Labour Ministry Assures Updated Laws in Six Months
Half a dozen Bills to go to Cabinet before the winter session of Parliament
The Bandaru Dattatreyaled labour ministry has set itself strict deadlines, spanning over the next six months, to bring about legislative and procedural changes to decades-old labour laws, despite stiff opposition from trade unions.
According to the plan, which indicates the government's commitment towards labour reforms, at least half a dozen Bills will go to the Cabinet for approval before winter session of Parliament. The deadlines were communicated to the Prime Minister's Office at a recent meeting. The PMO is expected to follow up if there is any delay, a first of its kind exercise in the history of the labour ministry .
A senior government official told ET that the government is keen to hasten the reforms process, more so after Prime Minister Narendra Modi met at least 40 industrialists at a hurriedly convened review meeting last week and reiterated his commitment of creating an enabling environment, labour reforms being the key to attract investments into the country .
“Labour reforms is an ongoing proc ess. The ministry plans to push as many amendments as possible in the winter session while continue working on other sets of laws required to be amended so that we have a series of amendments in the pipeline,“ the official said on condition of anonymity .
As per the roadmap laid out by the ministry for itself, the first few proposals that are lined up for Cabinet's approval, starting from this month, include the Small Factories Bill, as well as amendments to the Minimum Wages Bill, Bonus Act, EPF & MP Act and the ESIC Act.
“The ministry also plans to move the labour code on wages to the Cabinet next month, followed by the labour code on industrial relations and social security in November and February, respectively, so that we move on to the path of consolidating 44 labour laws into four codes so as to simplify labour laws,“ the official said.
This is for the first time that the labour ministry has laid out a shortterm and well defined path for itself for revisiting all important labour laws. The move is likely to cheer up corporates who are closely watching the developments in the sector before they make investments.
Top labour ministry officials, led by Secretary Shankar Agarwal, met PM's Principal Secretary Nripendra Misra on Friday, and NITI Aayog Vicechairman Arvind Panagariya and his team on Saturday to apprise them of the reforms initiated. Sources told ET that the two top offices, headed by the PM himself, asked the labour ministry to hasten the reform process.
The push to the initiatives of the labour ministry from all corners of the government is likely to further agitate central TUs, which had already observed a one-day nationwide strike earlier this month opposing the “unilateral and pro-corporate“ approach of the BJP-led NDA government.
The Economic Times, New Delhi, 15th Sept. 2015