creating an economic management which will create new job opportunities. But job opportunities can come only if the economy is expanding and expanding fast enough,” the Prime Minister said.

He also batted for increased participation of the women in the labour force, observing that “women are one of the most under—utilised resources in our country.“

“Female labour force participation rates are extremely low in our country and have remained more or less constant over the past decades. In order to bring more women into the work force, it is necessary to understand the constraints that they face in balancing their family and work responsibilities,” he said.

Admitting that the present systems to ensure welfare and well-being of migrant workers were “weak”, he said the need of the hour was to strengthen the systems.

“We must all pool our knowledge, wisdom and experience to ensure that this, in fact, happens. In this context, perhaps the Aadhar numbers can become a significant device in ensuring portability of the rights of migrant labour,” he said.

Talking about the initiatives which have yielded positive development in the social sectors, he said India Human Development Report of 2011 stated the proportion of child workers between 6 to 14 year has fallen from 6.2 per cent in 1994 to 2 per cent in 2010.

He said the Right to Education Act “will further contribute towards eliminating the curse of child labour“.

The MNREGA scheme, he said, has helped in checking distress migration “substantially” from the villages and brought about an improvement in the wages of rural workers.

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