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Govt prevails over Opposition, gets Labour Bill passed

The Bill will now exempt small establishments, which is nearly 482.7 lakh as per the Central Statistical Office, from furnishing returns and maintaining registers. The Bill was earlier passed in the Rajya Sabha.

The changes made in the existing Labour Bill, will now contain the Motor Transport Workers Act, 1961, the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965, the Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979, and the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996.

The main objective of the Bill to increase the number of laws from existing nine to 16 under which small units will be exempted from furnishing returns, bringing a huge  respite for those struggling under ‘inspector raj’. In the new Bill, the definition of ‘small’ establishments is also being changed to cover units employing between 10 and 40 workers, against 19 workers at present.

During the passage of the ‘Bill’, leaders of Trinamool Congress (TMC), CPI (M) and Biju Janata Dal (BJD), were heard raising slogans against the move citing reason that lakhs of workers would lose their labour law protection. Also, an amendment, which was moved by Saugata Roy of TMC was rejected during the process. Moving the Bill for consideration and passage, Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Bandaru Dattatreya, assured the House that the government will do everything to protect the rights of the workers, while pursuing reforms to create more employment opportunities.

CPI (M) leader Sankar Prasad Datta termed the Bill as ‘pro-corporate’, while K Suresh and Mallikarjun Kharge (both former Labour Ministers) also opposed it saying inspectors existed in all departments and it was wrong to single out labour laws. BJD leader R K Jena too opposed the Bill and said, “any law without penal provision was defunct”.
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