Centre at oppn mercy to pass two amended bills on labour laws

Centre at oppn mercy to pass two amended bills on labour laws

The government’s aim to get a clear passage for amendments to labour laws in the winter session of Parliament may not be easy as the NDA lacks required strength in the Rajya Sabha.

There is every possibility that the Congress, which has been an architect of these reforms, will obstruct it to embarrass the BJP. The Left, Samajwadi Party, and Janata Dal (United) will oppose the amendments with all their energy.

Besides the two pending labour bills — the Factories Bill and Apprenticeship Act — the government wants to introduce some new bills and get them passed. The Small Factories Act is the most important of them.

Amendments to Factories Act have been passed by the Lok Sabha and are pending in the Rajya Sabha. The amended law exempts those factories which have less than 20 workers with power supply and 40 workers without power. Trade unions are alleging that the change will deprive about 70 per cent of workers of statutory benefits because of exemption from compliance with Factories Act. 

The changes in Factories Act permit deployment of women in night shifts but with the arrangement to ensure their complete safety and security.
Other changes include raising the limit of overtime hours from 50 hours a quarter to 100 hours in some cases and from 75 hours to 125 hours in other works of public interest. 

Amendments in the Factories Act also has such provisions that provide facility of availing leave with pay after completing 90 days in job, instead of current provision of 240 days.

The Apprentice Act, which has been introduced in the Lok Sabha, also contains major changes like freedom from obligation of regularising 50 per cent of the apprentices. Minimum wage of an unskilled worker would be the stipend and no employer will be punished for non-compliance. 

The draft of the amended Small Factories Bill is ready for Cabinet nod and likely to be introduced in the winter session. The small Factories (Regulation of Employment and Condition of Services) Bill, 2014 defines a small factory “as any premise wherein a manufacturing process is carried on and which employs less than 40 workers.” The draft seeks to exempt employers from complying with 14 labour Acts. But non-compliance invites no punishment.

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