Different Indian states have been tweaking or suspending their labour laws citing COVID crisis as a reason. But the International Labour Organization (ILO) India feels that the best remedy to recover from COVID crisis is engaging in a dialogue with the government, workers and employers.
In a statement shared with The Free Press Journal, ILO India said, “Labour Laws protect the well-being of both employers and workers. They are an important means to advance social justice and promote decent work for all. Consequently, formulation of labour laws and revisions, are most effective when it emanates through a strong dialogue.”
Dagmar Walter, Director, ILO Decent Work Team for South Asia and India, said, “A climate of trust among the stakeholders, built through social dialogue and tripartism, will be essential to recover from the COVID-19 impact on the world of work. ILO reaffirms its commitment to support Government, Workers’ and Employers’ Organisations in their endeavour to emerge out of the COVID-19 crisis.”
The Indian states that have indulged in suspension or tweaking of labour law are Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab. While most of the states increased working hours only two states that are Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh that have gone for a suspension of labour law or complete change in their labour law. Reacting to this, Walter, said, “The impact of relaxing the labour laws in some Indian States should be reviewed jointly by these stakeholders against the International Labour Standards, especially the ILO Declaration on Fundamental and Principal Rights of Work which India had adopted in 1998.”
Walter highlighted the states demand absence of forced labour and child labour, the absence of discrimination at work, and a culture that upholds Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining, along with the necessity to ensure the Occupational Health and Safety of all workers for safe return to work.