Govt’s pending agenda on labour reforms set to get a fresh impetus
The panel’s chairman, BJD lawmaker Bhartruhari Mahtab said, “The implementation of the pending Labour Codes is taking time. We don’t know what is the status of implementation in each state. We have called the ministry representatives to appraise us of the status of the codes.”
The Union government’s long-pending agenda on labour reforms is set to receive a fresh push with the home ministry asking all Union Territories barring Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh to formulate rules on two Labour Codes including the contentious Industrial Relations Code that curbs the influence of trade unions.
The parliamentary committee on labour will meet on Friday to understand from the ministry of labour and employment, the status of the implementation of the Labour Codes. The panel’s chairman, BJD lawmaker Bhartruhari Mahtab said, “The implementation of the pending Labour Codes is taking time. We don’t know what is the status of implementation in each state. We have called the ministry representatives to appraise us of the status of the codes.”
The Centre needs the states to notify the rules on the codes since labour is a concurrent subject in the Constitution. India’s Parliament approved the Wages Code in August 2019, and the Code on Industrial Relations, Code on Social Security, and the Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions in September 2020.
On Tuesday, the Union home ministry issued notification for the seven UTs. “In pursuance of clause (1) of article 239 of the Constitution, the President hereby directs that the administrator or Lieutenant Governor of the National Capital Territory of Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, Chandigarh, Puducherry and Lakshadweep shall, subject to the control of the President and until further order, exercise the powers and discharge the functions of the appropriate Government or State Government under the Industrial Relations Code, 2020 (35 of 2020), to formulate the rules only in the areas where the Union territory of the National Capital Territory of Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, Chandigarh, Puducherry and Lakshadweep are required to formulate rules either as appropriate Government or State Government,” the gazette notification said.
Article 239 had often been referred during the tussle for administrative power between the Delhi LG and the AAP government.
The home ministry notification assumes importance as no state has implemented all four labour codes amid protests by trade unions and other lobbies. Mahtab said that in Odisha, where the BJD is in power, three codes have been implemented and talks are on with the labour unions for the remaining one. On the other hand, West Bengal and Nagaland habe not notified the rules for any. .
Out of the 36 states and UTs, 31 have issued draft rules for the Wages Code that allows a state to fix minimum wages for different types of work. The Industrial Relations Code, which allows only one union in an establishment (the law is applicable in establishments with more than 100 workers) has been notified in 28 states and UTs. And 26 states and UTs have notified rules for the Occupational Safety Health and Working Conditions Code.
The labour codes are among the most ambitious reforms agenda of the NDA government. The government sees them as ways to further increase the attractiveness of India as an investment destination. They are also among the three most significant second-generation reforms. Two of these, on agriculture and land acquisition, have remained non-starters after the Centre was forced to withdraw related bills.
In December, Union labour minister Bhupendra Yadav told PTI : “India has a federal structure. Labour is a concurrent subject. We have already pre-published draft rules on the four labour codes. The states are in the process of completing this exercise. We are pursuing them to complete the exercise. I hope that the codes are implemented at the appropriate time.”