The Rajya Sabha on Tuesday passed by voice vote the Labour Laws (Exemption from Furnishing Returns and Maintaining Registers by Certain Establishments) Amendment Bill, 2011 amid walkout by the CPI(M), the CPI, the Janata Dal (United) and the Trinamool Congress members.
These parties were opposed to some of the provisions of the Bill. The CPI, the CPI(M) and the TMC members moved certain amendments which were not carried.
Labour unions affiliated to these parties announced a countrywide protest on December 5 against the amendments on the ground that a large number of units will no longer be regulated for maintaining registers of attendance, wage slips of workers.
Moving the amended Bill, Minister of State for Labour and Employment Bandaru Dattatreya on Tuesday assured the Rajya Sabha that the government was “not at all” compromising on the interest of workers and the legislation was not meant to give exemption to any establishment. “The Bill is a social security measure. It simplifies procedures. The main purpose of bringing the Bill is transparency, accountability and proper enforcement. The EPF Universal Account Number will be a major benefit as it affords portability, transparency and efficiency,” he said.
The Bill, as amended, proposes to change the original Act of 1988 to increase the number of laws under which small establishments are exempt from furnishing returns and maintaining registers from nine to 16. It amends the definition of “small” establishments to cover units employing between 10 to 40 workers as against the limit of 19 workers at present.
The seven Acts that are added to the list include the Motor Transport Workers Act, 1961, the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965, the Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979, and the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996. It will allow firms to maintain returns filed on electronic media. The Apprentices Act (Amendment) Bill, which too relates to labour laws, was introduced in the House soon after. It will come up for discussion on Tuesday.
The Bill proposes changes to the Apprentices Act, 1961 to allow an establishment operating in four or more States to be regulated by the Central government so that those establishments may no longer have to approach various State governments for employing apprentices.