Protection of labour wages during the pandemic

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Photo by Safal Karki on Unsplash

India is known for its Human Capital, i.e. skilled and unskilled population. Labour force participation rate is expected to be around 50% as per Trading Economics Global Macro Models. Recent migrant crisis during Pandemic-Covid 19 reflects the inefficiencies of formal and informal sectors to face a disaster. This pandemic has affected the labour workforce drastically, the Government has to be inclusive about its minimum wages act 1948, as this act is not legally binding in nature and not applicable for unorganized sector labour. Migrant labours have low social capital but a strong social network.

This Pandemic has exposed us to the vulnerability faced by workers in a country like India and also reflected state governments reaction to minimum wage policy. Labour code on wages act, enacted in August 2019 has diluted critical provisions of previous legislation (Nivedita, 2019). Faulty implementation of the wages act and not considering a large number of unorganized sector labour or informal labour is a major challenge. While determining minimum wage based on skills is highly vulnerable to lobbying by officials. The policies must be inclusive in the context of the region and working capacity of labour which will affect their livelihood and overall economy of the country. Protection of labour wages during a pandemic should be addressed with the inclusion of labour unions and government agencies in the formulation of policy with a strong enforcement mechanism. In states of India- such as Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh approximately 14 labour laws including minimum wages act are being suspended for three years in an attempt to draw capital (Arun, 2020)

Combining Minimum wage act, 1948; The Payment of wages act, 1936; The Equal Remuneration act, 1976; Payment of Bonus act, 1965 is not a way forward to deal with pandemic labour crisis. Labours are the pillars of growth in developing country like India. Reforms are required for wage security in India. The struggle of more than a million migrants walking on foot to their hometown is more of a governance issue. Inclusive policy and social justice should be addressed in the long-term. Direct Benefit Transfer can provide short-term relief to labours or workforce who has lost their occupation due to pandemic.

Sectoral analysis as a way forward to deal with labour laws, there is a strong need for SOCIAL PROTECTION PROGRAM considering financial and health conditions of the labour force. Labour forces are major builders of Modern India. Protection of wage policies of a developed country such as the USA should be considered for providing labour security. I recommend comprehensive labour policy and revival of economy to protect labour interest in India.

Contributed By- Manish Bhatt, Content Writer Mitti Ke Rang

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