Apart from Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, too, had announced sweeping changes in labour laws in order to give some relief to the industry reeling under the lockdowns imposed in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic.
The Uttar Pradesh Cabinet has empowered the state government to suspend certain provisions of the UP Industrial Disputes Act 1947 and the UP Factories Act 1948. The state cabinet cleared the way for the state government to make necessary amendments to these Acts late last evening by circulation.
The state Cabinet’s move comes barely a month after the Union labour ministry assured the parliamentary standing committee that it will not allow attempts made by some state governments to suspend key labour laws for three years or more or bring in sweeping changes in their labour laws, including extension of work time to beyond eight hours a day.
In May this year, the government had cleared the ‘Uttar Pradesh Temporary Exemption from Certain Labour Laws Ordinance, 2020’ to exempt all establishments, factories and businesses from the purview of all but three labour laws and one provision of another Act, for a period of three years. This was done to revive economic activity that had been reeling under the impact of Covid-19 lockdowns.
According to sources in the labour department, since the UP Industrial Disputes Act is a state Act, it would come into force once it is passed by both the houses of the state legislature and gets the assent of both the Governor and the President, while the Factories Act would need to go back to the Centre’s table.
Apart from Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, too, had announced sweeping changes in labour laws in order to give some relief to the industry reeling under the lockdowns imposed in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic. But the parliamentary standing committee on labour had asked the state governments to desist from making such sweeping changes in the labour laws.
However, according to sources, the amendments would empower the state government to change certain relevant clauses in these Acts for a certain period under special circumstances to help promote industrialisation in the state and also to provide employment opportunities to migrants locally.
“Earlier, the state government had planned sweeping changes in most of the labour laws, which was shot down by the Centre after it was opposed by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and trade unions. But now the state cabinet has empowered the government to suspend certain provisions of these two Acts only,” said an official in the know of things.
It may be mentioned that the Uttar Pradesh government was initially forced to retract its order on 12-hour per day work hours after a PIL was filed in the Allahabad High Court against the ordinance.