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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Labour Ministry working on six bills for passage in Winter Session

NEW DELHI: Pushing to fast track reforms, the Labour Ministry plans to place as many as six bills before Parliament in the Winter Session starting next month. 

"A lot of work has been done on six legislations under the labour reform process. Ministry is keen to push all of them for passage in the Winter Session of Parliament next month," said a source. 

They include Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2012 and Payment of Bonus (Amendment) Bill, 2015, which have already been approved by the Cabinet, the source added. 

The ministry has also completed tripartite consultations on the Labour Code on Industrial Relations, 2015; Small Factories (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Services) Bill, 2014 and Labour Code on Wages. These are with Law Ministry for vetting, the source said. 

Once approved, these bills will be sent to the Cabinet for approval and then to Parliament for passage. 

The ministry will soon prepare a draft Cabinet proposal on an amendment bill for the Employees' Provident Fund & Miscellaneous Provisions Bill for inter-ministerial consultation. After that, it will be sent to the Law Ministry and subsequently to Union Cabinet for approval. Once the mandatory approvals are through, it will be placed before the Parliament for passage. 

Labour Minister  Bandaru Dattatreya had last month said: "Child Labour Amendment Bill, EPF Bill and Payment of Bonus Bill would come in Winter Session for passage." 

He had also said: "If time permits we will bring in Code on Wages and Code on industrial relations. Once again we will go for consultation (on these bills) and then go to Cabinet to proceed with these legislations." 

The Labour Code on Wages seeks to amalgamate and simplify provisions of four laws -- Minimum Wage Act 1948, Payment of Wages Act 1936, Payment of Bonus Act 1965 and Equal Remuneration Act 1976. 

Even as the Labour Ministry is working to push these bills, the central trade unions are not on board on the industrial code, small factories bill and EPF amendment bill. 

They have strongly opposed some of the amendments that include norms related to easing retrenchment, lay offs and closure of units provision and forming unions under the proposed New Industrial Relations Code. 

The bill allows companies employing up to 300 workers to lay off staff without seeking official sanction. At present, industries hiring up to 100 workers are allowed to lay off without permission. 

Besides, the unions are opposing small factories bill, which exempts units with less than 40 workers from 14 labour laws including ESI and EPF Acts. 

That means they can buy health  insurance and provident fund schemes for their workers from open market. They need not subscribe to EFPF and ESIC schemes as per the new law. 

Unions have also objected to the proposed EPF amendment bill which seeks to provide an option to formal sector workers to choose between Employees' Provident Fund Scheme and New  Pension Scheme (NPS). 

They are of the opinion that this will dilute social security net for formal sector workers in the country. They have also been demanding across the board Rs 15,000 per month minimum wages. 

As many as 10 trade unions, observed nationwide strike on September 2 against government's proposed amendments to labour laws through these bills which they termed as anti-worker and unilateral. 

The ministry wants to push these bill during this Winter Session to support government's initiatives to improve ease of doing business and 'Make in India' programme. 

Through these reforms, the government want to push foreign as well as domestic investments in the country for sustained economic recovery for Asia's third largest economy. 

The Labour Ministry is working on rationalising the provision of the 44 labour laws into 4-5 codes. At present the ministry is working on codes on wages, industrial relations, social security & welfare and safety & working conditions.
Source : The Economic Times

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