Labour plays a major role in maintaining the productivity and management of the country. The main task of our government is to increase the contribution to national development which directly depends on the workers of the country. But there is a huge gap between the lifestyle of labours and capitalists. So to increase the status of labours our government came with various labours laws that provide them security, working conditions, employment. The main aim of labour legislation is to provide basic amenities of life to workers and to maintain industrial peace.
Labour Legislation is very necessary because workers are weak economically so they cannot bargain or negotiate with the employers. So it provides them bargaining power, health facilities, safety and welfare.
The role of labour mostly comes in the picture at the time of British Colonialism when the industrial revolution started in India. But their condition was very bad because of British exploitation. They treat them like property, paid fewer wages. They were deprived of their right but it gave benefits to Britishers because of cheap labour. This did not only affect the Indian labours but also to the British Parliament as competition increased to British textiles in the export market. So the British Parliament passed the Factories Act of 1883 which deal with their basic rights like eight hour of work, child labour abolition, and extra wages for extra work. After then the journey of labour laws started and various Acts passed by the Britishers such as labours such as Workmen Compensation Act 1923, Mines Act 1923, Forced Labour 1930, Payment of Wages Act 1936.
When India got independence then government provide various new rights to labours which provide them with equality and increase their social status. Today our Labour legislation currently deal with 44 central laws and more than 100 state laws. There is a separate act for every separate right of labour like industrial Disputes Act, 1947, Trade Union Act, 1926, Minimum Wages Act, 1948, Factories Act, 1948, Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 Apprentices Act 1961, Payment of Bonus Act 1965, The Mines Act 1952, laws related to Maternity Benefits etc.
Labour policy of India
Labour policy of India comes from Part IV of the constitution which is the Directive Principle of State Policy which is based on certain fundamental principles such as:-
Our legislators at the time of making law try to provide social justice which means equal distribution of profits between industrialist and labours. Because there is a huge gap between rich and poor and most of the population covered by the poors so if this gap fill then India will emerge as the developed country. It is social justice which provides minimum wages, safety, health facilities to labours.
Labour laws of India follow the principle of social equity which means to fill the gaps in-laws as per the requirement of society. This power of changing the law according to the circumstances is taken by the government which passed new Acts and make amendments in old Acts like recently our lawmakers passed code wage Act 2019.
Another principle on which our labour laws are based is International Uniformity. The role to check whether any law follows this principle or not, is checked by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Its main aim is to remove injustice to improve the working conditions of labour and provide equality.
In India, there are various labour policies for the economic development, welfare of workers and to provide certain directions to Labour laws. Main postulates of Labour Policy are:-
• State-recognized as the custodian for the interest of the community. Its means it is the duty of government to make such committees that directly connect with workers and labours by listening to their problems and govern them.
• To treat labours in a peaceful way if justice denied to them.
• To make such governing bodies that work as a tool for providing justice easily like Arbitration, Mediation and encourage them to participate in case of disputes.
• It is the responsibility of the state to favour the weaker party first.
• To maintain industrial peace
• Provide fair wages as per the inflation rate of the country and give social security.
• To enhance the status of the worker in the industry.
• Create new Jobs
Important Acts of Indian Labour Laws
The government enacted various laws for the betterment of labours such as:-
Industrial Disputes Act, 1947-
This Act enacted for the investigation and to settle the disputes between workers and employers. And to dismiss any worker is also considered as a dispute according to this act. To settle any dispute it provides appointment of Conciliation Officers, Courts of Inquiry, Labour Courts, Tribunals, and National Tribunals. This act also recognised other methods to settle any dispute like Arbitration. According to this act if the employer wants to close the industrial establishment then he shall first obtain prior permission before 90 days of closure. It started to provide notice, 6 weeks before the strike and prohibited lock-outs, illegal strikes mentioned in the fifth schedule of the constitution.
Minimum Wages Act,1948-
This act fixed the minimum wage for the workers for fixed hours paid by the employer. These minimum wages prescribed by the state through a notification in National Gazette under the Minimum Wage Rule of Specific State. In this act, it is mentioned that wages are revised after fixed years regularly. It provides different wages and employment for a different class such as child, adult, and an adolescent.
Trade Union Act, 1926-
This act gives powers to workers to make trade union and collectively assert their demand to the employer because in most of the cases the individual worker is not able to negotiate or keep his demands in front of the employer. So if the demands of workmen are genuine and for the interest of all, then they will also be able to fulfil their demands. By this way, it is very difficult for an employer to exploit the workers. For making trade union minimum seven members apply for registration. Act also deal with mode and application of registration, provisions related to rights and liabilities.
Factories Act, 1948-
This Act deal with the working condition of the labours which include health, safety, proper working hours. This act also provides an extra wage for overtime work. It stated to appoint workers on a rotational basis for night shift and provide notice beforehand. And no women are supposed to work from 10 PM to 5 AM. It prohibited the children to work below the age of fourteen. This Act also deals with hazardous activities in the factory.
Equal Remuneration Act, 1976-
This Act based on one of the principle mentioned in Part IV (Directive Principle of State Policy Article 39(d)) of the Constitution. i.e. equal pay for equal work. So it provides wages of equal remuneration to men and women on the basis of work, not on the basis of gender. It prohibited discrimination in terms of recruitment, wages on the basis of sex in every kind of establishment.
Government laid down certain policies for labour which provide them directly to make any labour laws and it gives them a path by which they are governed.
India is a country which is in the stage of developing because of its rising or growth of GDP but that growth mostly by a certain group of peoples because most of them are jobless. And there are various labour laws which put restrictions on the industry in their smooth functioning like in Trade Union Act by which it gives scope to workers for unreasonable demand. Many economists criticise Labour legislation because according to them it is only in favour of workers and labours not in favour of employers. It is said that the ranking of India in ease of doing business is declining because of the various old labour laws before and at the time of Independence.
So it is the duty of our lawmakers to again plan and balanced the labour market in a systematic way for quality jobs and for increasing the growth and production of the country.
“The views of the authors are personal“
Frequently Asked Questions
Discuss the articles of the Constitution that deal with Labours?
Articles of the Constitution that deal with labours are:
Article19(1)(c) which guarantees citizens to form a union or association, Article23 prohibits forced labour, Article24 prohibits all forms of child labour, Article39(a) right to earn a livelihood without getting discriminated on the basis of their sex., Article39(d) equal pay for equal work for both men and women, Article41 that deals with “Right to Work”, Article42 for the uplift of the working conditions for workers, Article43 for a living wage” for its citizens.
In which list subject of Labour comes?
Labour comes in the subject of Concurrent List where both Centre and State are able to enact legislation.