Rajya Sabha passes Labour Codes amid opposition's boycott
New Delhi/IBNS: Three of the four Labour Codes that comprise the reforms to the existing laws were passed on Wednesday in Rajya Sabha even as opposition protested from outside the House.
The opposition, which boycotted both houses since yesterday, had written to Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu, demanding that the new labour laws be not passed "unilaterally".
The opposition created ruckus after the Deputy Chairman of the upper house did not allow physical voting for the Farm Bills on Sunday. Eight opposition Rajya Sabha MPs were earlier suspended for their "unruly behaviour" while protesting against the passing of two key farm bills by the government in Parliament's upper house a day ago.
"It will be a blot on democracy," wrote the opposition.
The eight MPs, who have been suspended by Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu for a week, were Trinamool Congress (TMC)'s Derek O'Brien and Dola Sen, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)'s Sanjay Singh, Congress' Rajeev Satav, Syed Nasir Hussain and Ripun Borah and CPI-M's KK Ragesh and Elamaram Kareem.
Minister of State (independent charge) for Labour and Employment Santosh Gangwar on Wednesday tabled three Labour Bills for discussion in the Rajya Sabha.
Moving the Industrial Relations Code, 2020, The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020 and The Code of Social Security, 2020, the Minister said Gangwar said the three codes are a part of the government's codification of 29 labour laws into four codes.
The Minister said in 2003-04, the Parliamentary Committee had recommended to includeto include the labour laws in four codes. In 2014, the work to condense labour laws into four codes was taken up again and were referred to the Parliamentary Committees. He said 74 per cent of the recommendations of the committee had been included in these Bills.
The Bills, he said, "will provide social security to 50 crore workers for the first time after Independence".
Initiating the discussion, Vivek Thakur, BJP, said workers were the backbone of the country and the new codes would ensure that the country becomes truly self-reliant.
"This is a step towards 'One code, one nation or one country, one license'. The codes have the potential of making a huge social impact," he said.
The codes would ensure labour trust, propel productivity and economic growth. The laws would unify, remove ambiguities, ensure speedy disposal of cases besides facilitate ease of doing business.
He said it was essential in restructuring society in post-Covid times.
However, the opposition and labour unions claim that the bills make it easier to cut jobs and curtail the workers’ rights to protest. The Industrial Relations Code Bill allows companies with up to 300 workers to handover pink slips to employees without seeking state government's prior approval. Till now, only companies with 100 employees could do this.
After the Bills become, laws the industrial workers will have to give a 60-day-notice before going to strike. Prior notice for strikes was necessary for workers involved with public utility services like water, electricity, natural gas, telephone and other essential services who had to give notice of six-weeks.
The labour organisations contend that the Code on Social Security Bill covers only the workers of app-based firms like Uber, Ola, Swiggy and Zomato. They are demanding more as these workers are often treated as independent partners, and most labour regulations do not cover them.
The proposed bill on health and occupational safety extend only to factories, mines and docks and fail to ensure the safety of workers in other industries, contend the labour unions.
Labour organization Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh, an affiliate of BJP's ideological parent Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has also protested against the labour code bills.
The organisation has demanded a number of changes and additions and contended that the laws were passed in a hurry.