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Thursday, Nov 21, 2019

Modi govt’s key labour reform bill may get delayed

The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2019 bill is aimed to replace 13 existing laws that relates to a wide range of labour activities including factories, plantations, motor vehicles, bidi, cinema and port.

india Updated: Oct 18, 2019 09:28 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji
Saubhadra Chatterji
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The Biju Janata Dal’s MP Bhartruhari Mahtab, the chairman of the panel, said that its first meeting on the bill will be held on October 25.
The Biju Janata Dal’s MP Bhartruhari Mahtab, the chairman of the panel, said that its first meeting on the bill will be held on October 25.(PTI image)
         

The bill to create health and safety network for workers in India might have to wait longer for its passage after a House panel said it would require more time to review it even as the labour ministry is keen to clear the bill in the upcoming winter session of Parliament.

The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2019, introduced in the Lok Sabha by labour minister Santosh Gangwar in July this year, is under the scrutiny of the parliamentary standing committee of labour.

The Biju Janata Dal’s MP Bhartruhari Mahtab, the chairman of the panel, said that its first meeting on the bill will be held on October 25.

“We will soon give advertisements and invite all stakeholders for their views. Our first meeting is scheduled to be with the Union labour ministry,” Mahtab said.

“The Lok Sabha Speaker has given us three months to complete our review. We will try to wrap it up ahead of the schedule but given the number of stakeholders involved and the complexity of the subject, we may not be able to finish it during the winter session of Parliament,” he added.

The next session of Parliament is likely to start from the middle of November and end before the Christmas holidays.

The four codes on the labour sector are widely viewed as the next generation reforms in the labour market that has been mired in complex and archaic laws. These codes—on wages, health, industrial relations and social security—aim to simply the legal tangles and subsume 44 labour-related laws.

The Wage Code bill has already been passed in the last session of Parliament.

The OSH bill is aimed at replacing 13 existing laws that relates to a wide range of labour activities including factories, plantations, motor vehicles, bidi, cinema and port.

Mahtab also added that the panel may also undertake field visits at one or two places to get a first-hand view of the issues faced by workers.

Government sources, however, said that labour minister Gangwar wants an early passage of the bill and, if possible, in the upcoming session.

“During our informal interactions with the ministry, we have noticed their eagerness for early clearance of the bill,” said another member of the panel.

The labour reforms, first envisaged during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) era, had been taking a long time for implementation. The UPA couldn’t push the bills due to lack of political consensus within its coalition.

The first five years of the Narendra Modi government (2014-2019) also saw little movement as the ruling side didn’t enjoy a majority in the Rajya Sabha.

But in its second innings in power, the National Democratic Alliance has swiftly moved to gain an upper hand in the Upper House over the Opposition. At least seven Opposition MPs switched side while the NDA won some biennial elections.

It also got steady support from friendly parties such as the AIADMK, BJD and YSRCP. As a result, the NDA could clear the Triple Talaq bill, scrap Article 370 and bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir into two Union territories.