The Centre has expressed that it is keen on going ahead with the four labour codes (passed in Parliment last year) in the next few months. The labour ministry had envisaged that the codes on wages, social security, occupational safety, would be implemented from April 21st, 2021 onwards.
States Yet to Notify Rules
The ministry even finalised the rules under the four labour codes, however states were not in a position to implement the same, as they were unable to notify the rules under the codes in their jurisdiction. It is under the constitution, that for labour laws, both Centre and the states must notify rules for implementation of the the concerned policy in their jurisdiction, before implementation.
Many states are in the process of finalising the rules under the codes. However the Centre doesn’t plan to wait for long, and is planning on implementing the codes sometime in the next few months. States such as Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana,Odisha, Punjab, Gujarat, and Karnataka have already circulated the draft rules for implementation. The labour codes, among other changes, plan to reduce take-home wages, by increasing the provident fund liability of companies.
Under the wages code, allowances will be capped at 50% of the total pay. This means take home wages will be only 50%. The PF will be fixed at 50% of the gross pay including basic pay and dearness allowance, resulting in reduced take home wages of employees.
Anti-Worker Laws and Increasing Control of Private Companies:
The labour codes have been widely criticised by trade unions and workers organisations for increasing control over workers, and further legitamising their explotation by private companies. Subhas Lomte, General Secretary of Maharashtra Rajya Hamal Mapdi Mahamandal, in light of the the Centre’s decision to continue with the implementation, stated:
“While bringing in labour reforms, no discussions were held with labour unions. The codes were drafted unilaterally to preserve the interests of the capitalists. The management has been given enormous rights to control the labourers. The workers have to give notices for initiating strikes for their rights. Strikes are not initiated all of a sudden but after prolonged discussions and correspondence with the management. Presently working hours are 8 and the owner has to work extra if workers work beyond 8 hours, but this right of the workers is being taken away.”
The Industrial Relation code also gives an immense amount of unchecked power to firms, allowing for lay offs, retrenchment and closure of employees without government permission, now for firms with up to 300 employees. Presently firms with only up to 100 employees are exempt from govt. approval for the above actions.
Last year, both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha passed the four codes, when the opposition was not in House. Protests against the codes have been ongoing since they were passed in Parliament last year, with many trade unions joining the ongoing farmers protest, expanding demands to those of the farmers agitation. Protests against the laws, have seen copies of the four labour codes being burned by protesters. During a protest that took place in Gurugram, the trade unions in a collective statement said:
“While deploring the arrogant and negative attitude of the Modi government for not responding to the demand of trade unions of revisiting the codes, it was decided that April 1 would be observed as the nationwide day for burning/tearing up the four labour codes.”