Slave-Labour Codes: An Industry ‘ask’ !

A drastic reduction in the rights and benefits of the working population is the main thrust of the labour Codes, especially the Code on Social Security, 2020. No Social Impact Assessment was done before these codes were floated because they knew that it was going to wreck the social security scenario of the nation and that the earlier laws brought in with care and compassion during the period from 1948 to 1961 were to be made mincemeat.

The Code on Social Security, 2020 was made law through various tricks played by three IAS Officers in the Ministries of Labour, Law and Parliamentary Affairs. Instead of acting as checks and balances against one another, the three ministries of these officers colluded with one another and ensured the Code with questionable aspects pass through Parliament.

How these three officers cheated the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour and how they manipulated things through a ‘fresh’ Bill No. 121 of 2020 would read like a thriller, more interesting and more poignant than the BBC fame serial, ‘Yes, Minister’.

Now the cat is out of the bag.

These codes were brought in to satisfy the demand of the employers.

“The changes that the four codes are expected to bring about have been long overdue and it has been an industry ‘ask’, says Mr. Pratik Kumar, CEO, Wipro Infrastructure Engineering & Executive Director – Wipro Enterprises, in his keynote address,

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What is evident from the report is that these employers, who were and are interested only in the ease of doing business, found only the wages, the benefits and the service conditions of the workforce irksome. They do not have any opinion about the political donations and bribery which far exceed the wages paid to the workers. Perhaps they are part of the ‘ease’. World has seen noble employers like Robert Owen, George Cadbury and others who considered workmen as human beings and assets. But these employers in India consider workmen as impediments and liabilities. What a fall in civilisation !

Anyway, the confession of Mr. Pratik Kumar has made it clear that these labour codes have been brought in for the welfare of employers and because of the pressure of employers.

The welfare of the labour class had not been a factor reckoned with, in spite of pious statements of the ministries regarding extension of social security to gig workers and others, which were made just in order to camouflage the real intentions.

The ESI Act, 1948 provides the goal post in the matter of benefits.

Its extension to other unorganised sectors had been examined very often, even during the golden jubilee celebrations of 2002. The practical problems faced in the field resulted in delay. Those problems have not vanished till date.

But never was the rate of benefits attempted to be reduced. The Code on Social Security, 2020 reduces the benefits drastically or denies those benefits in toto.

The Code is meant for the employers only. Not in the interest of the vast multitude of working population.

When the scheme was extended to cashew workers as an experimental measure in the year 1989, the quantum of benefits were not reduced. Law was then made with compassion.


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