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Re modelling of Indian Labour Industry with the upshot of COVID-19

The global pandemic has shown us the evident largest shock in the economy worldwide and it has been the most crucial backdrop of every nation. It has been considered as an possible indicator of inequity and of deficiency for the social advancement. With the advancement of technologies and health care system the spectrum that we could measure to minimize the economic damage regarding the COVID-19 pandemic has so far been traced at a very poor range whilst it has been seen by a poorer health outcome and with no proper economic function. This outbreak has been severely disrupting the global economy at large.

On the global level, it has been checked so far that around 26.5 million Americans are expecting for jobless benefits, healthcare benefits, tax relief and etc. as the at-most benefits to survive and revive in the economy. It has been noticed by the US government that unemployment at the rate of 16 percent with the annual rate of 40 percent GDP in the second and third quarter is likely to have an upshot in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic. On the contrary UK's economy is likely to slump by 11.5 to 14 percent as compared to Germany, Italy, France and Spain which could cast upon very dark and long shadow over the world in regards to the economic development in this growing world. Additionally, apart from these many environmental changes such as pollution, ozone layer depletion, soil degradation etc has been noticed as a threat to human health and our planet.

To keep the impact of COVID-19 low on the public and business establishment and keep the supply chain running with very less disruption many amendments, advisories and announcements have been made to recover the loss which was made during the lockdown stages. It is well evident that it could take a couple of months or years depending upon the revival mechanisms each nation adopts.

Shedding a light upon the developing country like India and adding worries to the sleep, every Indian citizen has been affected in one or the other sense in different sectors of the economy. Some of the sectors that have been highly caught up in the scenario of the COVID- 19 pandemic are the- micro, small and medium enterprises, the aviation sector, the automobile sector, the real estate sector, the textile and various others.Also, it has been

reflected that due to many industrial non-functioning, the industrial waste emissions has been reduced to a very large extent.

How is Indian Labour industry remodelling:

As India is already going through an economic slowdown which was essentially a problem of demand in the economy the relaxation of the labour laws is the only reform towards the increase of the supply and that will help to intensify the demand problem due to the unavailability of disposable income in a large class of people, e.g., Labour force.

The focus and objective to increase the investment and employment by giving the relaxation to labour laws is optimistic of the government at present in the pandemic scenario. It has affected in terms of exploitation by economic slowdown because of that wages and also basic labour rights are affected; it has also reduced wages and lower down the consumer demand in the economy. At some extend it was acted without any scrutiny (without any parliament approval) and it would thus lead to in formalization in terms of social security. The labour laws in India are often referred as “inflexible” because they are not adequate to make the sector formalized.

The Central Government had agreed that major reforms are a must in the field of labour laws because due to the current presence of multifarious legislation which is dealing with different aspect of labour law. The Constitution of India though confers innumerable rights for protecting and safeguarding the interests of labour under Articles 39, 41, 42, 43, 43A Part III and IV pertaining to Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP), respectively. The Central Government has sought to consolidate the current labour laws into the labour codes, which can be said to be a step in the correct direction to ease the compliance with the laws. If we do a complete suspension of the laws to attract the investment and then reduce the compliance burden it could be called patently illegal from a constitutional view.

States have begun easing labour laws to attract investment and encourage industrial activity. To protect the existing employment, and to provide employment to workers who have migrated back to their respective states. Bring about transparency in the administrative procedures and convert the challenges of a distressed economy into opportunities.To increase the revenue of states which have fallen due to closure of industrial units during Covid-19 lockdown.Labour reform has been a demand of Industries for a long time. The changes became necessary as investors were stuck in a web of laws and red-tapism. Businesses and economic activities have slowed down due to which labour welfare has also been affected due to the national lockdown.

Even this situation of a global pandemic due to COVID-19 does not justify the deliberate neglect of the labour force. In this particular time of pandemic the step that India took to protect the interest of labour force was strict directives for the employers. The specific order states and exempts any employer from terminating any of the employees or say any contact labour in respect to the lockdown, except for any of the disciplinary reasons. Additionally it also exempts employer from reducing employee's wages. Medical checks, paid leave, maintaining workforce and sick time for employees suffering from COVID-19 are the some of the issues that are addressed by the Indian government in regards to the labour force. Paradoxically, the response of other countries such as the UK, France, Canada, etc. has been positive to support their employees and the employers in the time of this global crisis.

The changes that are made presently in labour industry would apply to businesses and to all the factories that are being set up in the state. Some of the few changes that are made in the labour laws - Employers can increase the working hours in the factories from 8 hours to 12 hours and they can stretch upto 72 hours a week in overtime, depending upon the will of the employees.The factory registration would done now not in a day, instead it would follow till 30 days. Instead of a year the licence should be renewed after 10 years respectively.

An additionally provision is also there in regards to not meeting with the deadlines. Contractors employing less than 50 workers will be able to work without registration under the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970.The Labour Department or the labour court will not interfere in the action taken by industries. Industrial Units would be exempted from majority of the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. Organisations will be able to keep workers in service at their convenience.

Redefining Factories post COVID-19:

The government proposes several amendments in The Factories Act,S1948 to ensure adequate safety measures and promote health and welfare of the workers. One of which is relates to redefining of the factories from a minimum of 10 workers in an establishment (if power is used) to 20 and from 20 (if power is not been used) to 40nworkers. The CITU (Centre of Indian Trade union) thinks that this move will push large number of units to the organized sector. The BMS is in favour of removing all thresholds, including ones for applicability of EPF and other laws too. Unions have said that labour law should be applicable to all factories, even if there is one worker.

While it will remains to be seen that how far the government accommodates the trade unions wishers, many of the reform and proposals are actually been borrowed from the Rajasthan for e.g. Increase in the thresholds for trade unions, expanding the size for lay-offs/closure and redefining a factory - which the Economic Survey of 2018-19 says has produced good results.

The COVID-19 pandemic has done some serious damage to the Labours throughout the world and people are affected at large and this will continue for the foreseeable future. The employers should see that not to risk their employment they should start reviewing the all new applicable law, regulation and agency guidance, revising their company policies as necessary and continuing the see what all can be done as public health crisis progresses.

This is also a good chance for the government to make new labour as they needed a reform since long. It will take time to bring the labour back on the normal track as post COVID-19 but if proper laws are been followed and new laws are been made by the government keeping COVID-19 crises in mind we can overcome this pandemic crises soon.

Written By: Pari Prajapati & Puneet Jangid

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