BEYOND THE HANDS AND THE BODIES: NEW INDUSTRIAL CODE BILL
The rights of workers in India have been trampled on and will be trampled on more with the new bill of 2019
Gazing at the sexagenarian, many families behind the eight ball contemplated the man to be the curator of their sorrows. They wanted him at the helm of affairs, expecting a paradigm shift in his tenure. Not only did they make him victorious with a thumping majority but trusted every single word said by him as if it were a sermon.
The same old plight resurfaced with the adoption of the draft report of the New Industrial Bill 2019 by the Speaker, on April 15, 2020. The Bill seeks to amalgamate 44 central labour laws in one single unified law with a view to simplify the process of foreign investment and to give a boost to the tattering economy.
70 years of independence, but the hands and bodies that shape the city, driving it towards the scaling heights-composing of the workers, labourers continue to be at the edges concerning the policy structure. In a capitalist economy, corporate interests are always put ahead of the interests of the working people. India is no exception with 450 million population working in the informal sector having minimal social benefits remain marginalised in decadence. A revulsion towards the Labour Laws has emerged in a plethora of Legislations in the recent past. The current Bill is a corollary of the same draconian measures seeking to subsume and replace the three acts i.e the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, the Trade Unions Act, 1926 and the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946. The Labour Law codification has given elasticity to the Government in terms of the changes in labour laws as per the requirement basis. While the Industrialists supported the ease in rigidity, the trade unions and the Economists criticised the move for diluting the social security net and undermining the rights of the workers.
POINTS OF CONTENTION
As per the provisions of the Bill, based on the nature of the job, the contract period of the workers can be tweaked making it easier for the companies to hire and fire the employees. Also, the Code prohibits strikes in any industrial establishment unless prior notice of 14 days is provided. Adding to the woes is the upper hand of the Government over the National Tribunal, permitting it to defer, reject or modify the awards by a National Tribunal. Now, the questions which get surfaced as a result of these measures need to be seen from the labour's lens. Seen from this perspective, one can see the dilution of the workers' right to job security, hindrance in their ability to head for a strike, and also the gross violation of the concept of separation of powers although, not explicitly mentioned in the Supreme Law of the land. The most important question which remains unaddressed is 'where are we, the woman in this Bill'?
LACUNAE IN THE WILL: NEED FOR A FIRM RESOLVE
Unemployment in countries abroad comes with a liability on the part of the government to provide the people with a security net. India still retains some of the socialist measures but these benefits come in the form of directives devoid of state liability and with a lack of clear priorities "Money should go the right place, prioritising spending is a must", said Shankar Aggarwal, the former Labour Secretary. This is the time where there is a dire need for better health infrastructure, quality education, job security, etc. He further added, "Quality of education in our country is appalling with more focus on rote learning devoid of any application". There is a need to rethink from an altogether novel perspective that opens new vistas for the marginalised section. The focus should be on setting aside the parochial thinking and rise above the trivialities. "This Bill, having an androgenic approach is short of the benefits for the women", said Charu Wali Khanna, Advocate Supreme Court of India. Women should be treated at par with men in terms of wages, jobs. The problem with our system is that everything is so procedural and red taped that it leads to corruption on a massive scale thereby, denying benefits to the actual victims. Therefore, the Government has a strong liability to provide relief to the marginalised by coming up with concrete policy measures not only on paper but in the essence as well. After all, the hands of the labourers have forged countless civilizations in every epoch and it would be a gross miscarriage of justice if such a dodgy bill is allowed to be passed with its current provisions.