a) The Lok Sabha, on Tuesday, passed three new labour codes – the Industrial Relations Code Bill, 2020, Code on Social Security Bill, 2020 and the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code Bill, 2020 – as the government seeks to amalgamate 44 central labour Acts into four codes, towards simplifying India's labour laws, and improve ease of doing business. The Code on Wages, which had proposed the universalization of minimum wages, was cleared by Parliament last year.
b) With the Industrial Relations Code Bill, the government has sought to amend the definition of 'strike' to bring 'mass casual leave' under its ambit. Under the IR code, if over 50 per cent of a company's workers take concerted casual leave, it will be treated as a strike.
c) More importantly though, the code also seeks to restrict the rights of workers to strike. As per its reading, a worker cannot go on strike without providing, at least, a 60-day notice, and not while proceedings before a Tribunal or a National Industrial Tribunal are taking place. Following the conclusion of these proceedings, workers are disallowed from going on strike for a period of 60 days. The code has been expanded to cover all industrial establishments.
d) The IR code also allows companies with up to 300 workers to fire workers without having to gain government approval. Currently, only industrial establishments with under 100 workers are allowed to do so.
e) It also raises the threshold for the requirement of a standing order to 300 workers. Industrial establishments with 300 or fewer workers will no longer be required to furnish a standing order. Labour experts have noted that such a provision may enable companies to introduce arbitrary service conditions for their workers.
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