New Delhi: The government on Saturday introduced three Bills related to labour laws, including on industrial relations, in the Lok Sabha amid opposition from the Congress and Left parties, who demanded that these be sent to the standing committee
Labour Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar introduced the Occupational Safety, Health And Working Conditions Code, 2020, the Industrial Relations Code, 2020, and the Code On Social Security, 2020.
He withdrew the three Bills that were introduced last year and introduced the three new ones.
According to the minister, over 29 labour laws have been merged into four codes and that one of them has already been passed.
The Code on Wages Bill, 2019 was passed by Parliament last year.
Gangwar noted that the government engaged in wider consultations over these Bills with various stakeholders and that more than 6,000 comments were received online.
These bills were later sent to a standing committee and 174 of its 233 recommendations have been accepted, the minister said.
Congress leaders -- Manish Tewari and Shashi Tharoor -- opposed the introduction of the three Bills.
Tewari noted these three bills are fundamentally changed versions of their earlier forms and urged the minister to withdraw them and hold wider consultations before introducing them.
These Bills are also a blow to the rights of workers, he added.
Regarding the Bill on occupational safety, health and working conditions, Tharoor said it fails to have specific provisions to safeguard interests of unorganised sector workers and also that there was no exclusive chapter on inter-state migrant workers.
He also said that the Bill was discriminatory since there is no specific provision on women's welfare.
With respect to the industrial relations code, he said it severely restricts the right of workers to strike and also allows state or central governments to amend the threshold for applicability relating to layoffs and retrenchment.
Opposing the bills, CPI-M member A M Arif said the Bills should be send to the standing committee.
Earlier, Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) leader N K Premachandran opposed withdrawal of three bBlls which the new draft legislations replace.
Collecting Data on Migrant Workers' Suicide: Govt
The government is collecting information on suicide of migrant workers from states during the COVID-19 pandemic, Parliament was informed on Saturday.
"Information on suicides of migrant workers is being collected from State Governments," Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar said in written reply to Lok Sabha.
The minister was replying to a question asked by DMK leader Kanimozhi Karunanidhi.
Gangwar also told the House that around one crore migrant workers returned to their native places during the lockdown.
Besides, the minister said in order to redress the grievances of migrant workers during lockdown, the labour ministry set up 20 control rooms all over the country.
During lockdown, more than 15,000 complaints were resolved through these control rooms, and due to the intervention of the ministry more than two lakh workers were paid their due wages amounting to about Rs 295 crore, he said.
It has been decided to extend the scheme of Atal Beemit Vyakti Kalyan Yojana of Employees’ State Insurance Corporation(ESIC) for another one year from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021, he said.
It has also been decided to enhance the rate of unemployment relief under the scheme to 50% of wages from the earlier rate of 25% along with relaxation of eligibility conditions for insured workers who have lost their employment due to the pandemic and lockdown, the minister added.
Unorganised Worker Database
In a separate reply to the House the minister said "The government envisages creation of National Database for Unorganised Workers (NDUW). This database shall be seeded with Aadhaar and used for facilitating delivery of social security schemes implemented by the government."
At present, unorganised workers are registered under different social security schemes to avail the benefits under the schemes.