ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Fault Lines in the Legal Framework of Industrial Relations

Central labour laws in India have grown obsolete, and recently proposed labour codes do not address these issues adequately. The issues that deserve urgent attention regardless of the proposed labour codes are highlighted.

Labour laws are a mainstay for congenial industrial relations. There are about 40 central labour laws in India, of which some even predate the Constitution.1 These laws have grown obsolete over time; in practice, they have to be read more in the context of case laws than as the text of enactments. They are also fragmented, with different enactments dealing with various aspects of the same subject.

There have been proposals to consolidate and update these laws by devising an omnibus piece of legislation. The first such attempt was the Industrial Relations Bill, 1978, which was stillborn. Decades later, another attempt was made—the Labour Code on Industrial Relations Bill, 2015. It sought to replace existing laws on industrial disputes, trade unions, and industrial employment standing orders. Immediately after the bill was mooted, trade unions across political lines expressed vehement objections to its provisions (Economic Times 2015). Since then, there has been no perceptible progress, even though proposals for three other such codes have also been floated, covering issues relating to wages, social security, and safety.2

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Updated On : 27th Dec, 2017
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