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Labour Law Reforms for Sustainable Development

Essay by   •  January 8, 2019  •  Research Paper  •  2,743 Words (11 Pages)  •  55 Views

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Term Paper

Labour Law Reforms for Sustainable Development

Rya Ray

PGDM in Human Resource Management

XISS, Ranchi

(Roll Number- 59)


Purpose

This paper shall attempt to discuss and analyze the different labour law reforms that have been brought about to help achieve and augment sustainable development. This paper begins by defining sustainable development and outlining the 17 sustainability goals adopted by the United Nations. These goals seek to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all. This paper shall then outline and discuss the labour law reforms that have taken place in the purview of sustainable development. Subsequently, the paper shall provide recommendations about the existing laws that need reform and reforms that could be fine tuned for the better.

Sustainable Development

According to the Brundtland Report, published by the United Nation World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), in 1987,

"Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It contains within it two key concepts:

  • the concept of needs, in particular the essential needs of the world's poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and
  • the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment's ability to meet present and future needs."

Sustainable development can be understood structurally by looking at its three pillars that consist in: economic development, social equity and environmental protection. Each pillar tends to reinforce the other and the relationships among them are rather pluralistic. Labour law reforms are the key to changes that can drive sustainable development across the three pillars.

Sustainable Development Goals

On 25th September, 2015, countries adopted a set of 17 goals as outlined below:

  1. No poverty
  2. Zero hunger
  3. Good health and well-being
  4. Quality education
  5. Gender Equality
  6. Clean water and sanitation
  7. Affordable and clean energy
  8. Decent work and economic growth
  9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure
  10. Reduced inequalities
  11. Sustainable cities and communities
  12. Responsible consumption and production
  13. Climate action
  14. Life below water
  15. Life on land
  16. Peace, justice and strong institutions
  17. Partnerships for the goals.

These goals, in order to be of impact, need to be met by a commensurate reform in labour laws, by bringing about a balance between economic interests with socio-cultural rights. Societies have often shaped into highly consumerist ones, which has driven making conditions more and more favorable for production and consumption, while jeopardizing the precarity of employees and other stakeholders and the corrosion of resources, among several other things. Sustainable development and entailing labour law reforms seek to check be this and try to be fair and just to the present and future generations.

Reforms to Fight Poverty

Pertaining to the SDGs related to poverty alleviation, the following targets were drawn up:

1. A.: Reduce by half the proportion of people living on less than $1 a day.

1. B.: Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people.

1. C.: Reduce by half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.

According to the figures, India achieved target 1.A. way before its stipulated time, in both urban and rural areas. The poverty gap has been narrowed in both urban and rural areas during 2004-2012. The Government of India has implemented several programmes to check and improve the quality of life in rural areas by generating employment, developing rural infrastructure and providing other basic amenities.

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) which came into effect on 2 February 2006 could be considered as one of the best practices of the Government of India to reduce poverty. This act guarantees minimum 100 days of employment to any adult who is seeking employment, in a rural area. However, the funds allocated towards this act had been declining during the recent years. Paying attention to this, the budget for 2017 has seen the highest ever allocation for MNREGA.

It should be understood that the concept of poverty is a broad one. Poverty is often met with an income-based treatment, which measures poverty against an invariant poverty line. This oversimplification misleads the identification, treatment and evaluation of poverty. Poverty is more specific, and needs to be looked at from refined perspectives like gender-based poverty.

Another important act pertaining to this is the Corporate Social Responsibility under the Indian Companies Act, 2013, which mandates the private sector to make socially responsible investments worth 2% of their three-year average annual net profit.

Reforms to Fight Hunger

India is faced with severe issues of calorie deprivation in the recent years. The extent of it has grown from 69% to 85% in rural India and from 60% to 65% in urban India. The indicators for ending hunger focus on energy intake and food security while the proposed indicators for malnutrition measure stunting and obesity for children measuring the so-called double burden of under-nutrition and over-nutrition. To counter and help check these facts, the government of India has come up with certain measures like those under the Minimum Wages Act and the Agricultural Produce Market Committee Act.

Under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, minimum wage rates are fixed differently for different kinds and classes of scheduled employments, different age groups and different localities. These minimum wages are fixed to ensure that the efficiency of the workers is preserved keeping in mind the sustenance levels and there is no exploitation in cases where due to rampant unemployment, an employer can find people who are willing to work for any amount even below this prescribed limit. The wages are fixed keeping in mind the calorie intake needed, among several other factors. As a result, this checks the problem of hunger to a certain extent. The Government is deliberating amendments in this act. A notification has been published for providing minimum Rs. 10,000 to contract wage workers, who as a community have faced a lot of threats as the emphasis on a contingent workforce has grown over the past few years.

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