Those supporting the current changes in laws, claim that the stringent labour laws are responsible for the poor working conditions, rise of informality and precarious earnings of the workers. It is claimed that the laws that seek to regulate minimum wages, payment of wages, occupational safety, industrial disputes, contract labour, employment and service conditions of interstate migrants, etc, are not only onerous, they make the cost of hiring the workforce under a formal set-up too high. To compensate for this disincentive, the employers either do not employ enough workers or employ workers through mechanisms that ensure that the bulk of them do not fall within the ambit of law. Those who are not in favour of these changes argue that the three new labour bills passed by Parliament without discussion making sweeping changes to the labour laws that will result in disempowering labour. These changes reduce the regulatory powers of the government and hand over oversight functions to third parties. In the land of Bhagat Singh, Gandhi and Ambedkar the new found national identity is to make India the most favoured destination for global investors. Will the takeover of labour rights help?
Atul Sood teaches at the Centre for the Study of Regional Development, Jawaharlal Nehru University New Delhi and has been a Professor at the Centre since 2007. He has more then three decades of teaching and research experience at various institutions in India and abroad. Dr Sood’s edited volume Poverty Amidst Prosperity: Essays on the Trajectory of Development in Gujarat elicited wide critical discussion. He has also co-authored, Punjab Crisis: Context and Trends (1984). In recent years, he has written on the politics of growth in India, the political economy of green growth in India, the changing capital labour relations in India, demonetization and its moral economy, labouring lives amid the lockdown and labour laws. His core research interest is to understand development policy and its outcomes in contemporary India.