Labour laws hurting employment growth, need to be revisited: PM

Acknowledging that some labour laws had not yielded the desired results, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said there was a need to revisit some of them which had hurt the growth of employment.

Manmohan Singh “We have enacted several progressive labour laws since independence and some even before that. But it appears that not all these laws have had the intended good effects that we would like to see on the ground,” he said inaugurating the 43rd session of the Indian Labour Conference.

Singh said there was a need to consider the possible role of some of the labour laws in “contributing to rigidities in the labour market which hurt the growth of employment”.

“Is it possible that our best intentions for labour are not actually met by laws that sound progressive on paper but end up hurting the very workers they are meant to protect,” he said in his address to the delegates who included representatives from trade union, employees and employers.

The prime minister also said the government was making serious efforts to moderate the inflation rate. “We have difficulties but we shall overcome,” he said referring to the prices of essential commodities.

Noting that the government was keen on not only making growth faster but also more inclusive, he said: “There have been many successes in our initiatives for social and economic inclusion. But we need to do much more”.

Asserting that the government was committed to economic reforms with a “human face”, Singh said its ability to devote more resources for social welfare activities depended crucially on the ability to accelerate the pace of economic growth to 9 to 10 per cent a year.

Emphasising the need for the industry and labour to work together to remove the barriers for faster economic growth and employment, he said the regulatory framework in the labour sector should encourage investment in labour-intensive industries and also ensure welfare of workers.

“We should constantly introspect whether our policies are serving our goals. We should reflect upon possible flaws in our policies as well as ways to strengthen policy to withstand adverse circumstances,” he said.

Singh also advocated strengthening the micro and small enterprises sector, which had the second-largest share of employment after agriculture. He said it encompassed a wide range of economic activities and also helped check rural to urban migration by gainfully employing people in villages.

Singh also asked the private sector to participate actively for the success of skill development programmes initiated by the government.

The prime minister added the government had upgraded the ITIs into centres of excellence to provide multi-skill courses.



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