UP Passes Ordinance to Scrap Most Labour Laws For 3 Years

The UP government has cleared the ‘Uttar Pradesh Temporary Exemption from Certain Labour Laws Ordinance, 2020’.

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The Uttar Pradesh government on Thursday, 7 May, approved an ordinance to exempt businesses from the purview of almost all labour laws for the next three years.

In a press statement, as quoted by Business Standard, the government said 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 labour laws, except for three and one provision of another Act, for a period of three years.

According to Business Standard, only the Building and Other Construction Workers Act, 1996, Workmen Compensation Act, 1923, Bonded Labour Act, 1976 and Section 5 of the Payment of Wages Act, 1936 (the right to receive timely wages) will apply in the entire state.

Since labour is a concurrent subject under the Constitution of India, the states can frame their own laws but they need the approval of the central government, Business Standard quoted Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary RK Tiwari as saying.

The ordinance will reportedly apply to both the existing businesses and the new factories being set up in the state.

“The horticultural and economical activities in the states have been severely affected and slowed down due to the outbreak of Covid-19. This is because businesses and economic activities came to a halt more or less due to the national lockdown,” a press statement issued by the state government said, as quoted by Business Standard, said.

“The idea is that in the present circumstances where we need to provide employment to workers who have migrated back to the state and to protect the existing employment, some flexibility has to be given to business and industry,” Tiwari told Business Standard.

‘Bonded Labour System’: UP Ordinance on Labour Laws Criticised

Many on Twitter criticised the UP government’s move by either questioning its legal validity or comparing it to a “bonded labour system”.

Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan said, “Instead of helping workers who lost their jobs, incomes, food during Lockdown, Govt is abolishing laws to protect them. Going back to bonded labour system & slavery. (sic)”

CPI(M) General Secretary tweeted, “ Soon all BJP State govts will demolish labour laws. Central govt will use that as the reason to implement nationally, under the pretext of battling the pandemic. Modi says respect ‘wealth creators’ while destroying labour, the ‘value creators’. (sic)”

(With inputs from Business Standard.)

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