HomeLegal AdviceLabour Code Overhaul: Balancing Rights and Protections for Indian Workers

Labour Code Overhaul: Balancing Rights and Protections for Indian Workers

The Union government’s overhaul of 29 labour laws into four labour codes aimed at regulating industrial relations and workers’ welfare faces resistance from labour unions nationwide. Particularly in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, concerns arise over potential loss of hard-won state-level protections for workers.

Tamil Nadu’s Manual Workers Act 1982 shields unorganised workers through 18 welfare boards, offering vital benefits like pensions, educational aid, and maternity support. However, the new codes lack clauses ensuring progressive regulation for manual workers and safeguarding these welfare boards.

Approximately 93% of India’s workforce operates informally, predominantly comprising marginalised communities. The codes seemingly prioritise social security for organised workers, leaving informal workers reliant on vaguely defined ‘welfare schemes’ without employer or government-backed funding.

Alarming trends of job casualisation in formal sectors exacerbate concerns. Contractual labour, now prevalent even in critical sectors like sanitation and manufacturing, faces inadequate protections and a lack of routes to regular employment.

Moreover, the new codes disregard key principles outlined by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), spurring demands from unions for comprehensive legislation safeguarding informal workers’ rights, collective bargaining, fair wages, social security, and occupational safety.

Unions urge the government to reverse repeals of sectoral laws, reinstate funding cesses for welfare schemes, and draft specific legislation catering to the diverse needs of informal workers in various sectors.

Addressing the plight of informal workers is critical for India’s overall employment landscape and socio-economic development. The need for nuanced, sector-specific legislation to protect and empower informal workers remains paramount amidst these labour reforms.

Vakilsearch experts emphasise the need for nuanced legal solutions to safeguard rights of informal workers impacted by labour code reforms. They advocate for sector-specific legislation ensuring protection and fair treatment, aligning with international standards and principles laid down by the ILO. Their focus lies in advocating for fair wages, social security, and dispute resolution mechanisms for marginalised workers in India’s diverse sectors.

Team Vakilsearch