Need for Right to work in India

Context: Need for Right to work in India.

What is the legal status of the right to work internationally and in India?

  • International: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights includes the right to work in the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.
  • In India: Though the Right to work is not a constitutional right but it was accorded Statutory rights through the MGNREGA act. Under MGNREGA, a person can hold the state accountable for not fulfilling the right by demanding an unemployment allowance.

Need for Right to work?

  • Failure of market: The right to work is not only about lack of adequate work but also the profound lack of public goods and assets. It is the state’s responsibility to provide these public goods when the market fails provide welfare.
  • Destruction due to Development: The path of development has not only created adequate employment opportunities but it has also resulted in displacement of people from their means of livelihood.
  • Jobless growth: Along with this, the failure to create new jobs by the government and advent of automation leading to jobless growth there is a need to think on the right to work and make it legally enforceable.
  • Statutory backing can be repealed any time: Also, the statutory backing given to right to work in India through MGNREGA can be withdrawn through legislative actions.

How can we make ‘the right to work’ in India a reality?

  • One approach is through Decentralised Urban Employment and Training, or DUET.
  • For DUET, urban local bodies can issue job vouchers to certified public institutions such as schools and universities for pre-approved tasks. These institutions can only use the vouchers to hire labor for pre-defined tasks e.g. painting school buildings.
  • Along with MGNREGA, an Urban Employment Guarantee can be enacted. In the wake of COVID-19, three States Odisha, Jharkhand, and Himachal Pradesh have launched measures along these lines.
  • States need to expand spending on providing basic services such as health, education, and housing, and in providing them, employment can be generated.
  • For example, Thailand, which has a universal basic healthcare system that is labor-intensive. It solves two problems, builds social infrastructure, and simultaneously creates jobs.

Do the 4 labor codes dilute worker rights?

  • India is a labour surplus economy, so in the capital-labour bargaining process, labour is structurally weak in India.
  • To balance this government needs to legislate protective labour laws however the four labour codes tries to achieve the opposite.
  • An effective employment guarantee programme can be an excellent solution to the structural weakness of labour. it automatically creates the conditions for better treatment of workers.

‘Right to work’ is not only about employment opportunities but also the right to earn one’s own livelihood without any obstruction and in a dignified way. Dignity of living should be assured through fair work conditions, such as being paid a fair wage, regulated work hours.

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