There is much in the labour codes that needs to be discussed and debated -Ravi Srivastava

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published Published on Oct 3, 2020   modified Modified on Oct 3, 2020

-The Indian Express

Government’s response to migrants’ plight, economic crisis, has been to unilaterally bring changes in labour laws. But industrial prosperity cannot be built on a race to the bottom for workers.

Only weeks ago, India, and the entire world, witnessed the spectacle of the country’s employment precarity pour out on its roads and highways — men, women and children, in distress of having lost jobs, income and shelter, with no recourse to social security to protect them in those hard days.

The crisis of precarity, manifested in the plight of the circular migrants, was not created in a day. It grew over a period of time as scarce jobs in industry and services increasingly became jobs which did not offer any employment security. Between 2004-05 and 2017-18, the share of salaried workers outside agriculture without any written contract increased from 60 per cent to 71 per cent. Even in private and public limited companies, this share increased from 59 per cent to 71 per cent. The government and the public sector do not offer a different picture with the share of such workers increasing from 27 per cent to 45 per cent over the period. We have estimated that the share of the circular migrants in all the precarious jobs outside of agriculture increased over this period from 47 per cent to 57 per cent. Many of the wage jobs in the organised sector came through contractors. In organised manufacturing, the reported share of contract labour increased from 13 per cent in 1995-06 to 36 per cent in 2017-18.

A policy balm to the exposed blisters of precarity was much needed. The response came in the form the three revised labour Code Bills — on Industrial Relations, Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions, and Social Security — which were introduced in Parliament in the Monsoon Session, and approved without any discussion or debate on September 23.

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The Indian Express, 3 October, 2020, https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/economic-crisis-migrant-labour-bills-covid-19-change-6671565/


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