Himachal Pradesh considering amendment to archaic labour laws

  • Saurabh Chauhan, Hindustan Times, Shimla
  • Updated: Apr 12, 2015 18:34 IST

Acting promptly to 'improve' labour-industry relation, department of industries has prepared a note to amend labour laws that were made during the British era, as chief minister Virbhadra Singh had assured in his budget speech on March 18.

The proposed amendments would be made to the Factories Act, 1948, Contract labour Act 1970, Three British time laws- Industrial disputes act, 1947, Trade unions Act, 1926 and Industrial Employment (Standing Order) Act, 1946.

The labour department has prepared a cabinet note regarding amendment in labour laws, and after the cabinet's nod an amendment bill would be introduced in Vidhan Sabha.

After being passed, the bill would be sent to the President for approval.

In his budget speech for financial year 2015-16, the chief minister said the amendment was proposed for a few labour laws which are archaic and not in the interest of either the employer or the employees.

A labour department official said a few laws had been framed during British rule and other soon after that. "That time the situation was different and several changes need to be made in those laws, keeping the industrial development and labour welfare in mind," he said, while requesting anonymity.

Sources with the labour department said the Industrial dispute act would be amended to introduce the time limit for referring the cases to labour court. However, section 10 ruled to refer the matter to labour court if not solved after reconciliation, but there was no time limit.

"There are cases, which were referred to labour court even after 20 years," an official said. He also said the department is proposing to set a time limit of six years.

Further, while amending the factories act, safety, health and residential facility would be in focus.

However, amendment in Trade Union Act, 1926, could draw flak from trade unions as the department is likely to increase the percentage of registered labourers. Thus far, on registration of 10% of total labour, a union could be formed, but the department is likely to increase it to 30%.

The standing order would be amended to empower the labour inspector. Labour is subject of concurrent list or seventh schedule under the constitutional provisions and individual states can amend labour laws as per their own convenience.

After the amendment passed in the Vidhan Sabha, the centre would forward it to the President for his assent and states are free to implement the amended laws thereafter.

Other states like Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have also amended such laws.

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