LS nod to Code on Wages Bill

Labour Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar (PTI Photo)

The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the Code on Wages Bill that will enable the introduction of the minimum wage for workers besides addressing issues like delay in payment to employees.

Union Labour Minister Santosh Gangawar said the bill sought to amend and consolidate four laws relating to wages and bonus and is expected to benefit 50 crore workers.

The opposition slammed the bill as “anti-working class” which was finalised without proper consultation with all the stakeholders, such as the trade unions.

“Even the trade union of the RSS – the Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh is strongly opposed to the bill and had participated in the nation-wide strike against it,” Kodikunnil Suresh, senior Congress leader and former junior minister for labour said initiating a debate on the bill.

The bill passed by voice vote subsumes four labour laws – Minimum Wages Act, Payment of Wages Act, Payment of Bonus Act and Equal Remuneration Act. After its enactment, all these four Acts would be repealed.

Gangwar said the government has accepted 17 out of the 24 recommendations made by the Standing Committee which had scrutinised a similar bill introduced in the previous Lok Sabha.

As per the bill, the tripartite committee comprising representatives of trade unions, employers and state government would fix a floor wage for workers throughout the country, Gangwar said, adding “minimum wage will become right of every worker.”

Labour reforms have been a key aspect of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's governance agenda since he came to power in 2014 and the government now wants to push it aggressively after receiving a resounding mandate in the recent general elections.

The government has plans to subsume 44 labour laws into four broad labour codes.

The Code on Wages universalises the provisions of minimum wages and timely payment of wages to all employees irrespective of the sector and wage ceiling.

At present, the provisions of both the Minimum Wages Act and Payment of Wages Act apply on workers below a particular wage ceiling working in Scheduled Employments only.

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