The Kautilya Society, NUJS is pleased to invite you to the 1st edition of the ‘Kautilya Dialogue’, beginning with a panel discussion on “Demystifying the Labour Code: Workers, Welfare and Wages”
The year 2020 could witness a tectonic shift in industrial relations with the Indian Government stepping in to streamline existing labour laws. In order to consolidate existing statutes, the Ministry of Labour and Employment has proposed four codes, each of which has received the Presidential assent and passed by the two Houses of Parliament to become an Act. These are the Code on Wages, 2019; Labour Code on Industrial Relations, 2019; the Code on Social Security, 2019 and the Occupational Safety, Health & Working Conditions Code, 2019.
Through the Industrial Relations Code, the Ministry seeks to introduce fixed-term employment in order to ease disengagement of workers on the basis of existing exigencies. The Code also introduces the concept of negotiating union in order to streamline collective bargaining with workers.
Apart from the IR Code, the Social Security Code recognises the concept of gig and platform workers. Indian consumers are increasingly relying on app-based services rendered by multinationals and domestic firms. Noble House, a consultancy firm recently concluded that seventy per cent of Indian companies have hired gig workers at least once for major organisational work in the year 2018.
The Social Security Code contains a definition of gig workers, i.e. “a person who performs work or participates in a work arrangement and earns from such activities outside of a traditional employer-employee relationship.” These include food delivery executives working with tech platforms such as Zomato and Swiggy along with Ola and Uber drivers. Since these workers are not considered employees, they remain outside the protections envisaged under traditional social security legislations. Gig and platform workers fall within the chapter on unorganised workers and not as part of the formal workforce.
However, the Code on Wages, 2019 has made development with regard to broadening the definition of ‘employer’ and ‘employee’ such that the labour legislations cover employees of both organized and unorganized sector as well as unifying the definition of wages for the purpose of, inter alia, limited litigation.
The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2019 subsumed 13 existing laws in the context of a need to have consolidated legislation specifying minimum standards of health and safety conditions of workers. The Code has come into much criticism with regard to its coverage as it applies to such establishments with 10 or more workers, thus, not covering all kinds of workers.
It is in this context that we hope to host a fruitful discussion on some of the broad issues around the four labour codes.
The following speakers will participate in the discussion: (speaker bios attached)
- Mr. Debanjan Chakrabarti, veteran Trade Union Leader
- Ms. Atasi Ghosh, Advocate, Calcutta High Court
- Dr. Saurabh Bhattacharjee, Assistant Professor, WBNUJS
Mr. Lokenath Chatterjee, Advocate, Calcutta High Court, will moderate the session.