The Centre is, at present, not planning to relax retrenchment norms for factories but will wait to see if other states follow in Rajasthan’s footsteps and amend the Industrial Disputes Act.
“Labour is in the concurrent list in the Constitution. Rajasthan government has taken the decision to amend the Industrial Disputes Act along with other labour law changes. We are not doing so right now but want to see if more states plan such amendments,” said Bandaru Dattatreya, newly appointed minister of state (independent charge) for labour and employment.
Since labour is in the concurrent list, states as well as Centre can make enact their own legislation on the subject.
Pointing out that every state is competitive for investments and development, Dattatreya indicated that more states could reform labour laws as “incentives”.
The Rajasthan government has last week received Presidential assent for amendments to three laws – the Factories Act, Industrial Disputes Act and Contract Labour Act. It has now become the first state in the country to allow companies with up to 300 people to retrench workers shut down operations without prior government approval. The provision was earlier only for those firms with 100 workers or less.
The Madhya Pradesh Cabinet, too, recently allowed such changes while Uttar Pradesh and Haryana have also been working on similar reforms.
While the Centre has also moved amendments to The Factories Act, 1948 and the Apprentices Act, 1961, Dattatreya, who took charge as labour minister on November 10, maintained that the NDA government is not anti-labour.
“We are taking many measures for labour welfare and we will encourage trade unionism. But industry has to survive and then only can workers prosper,” he told The Indian Express, stressing that the amendments will ultimately help workers.