NDA Government Trying To Make Some Progress In Its Ambitious Labour Reforms Plans


New Delhi: The Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government is trying to make some progress in its ambitious labour reforms agenda which has meandered through several starts and stops with just six months of its term remaining.

Senior government functionaries said the approach now will be to arrive at a consensus with other parties to push the legislative agenda and, simultaneously, sweeten the deal for worker unions, including Bharatiya Janata Party affiliate Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh.

On October 31, Nripendra Mishra, principal secretary to Modi held a high-level meeting with secretaries of some ministries and Niti Ayog officials to prepare a road map for the pending bills on labour reforms. The government’s original plan was to translate 44 complex labour laws into four codes—on Wages, Industrial Relations, Social Security and Welfare, and Occupation Safety, Health and Working Conditions.

Labour secretary Heeralal Samariya said: “I am not in a position to disclose anything about the meeting.”

The government functionaries cited in the first instance said the discussions emphasized taking all stakeholders into confidence and holding discussions with states and trade unions to build a consensus around the need for labour reforms. “Some states and trade unions perceive the codes as anti-labour and pro-industry, whereas the bills provide flexibility, social security and more bargaining power for workers,” said an official present in the meeting.

One of the functionaries added that the government may also look into expanding social security benefits and especially target workers with these. The meeting also discussed a proposal on free social security to certain sections of the workforce with the government paying the premiums on these. The Atal pension scheme, and the PM’s life and accident insurance scheme could be tweaked as social security offerings for workers, this person added.

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