[Answered]“The draft rules to the Wages Act, a law expected to provide economic and social justice, will only exploit workers further.”Comment.

Demand of the question

Introduction. Contextual Introduction.

Body. Mention how of the draft rules to the Wages Act will lead to economic and social justice? Mention issues that may lead to exploitation.

Conclusion. Way forward.

The draft rules to the Wages Actproposes to simplify labour laws to bring them in sync with the emerging economic situation, facilitate easier compliance by establishments, promote ease of living and ensure labour welfare and wage and social security for workers. The draft aims to transform the old and obsolete labour laws into more accountable and transparent ones and seeks to pave the way for the introduction of minimum wages and labour reforms in the country.

 How of the draft rules to the Wages Act will lead to economic and social justice?

  1. Draft rules will remove the multiplicity of definitions and authorities, leading to ease of compliance without compromising wage security and social security to workers.
  2. It will substantially reduce the number of minimum wages in the country from the, existing more than 2000 rates of minimum wages. This would ensure that every worker gets a minimum wage which will also be accompanied by an increase in the purchasing power of the worker thereby giving a fillip to growth in the economy.
  3. It is expected to treat contract labour on par with regular employee to have dignified life.
  4. It is expected to provide for an appellate authority between the claim authority and the judicial forum which will lead to speedy, cheaper and efficient redressal of grievances and settlement of claims as that of earlier.
  5. The code is expected to benefit over 50 crores employees across the country. It would help to reduce compliance costs for employers and is expected to reduce litigation as it streamlines the definition of wages.
  6. The code is expected to go for digital mode/cheques as the mode of payment of wages. This would promote digitisation and extend wage and social security to the worker.
  7. Will ensure decent Minimum wage for all which will result into increase in disposable incomes in turn help in eradicating Poverty, hunger to achieve SDGs.
  8. It will ensure humane working conditions through minimum working hours, overtime etc. and prevent exploitation of labour.
  9. The Code prohibits gender discrimination on wage-related matters. It would also help in reduce regionalism by reducing wage disparity across different regions.

Issues that may lead to exploitation of worker:

  1. There are many anomalies in the draft rules on Code on Wages which need to be amended. The new rules are silent about many provisions clearly provided in the 4 Acts subsumed in the Code.
  2. There is no clarity on the working hours in the draft rule. The working hour should be 6 hours a day. Besides, there are issues related to fixation of minimum wage in the draft rules.
  3. The rules does not provide for up-gradation of a workers’ to semi-skilled or skilled category from unskilled. That generally happens in any trade. People join job as a fresher and improves his or her skills. That is missing in the draft rules.
  4. The draft rules does not provide for representation of trade unions in the wage fixation committee. The earlier four Acts subsumed in the Code, provided for that.
  5. The new law provides for the arbitrary deduction of wages (up to 50% of monthly wage) based on performance, damage or loss, advances etc.The deduction clause will lead to reduced bargaining power and right of association of workers. The workers will not be able to demand even basic work rights in fear of wage deduction.
  6. In India, the informal sector employers dominate the workers due to caste and higher social status, therefore the above provision may have the potential to become a handy tool for exploitation of these workers.
  7. The rules do not clarify the governance and institutional structure for “labour inspection system”. The rules propose an ad-hoc unclear mechanism called “inspection scheme”.The scheme provides for appointment of Inspector by notification by the appropriate government. This may lead to the revival of inspector-raj system in the labour market.

The Article 43 of the Constitution of India states that the state shall endeavor to secure by suitable legislation or economic organisation or in any other way to all workers a living wage, conditions of work ensuring a decent standard of life and full enjoyment of pleasure and social and cultural opportunities. Some of the issues like what would the states which already provide higher minimum wage than the proposed national minimum wage do. The minimum salary needs to be adjusted regularly to keep pace with inflation. A mechanism should be developed to adjust minimum wages regularly and more frequently.

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