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

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Are Labour Law Reforms for the Labour?

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The government has made a strong claim that the recently passed Industrial Relations Code, 2020, Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020 and the Code on Social Security, 2020 are pro-worker and will provide statutory protection to unorganised workers. The objective of these new labour codes is to ensure social security, non-hazardous work conditions and to provide minimum wages.

However, these codes show anti-labour reforms. According to Section 77(1) of the Industrial Relation Code, 2020, the lay-off, retrenchment and closure in certain establishments shall apply to an industrial establishment in which not less than 300 workers, or such higher number of workers as may be notified by the appropriate government, were employed on an average per working day in the preceding 12 months. The code effectively creates a legal regime where strikes are impossible and workers will no longer be free to organise or even participate in peaceful strikes. They will be penalised for doing so and the penalties collected will be used to maintain the social security fund. Several small firms, which hire nearly 90% of India’s workforce, now claim complete impunity in hiring and firing employees. Gig workers have not been identified as unorganised workers, and this category is the most vulnerable.

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