The crisis of COVID-19 has opened scope for a number of discussions on labourers and laws associated with them. The global pandemic has forced many factories to shut down, leaving labourers in the country with no jobs.
Thousands of migrant workers have been returning from metropolises to their home states. While this might bring some sort of labour shortage in industrialist states such as Karnataka, Delhi, Maharashtra, Kerala, etc., states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, etc. might find it difficult to feed all those workers who have returned to their home states.
From legislature to executive to judiciary, all three governing components of the constitution are currently working on a framework that could bring labour stability in the country. In a recent development, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh suspended most of the labour laws for three years in order to fetch more investments to the states. While the government is doing its bit,let’s understand what labour laws in India look like.
Indian Labour Law in the Constitution The Constitution of India places labour as a subject in the concurrent list, which comes under both the union and state governments. India’s labour law is considered highly restrictive for companies, since it sought to give higher order of protection to workers. Labour rights are mentioned in articles 14-16, 19(1)(c), 23-24, 38, and 41-43A of the Constitution. Pune-based Bharati Vidyapeeth New Law College’s lecturer of constitutional studies states, “Article 16 specifically talks about the right of equality of opportunity for employment, while 19(1)(c) gives them the right to form associations or unions.”
In addition to various other laws, the 2008 Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act adds coverage of life and disability benefits, old age protection, health and maternity benefits for unorganised workers. Whether the abolition of labour laws in various states will hold its nerve and stay in practice or not is a matter of time. However, what can be told with certainty is that India’s labour laws are strictly in favour of workers.