The implementation of the four labor codes passed by the Parliament between the years 2019 and 2020 with the aim of bringing about a comprehensive change in India’s employment scenario is currently stalled.
People in the know of the matter say that they are unlikely to be implemented before the 2024 general elections. These four codes together form a consolidated version of 29 central labor laws. These include the Wage Code, 2019; Industrial Relations Code, 2020; Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020; and the Social Security Code, 2020. These four Samhitas have been equally praised and criticized.
These labor codes are one of the most important economic reforms undertaken by the Modi government. Critics see them as controversial and anti-labour, while those seeking free labor policies say these codes will promote growth and employment and eliminate outdated laws to keep up with a rapidly changing economy. The major changes made in these include major rules like firing of workers without the approval of the government, declaration of strike by the union, permission for women to work in night shift.
According to experts, three major reasons are preventing these codes from being implemented. First, some states are yet to publish rules regarding these. Second, talks between the Union labor ministry and the unions have stalled, and third, the Center is keen to involve all stakeholders in the process. This is because the Modi government had to withdraw the agricultural laws in 2021, the Center does not want such a situation.
Ten trade unions opposed them
A forum of 10 trade unions, barring the RSS-affiliated BMS, urged Labor Minister Bhupendra Yadav to repeal the four labor codes, saying they were anti-labour. Currently, 31 states have published draft rules under the Wage Code, while 26 states have come out with draft rules on the Occupational Safety Code. Preliminary procedures on the Industrial Relations Code have been completed by 28 states. Similarly, 28 states have published draft rules on social security legislation.