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UP Govt Suspends All But 4 Labour Laws, Workers' Rights for Three Years, Congress Calls it 'Black Law'

A total of 38 labour laws have been temporarily relaxed for 1,000 days to boost the industrial and business sector as lakhs of labourers have returned to the state.

A health worker checks the temperature of a labourer. (Reuters)

The Uttar Pradesh government on Thursday passed an ordinance to suspend most of the labour laws in the state, in order to attract new companies to invest in the state amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

A total of 38 labour laws have been suspended and only four laws that will continue to be applicable will be Section 5 of the Payment of Wages Act, 1936, Workmen Compensation Act, 1932, Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976, and the Building and Other Construction Workers Act, 1996.

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The ordinance will become law only after it receives the president’s assent.

An official statement said the decision to exempt businesses from the purview of almost all labour laws was taken as economic and business activities in the state have been badly affected by the coronavirus spread.

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"In order to boost existing businesses and attract new industrial activity to the state, certain relaxations will have to be given on a temporary basis. That is why an ordinance called the 'Uttar Pradesh Temporary Exemption from Certain Labour Laws Ordinance, 2020' has been introduced in this regard," it said, adding that provisions related to children and women in the labour laws would continue.

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Other labour laws will become defunct. They include laws related to settling industrial disputes, occupational safety, health and working conditions of workers, and those related to trade unions, contract workers, and migrant labourers. This will apply to both the existing businesses and the new factories being set up in the state.

Uttar Pradesh is the second BJP-ruled state to move to dilute labour laws in the last few days. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan held a press conference on Thursday announcing how the state government will exempt new manufacturing units from all, but some provisions, in the Factories Act, 1948 for the next 1000 days.

The labour law changes in MP, set to be passed on Friday, will allow more factories to operate without following safety and health norms and give a free hand to new companies to “keep labourers in service as per their convenience”.

The Congress criticised the Adityanath government for relaxing the labour laws, with the party's state unit chief Ajay Kumar Lallu saying the government only cares about big businesses and not about the rights of labourers.

"The UP government has brought a black law for labourers in the state and they have now suspended the existing labour laws for three years," he said. "These laws were a saviour of the labour rights, but now the government has suspended the labour laws for next three years, literally snatching away the rights of the labourers."



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