Parliament clears labour reforms bill

Parliament clears labour reforms bill

Parliament on Friday set the ball rolling for labour sector reforms by passing a Bill that seeks to exempt lakhs of small establishment from furnishing returns and maintaining registers.

The changes were in tune with the Modi government’s efforts to amend the archaic labour laws to boost India’s ranking in the ease of doing business index and boost the manufacturing sector to help create jobs.

The Lok Sabha passed the Labour Laws (Exemption from Furnishing Returns and Maintaining Registers by Certain Establishments) Amendment Bill, 2011, after rejecting amendments moved by Saugata Roy of the Trinamool Congress (TMC).
The bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

Besides the TMC, the bill was opposed by the Congress, the Communist Party of India-Marxist and the Biju Janata Dal, who said lakhs of workers would lose protection under the labour laws.

The bill widens the scope of the original 1988 Act by ensuring exemption for small establishments from provisions of the existing 19 labour related laws, instead of nine at present.

The bill also expands the ambit of the Act to more establishments and simplifies forms for various returns to be filed and the register to be maintained by employers under different labour laws.

Minister for Labour and Employment Bandaru Dattatreya assured the House that the government was committed to protecting the interests of unorganised workers.
Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said inspectors were in all departments and it would be wrong to single out labour officials.

Hukum Singh of the BJP said the new law will help end the “inspector raj” which has resulted in “closure” of a large number of small scale workshops across the country.
“The government should bring more amendments to make laws more friendly for employment. We need facilitators not regulators,” Singh said.

The Modi government is also actively considering amendments to the Child Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act 1986, Factories Act 1948, Mines Act 1952, Minimum Wages Act 1948 and the Apprenticeship Act 1961.

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