The conference will be held for the first time in over two years
New Delhi, July 6, 2015 Last Updated at 00:28 IST, In a bid to bring trade unions on board the government's key labour law reforms, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to address the inauguration session of the Indian Labour Conference (ILC) on July 20 - a day ahead of the start of the coming Parliament session.
"It has been decided to hold the 46th session of the ILC on July 20 and 21. The Prime Minister is expected to inaugurate the event," said a senior labour ministry official, on condition of anonymity.
The agenda of the ILC will be decided by the standing labour committee (SLC), which will likely meet on July 10, sources said. Both the ILC and the SLC will be chaired by Union Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya. Often termed as the "Labour Parliament" of the country, the ILC will be held for the first time in over two years. It will be attended by the state labour ministers, representatives of the central trade unions, employers and Union government officials.
Although the standing labour committee had met in January 2014 to finalise the agenda of the 46th session of the ILC, however, the national conference couldn't be convened as there was a change of guard at the Centre.
The decision to hold the ILC assumes importance as the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government had proposed a slew of labour law proposals recently, which were strongly opposed by the trade unions. In fact, the central trade unions are likely to go on national strike on September 2.
It is expected that the controversial changes to the Industrial Disputes Act and easing norms for hiring contract workers may be discussed during the national conference, which might create uproar among the trade unions.
In the 38th session of the ILC, inaugurated by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in September 2002, when the report of the second national commission on labour was taken up for the first time, the trade unions had launched strong protests. The recommendations of the commission had called for integration of labour laws into various codes and some also called for easing retrenchment norms and bringing a separate law for small factories.
The NDA government is currently in the process of implementing some of these recommendations.
The ILC will also likely review the implementation of the recommendations of the previous labour conferences; discuss the social security of workers, and measures to increase employment and employability.
The Union labour ministry has lined up key labour law Bills to be likely introduced in the monsoon session of Parliament. The Factories (Amendment) Bill and the Child Labour (Amendment) Bill will be on the priority list of the Union government. While the proposed child labour amendments have been cleared by the Union Cabinet, the Factories Bill has been referred to a Parliamentary Standing Committee after it was introduced in the Parliament last year. The Bill on child labour will allow children below 14 years of age to work for family businesses and as a child artist after school hours and put a complete ban on all the other occupations. The Factories Bill seeks to relax norms for women working in night shifts, increase overtime limit and ease penalties for employers.
The Small Factories Bill, which will exclude firms with up to 40 workers from the ambit of key labour laws, will soon be sent for Cabinet approval. The trade unions complain 70 per cent of the workforce in the country will be thrown out of basic protection provided by the labour laws. Sources said the draft Cabinet note on the wage code has been circulated for inter-ministerial consultation.
The proposed amendments to the Employees Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act are also ready to be sent for Cabinet approval, sources said. The Union government has proposed the coverage of EPF Act on establishments with 10 workers. At present, provident fund is mandatory in establishments hiring 20 people or more, and employees and employers contribute 12 per cent each of a worker's salary.