ROLE OF NGO – ISSUES FACED
09/10/2019
DISCUSS THE IMPORTANCE OF THE CONSTITUTION (108TH) AMENDMENT BILL TO RESERVE FOR WOMEN ONE-THIRD OF SEATS IN PARLIAMENT AND THE STATE LEGISLATURES AND WHY IS THERE OPPOSITION TO PASSING THIS BILL?
09/12/2019

THE NEWS: 

Four killed in major fire at ONGC's gas-processing facility in Mumbai.Major industrial accidents point to the need for a stronger worker safety law

Background:

  • India’s record in promoting occupational and industrial safety remains weak even with years of robust economic growth.
  • Making work environments safer is a low priority, although the productivity benefits of such investments have always been clear.
  • The consequences are frequently seen in the form of a large number of fatalities and injuries, but in a market that has a steady supply of labour, policymakers tend to ignore the wider impact of such losses.
  • A tragedy killed nearly two dozen people at a firecracker factory in Batala, Punjab.
  • Such incidents make it imperative that the Central government abandon its reductionist approach to the challenge, and engage in serious reform.
  • There is not much evidence, however, of progressive moves.

WAY FORWARD:

  • The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2019, introduced in the Lok Sabha in July to combine 13 existing laws relating to mines, factories, dock workers, building and construction, transport workers, inter-State migrant labour.
  • One of its major shortcomings is that formation of safety committees and appointment of safety officers, the latter in the case of establishments with 500 workers, is left to the discretion of State governments.
  • The Factories Act currently mandates appointment of a bipartite committee in units that employ hazardous processes or substances, with exemptions being the exception. This provision clearly requires retention in the new Code.
  • A safe work environment is a basic right, and India’s recent decades of high growth should have ushered in a framework of guarantees.
  • India has not ratified many fundamental conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO) covering organised and unorganised sector workers’ safety, including the Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 1981.
  • It is essential, therefore, that the new Code go back to the drawing board for careful scrutiny by experienced parliamentarians, aided by fresh inputs from employees, employers and experts.
  • Industries that use hazardous processes and chemicals deserve particular attention, and the Code must have clear definitions, specifying limits of exposure for workers. Compromising on safety can lead to extreme consequences that go beyond factories, and leave something that is etched in the nation’s memory as in the case of the Bhopal gas disaster.

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