Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed three Bills related to labour codes amid boycott by the Opposition. Labour Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar said the Bills were an attempt to move towards universal social security for labour and at the same time provide an enabling environment for industry to prosper.
Replying to the debate, Gangwar said, “Bhim Rao Ambedkar spoke about the rights of labour. Through these Bills we have taken forward the dreams of Ambedkar and drawn a parallel between Shramev Jayate and Satyamev Jayate.”
The Bills — Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020, the Industrial Relations Code, 2020, and the Code on Social Security, 2020 — were passed by a voice vote. More than 29 labour laws have been merged into four codes, one of which (Code on Wages Bill, 2019) was passed earlier.
Gangwar said the government had brought the Bills to provide a safe work environment for labour. “We have to gradually move towards universal social security. We want all 50 crore labour to come under social security. We have taken ESIC to those in unorganised sector too. Those engaged in hazardous work have to mandatorily give ESIC. It will also be given to labour of tea estates. We have provided for a social security fund. This will help 40 crore labour in unorganised sector,” Gangwar said.
While initiating the debate, Gangwar said, “When we started the process we found 44 laws which were more than 50 years old. Over 73 years, the work environment has changed.”
He added that the Bills were brought after comprehensive consultation, including through a Parliamentary Standing Committee. Almost 75% of the committee’s 273 recommendations were accepted, he said.
Gangwar said that through the four Bills, workers from the entertainment industry, digital media and electronic media will come under labour laws. “We are very sensitive to migrant labour. States will have to make database of migrant labour. Employer will have to give LTA. There will be welfare scheme portability along with a helpline. They will get free health check-up after a certain age,” Gangwar said.
During the debate, BJD’s Pinaki Misra said, “These three codes consolidate 25 central laws with 411 clauses running over 350 pages. An exercise of this scale has never been undertaken.” However, he flagged issues of “excessive delegated legislation”, “code on social security insisting on Aadhaar” and another Bill encroaching on “the power of states”.
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