Sources said E Kareem (CPM) and M Shanmughan (DMK) have issues with some provisions in the draft report and are likely to file dissent notes. 13 members of the Standing Committee on Labour have given their approval to the report.
Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar had moved the Code on Social Security, 2019 in the Lok Sabha during the winter session last December. It was then sent to the Standing committee headed by BJD MP Bhartruhari Mahtab.
The committee again took up the issue of some state governments tampering with the present labour laws to attract multinational companies trying to relocate from China due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The panel sought to know from Labour Secretary Heeralal Samariya whether reports that the state governments will be allowed to make changes like increasing working hours from eight to 12, changes in Factories Act and Industrial Safety and so on were correct.
The labour secretary stood his ground that any amendment to the labour laws or issuing of any ordinance by a state that does not adhere to the four Codes on labour rights will be declared illegal. Labour is in the Concurrent List where the Centre prevails over the states in case of a clash.
Several members from different political parties as well as the panel chairperson sought clarifications from the government on this issue in the meeting, sources said.
“Since the state Assemblies are not in session, state governments can only issue ordinances that may tamper with existing labour laws. The ordinance will have to get presidential assent and the President of India will do so only on the advice of the Centre, specifically the union labour ministry. Any amendment that is in contravention of the Codes on labour rights will be quashed,” a senior official said.
The Standing Committee has also written to the governments of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh seeking their stand on the reported moves on their part to amend the existing labour laws.
After submission of the report on code on social security to the Speaker on July 31, the parliamentary panel will convene on August 7 in which the changes made in labour laws by some state governments which go against the Centre’s legislation will again be examined. The labour secretary is likely to dwell further on this issue.
Meanwhile, two members of the parliamentary panel- K Subbarayan (CPI) and D Ravikumar (DMK)- had written to Mahtab seeking deferment of the meeting due to travel restrictions in the wake of COVID-19 and demanded that virtual sessions be held, a request that has already been rejected by the presiding officers of the two Houses of Parliament.
Four Codes on Labour rights that amalgamate 44 Acts pertaining to these issues have been mooted till now. These are Code on Wages; Code on Occupation Safety, health and working conditions; Code on Industrial Relations; and the Code on Social Security.
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