Sweeping labour reforms announced by states like Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat have come in for strong criticism by many. Eminent labour economist Dr Shyam Sundar believes it is an extremely retrograde step that puts the rights and safety of India’s labour force at risk. Uttar Pradesh has announced that it has 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 four labour laws, for three years.
While the ostensible aim is to give a fillip to investment in the state, affected by COVID-19, many labour experts believe that creating a looser and less structured policy would actually be shunned by foreign capital that looks for a strong ethical and legal framework while dealing with human labour.
Pradeep Bhargava, who is past president of the Employer Federation of India and past chair of CII’s National Committee on Industrial Relations, says that the changes announced by the Madhya Pradesh government are positive and will help industry function in a more professional and independent manner. He also believes it is counter-productive for employers to treat their employees in an unfair or unsafe manner.