After many states amended labour laws to restart economic activity in view of the COVID-19 lockdown, the Congress lashed out at the state governments and said that labourers could not be subjected to exploitation.
Congress former President Rahul Gandhi tweeted on Monday, “Many states are amending their labour laws to help businesses restart. While we are all working together to battle the Coronavirus, this battle can’t be an excuse to trample on human rights, allow unsafe workspaces, exploit workers & silence their voice. There can be no compromise on these fundamental principles.”
The issue could lead to another face-off between the government and the opposition after the migrant labourers issue.
The Uttar Pradesh government on May 8 had finalised an ordinance suspending a majority of the labour laws in the state for three years.
The state cabinet had cleared the Uttar Pradesh Temporary Exemption from Labour Laws Ordinance, thereby suspending more than 30 labour laws in the state.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had said recently that Uttar Pradesh would amend the labour laws to attract new investments, especially from China.
According to sources, there are more than 40 kinds of labour laws in the labour department, some of which are now redundant. About eight of them are being retained under the ordinance.
Similarly, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had announced wide-ranging changes in the labour laws to stimulate economic activity in the state. He announced the changes on Facebook.
He had said the state will be the first in the country to introduce this innovative initiative to give some major concessions to industries and to promote cooperation between factory owners and workers.
Since labour is a concurrent subject, states can frame their own laws, but will need the approval of the Centre to enforce them.