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Rajya Sabha passes Bill to simplify certain labour laws

The Labour Law Amendment Bill 2011 aims to benefit establishments employing upto 40 workers in
maintaining registers and submitting returns electronically under 16 labour laws instead of nine laws.
The Bill was passed in the Upper House through a division vote with 49 members casting in favour of amendments, while 19 of them against them. The Bill was passed amid a walk out by CPI, CPI (M) and JD(U) members.

Replying to clarifications sought by members, Labour Minister Bandaru Datta said, ‘There is some kind of misinformation about the Bill ... The amendments are only for simplification of procedures. It is nothing anti-labour.’

After labour laws are simplified, the government would be taking further action in the interest of workers. ‘Our policy is pro-people. Our government is committed to labour reforms,’ he said.

Opposing the Bill, Left members including D Raja and Tapan Kumar insisted that the government not expand the definition of ‘small establishments’ as those which employ upto 40 workers for being eligible for exemption of filing of returns and maintainance of registers. Instead, they sought upper limit of workers to be kept at 14 in an establishment.

Currently, the labour law has limited application for providing exemption of filing returns and record keeping to establishments employing upto 19 workers.

The amendment Bill aims to prescribe user-friendly forms and provide for maintainance of registers or records of establishments in computer, floppy or other electronic media and submit the returns via e-mail.

Participating in the discussion, D Raja (CPI) said, ‘I am dissatified with the Bill ... This legislation is letting down the interest of labour. What was the need to increase number of workers from 19 to 40 in an establishment? I think this is done for individual and corporates. You should reduce from 19 to 10-14 workers. You are making it 40, why? If you want to serve corporates, you make it clear.’
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