Parliament passes labour Bills amid boycott

Changes necessary for welfare of workers and promotion of industries: Gangwar

Updated - October 01, 2020 03:49 pm IST

Published - September 23, 2020 02:11 pm IST - New Delhi

The Lok Sabha in session on September 22, 2020. Photo: LSTV via PTI

The Lok Sabha in session on September 22, 2020. Photo: LSTV via PTI

Parliament on Wednesday passed three Bills that complete the government’s codification of 29 labour laws into four codes, with the Rajya Sabha passing the Industrial Relations Code, 2020, the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020 and the Social Security Code, 2020.

The Upper House passed the three Bills after less than two hours of discussion, while the Opposition continued its boycott that started on Tuesday over the passage of two agriculture Bills.

 

The three Bills that merge 25 laws were passed by the Lok Sabha on Tuesday. The first of the four codes proposed by the government, the Code on Wages, was passed by Parliament in 2019.

Speaking in the Rajya Sabha, Labour and Employment Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar said the passage of the Bills would balance the needs of workers, industry and other stakeholders. Referring to the empty Opposition benches, Mr. Gangwar said it wasn’t a new thing that the Congress was absent, adding that the party had not worried about workers in the past.

Strike notice

Responding to concern that the Industrial Relations Code had imposed a 14-day notice period for strikes, Mr. Gangwar said: “The government has not taken away the workers’ right to strike.” He added that the notice period gave the two parties a chance to resolve the dispute.

He said the changes in the labour laws were needed for the welfare of workers and promotion of industries. He said for the first time, 50 crore workers of the organised and unorganised sectors as well as the self-employed were covered under minimum wage and social security laws. Platform and gig workers were covered under the Social Security Code as well, giving the government the power to formulate social security schemes for them.

The IR Code will allow companies with under 300 workers to decide on termination and other service conditions of employees without prior approval, as opposed to companies with less than 100 employees as of now.

The Social Security Code will extend the scope of the Employees State Insurance Corporation to all 740 districts in the country and that of the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation to all institutions with 20 or more workers as well the self-employed. A National Occupational Safety and Health Board under the OSH Code and a Social Security Fund under the Social Security Code will be set up.

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