The NDA government’s plan to push through crucial labour reforms legislations in the budget session of Parliament is likely to hit a roadblock with daggers drawn between the ruling alliance and opposition parties over the suicide of a Dalit scholar.
With the ambitious land reforms and GST bills also struck in Parliament due to continued stonewalling by the Congress-led opposition, the fresh crisis could seriously dent the NDA government’s efforts to cut red tape and introduce more industry-friendly rules for ease of doing business.
Union labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya is at the centre of the storm with opposition parties demanding his sacking for his alleged interference in the University of Hyderabad affairs, which they say drove Rohith Vemalu to suicide.
Some of the proposed legislations the BJP is hopeful of passing in the budget session include the small factories bill, code on industrial relations and child labour (prohibition and regulation) amendment bill, 2012.
While the small factories bill proposes to keep units employing less than 40 workers out of the purview of 14 labour laws, including the Employees Provident Fund Act, the Employees State Insurance Act and the Industrial Dispute Act, the code on industrial relations will make it easier for companies to sack up to 300 employees without the government’s permission.
The child labour bill, on the other hand, proposes that children below fourteen years may only be allowed to work in enterprises owned by their own families.
These initiatives are, however, unlikely to see light of the day in the budget session in the face of opposition fire.
Congress leaders have already said that the party will not let up the pressure until Dattatreya is sacked over the suicide by the 26-year-old research scholar.
With the government mounting a fierce defence of Dattatreya, it was unlikely that the axe will fall on Dattatreya on this issue.
And this stalemate could prove fatal for the government’s ambitious Make in India programme, the foundations of which is expected to be built on the successful passage of the labour reforms bills.
The small factories bill aims to free the small scale manufacturing sector from the cumbersome provisions of different labour laws, seen as major step towards easing the way of doing business.
It will also obviate the need for small units to keep cumbersome records and submit to the regulators by allowing for online registration.
Similarly, the code on industrial relations, which seeks to combine three laws into a single code, will enable companies to fire its staff without any official sanction if their staff strength is up to 300 and will also make it slightly tougher to form workers’ unions.