The Narendra Modi government introduced two labour law amendment Bills in the Lok Sabha on Thursday. It did so even as Opposition parties demanded members get sufficient time to go through these before their introduction. Union Minister for Labour and Employment Narendra Singh Tomar tabled the Factories Act (Amendment) Bill, 2014, and the Apprentices Act (Amendment) Bill, 2014, a week after these were cleared by the Cabinet. Normally, these have to be circulated to the members two days prior to the introduction of the Bill. However, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan allowed the minister to introduce the Bill by waiving this norm. Mallikarjun Kharge, leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, objected to this relaxation, saying this was “not an urgent matter”. “This is a comprehensive amendment and requires time…Without reading, if you give consent and bring it for consideration tomorrow, then it will be very difficult.
Therefore, I request you to withhold this,” he asked.
Kharge said the Bill should be circulated and introduced in the next session. Mahajan dismissed the plea and said as the Bill was only being introduced, members would get sufficient time for debate.
The amendments to the Factories Act seek to, among other things, increase the overtime limit to 100 hours for a worker in a quarter from the current 50 hours, relax the restrictions on night work for women in factories, and empower the central government to make rules, in consultation with state governments, on health and safety hazards.
The Apprentices Bill seeks to drop a provision in the law for arrest of employers for not adhering to the provisions. And, to allow companies to add new trades under the Act without the Centre's approval. It also seeks to provide apprenticeship training to non-engineering graduate and diploma holders, and allow employers to make their own policy for recruiting apprentices.