ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Building Workers under the New Labour Codes

In October 2020, the Bharatiya Janata Party-controlled Parliament had, in a tearing hurry, passed the remaining three labour codes— the Industrial Relations Code, Code on Social Security, and Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code. The versions of these codes tabled before the Parliament were never put out in the public domain for comments. The codes were passed within a day through the Lok Sabha without proper debate, and the next day, they were introduced and passed as the opposition boycotted the Rajya Sabha. With this, many labour law legislations, rights, and protections stand undone in the name of a mere consolidation exercise. This article attempts to scrutinise how the Social Security Code and the Occupation Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code could affect the lives and rights of workers in the construction industry.

The Code on Social Security (SS), 2020 and the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions (OSH) Code, 2020 now stand notified by the central government. Once they are brought into force, it would mean a death knell to the Building and Other Construction Workers’ (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) (BOCW) Act, 1996 and the companion legislation, Building and Other Construction Workers Cess Act, 1996 (cess act). The BOCW Act is a remarkable legislation. It is a rare central legislation that not only carves out the rights and measures for regulating working conditions for the construction workers, but also provides the financial stimulus in the form of a cess to fund the welfare schemes. The OSH and SS Codes retain these basic ingredients of the BOCW Act, and in fact, envisage a similar cess-funded welfare board for the gig and platform workers. The BOCW Act is also the welfare legislation that governs the working conditions and terms of employment for the largest section of the unorganised workforce in urban India.

Lack of a Uniform Regime

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Updated On : 4th Feb, 2022
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