The Union labour ministry has drafted a new legislation that merges three central labour laws into one, in an attempt to encourage compliance and improve the ease of doing business.

The Labour Code on Industrial Relations Bill, 2015, proposes to combine Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, the Trade Unions Act, 1926, and the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946. The ministry has written to all stakeholders, including trade unions and industry, seeking their response before finalizing the bill.

The bill shall “consolidate and amend the law relating to registration of trade unions, conditions of employment, investigation and settlement of disputes and the matters related therewith or incidental thereto,” said the draft of the bill sent to the stakeholders.

“It shall extend to the whole of India,” the draft bill said.

The move follows the ministry’s recent proposal to merge four wage-related laws—the Minimum Wages Act, the Payment of Wages Act, the Payment of Bonus Act and the Equal Remuneration Act—into one.

The initiative assumes significance in the backdrop of the government’s bid to consolidate and reduce the number of central laws, said a labour ministry official who declined to be named. “For two-and-a-half months, the ministry has been deliberating on the move and, finally, it’s ready to go for public deliberation,” the official added.

“Fewer laws mean better monitoring, easy compliance and benefit to both industries and workers,” the official said, indicating the labour ministry has been following the direction of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has stressed on improving business environment by removing bottlenecks.

D.L. Sachdeva, national secretary of the All India Trade Union Congress, said the central labour union has received intimation from the ministry in this regard. The ministry has also called a meeting on 6 May to discuss the topic in detail, he said.

Sachdeva said the proposed bill will cover three key aspects—the right to association, right to collective bargaining and right to collective service condition. “All central labour unions believe these three issues—the essence of the three bills—shall not be tampered with. Any new addition is fine, but it should not go against workers or promote casualization of workforce,” he said.

The bill, in its present form, has 107 sections in 13 chapters to deal with all industrial relations issues.

According to the draft bill, all workers employed in industries for more than a year will get three months of notice in case there is a plan for retrenchment, but it shall not apply to an “undertaking set up for the construction of buildings, bridges, roads, canals, dams or for other construction work”.

Sachdeva said while the three-month notice is in place, the relaxation for construction firms is controversial and shall “face opposition on any discretion given to any industry segment”.

A second government official, however, said the draft bill is not final and may undergo modifications after wider consultations.

Source: Live Mint (