NATIONAL

Lok Sabha clears 3 labour Bills

Hard at work:A file photo of workers at a construction site for a flyover in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.B. Velankanni RajB. Velankanni Raj  

The Lok Sabha on Tuesday cleared three labour Bills amalgamating laws on social security, occupational safety and industrial relations which would usher in changes including allowing companies with less than 300 workers to hire and fire without prior approval and provide gig and platform workers social security.

The Industrial Relations Code, 2020; the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020; and the Code of Social Security, 2020, were passed by voice vote after a debate in the Lok Sabha, and in the absence of the Opposition, who staged a walkout. Minister for Labour and Employment Santosh Gangwar termed the Bills “historic” and ones that would usher in long required reform in industry and labour. Referring to the Social Security Code Bill, the Minister said, “After 70 years of Independence, 50 crore workers, including the unorganised sector, will be brought into some kind of social security net.”

Among the 13 Acts subsumed under the Occupational Safety Code, 2020, is the Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation and Employment and Conditions of Service) Act of 1979, which came under the spotlight during the COVID-19 lockdown when many migrant workers found themselves without any recourse to wages or services from employers. The new Bill covers contract and directly hired inter-State workers.

Inter-State migrants

On the issue of inter-State migrants, BJP MPs, Manoj Tiwari and Nishikant Dubey said the nomenclature for referring to them as “migrant labour” be changed and the labour be respected. “Industry requires capital, labour and market. If capital from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are not referred as ‘migrant capital’ then why refer as such to the labour?” asked Mr. Dubey.

In the absence of the Opposition, amendments proposed by these members was not taken up and the Bills were passed. These will be tabled in the Rajya Sabha next Monday.