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

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Second NLC: Labour in an Economy in Transition

The second National Commission on Labour has to tackle labourmanagement problems of a transitional economy, and do this in the face of scepticism that anything will come of its efforts. A review of the first six months of functioning and questions to be addressed.

In October 1999, the government of India set up the second National Commission on Labour, in response to a demand made by the trade unions in the Indian Labour Commission. The establishment of the second NCL raises both cynicism and hope. Cynicism because in the past, the reports of several committees and commissions have gathered dust. Governments are happy enough to set up commissions, but fail to act on their recommendations. If things remain not just what they had been but become worse, the blame should go not to the content of the commissions’ reports, but the intent (or the lack of it) of the governments which appoint them. If there is still hope, it is because of the heightened sense of expectations concerning the new economy in the new millennium.

In 1931 the Royal Commission on Labour inquired into the conditions of labour and submitted its report. In independent India, the first National Commission on Labour was established in 1966, which submitted its report in 1969. Several of its recommendations are relevant even in the first decade of the 21st century. One of the working groups on rationalisation of labour laws set up by the first NCL in 1966 submitted its report in 1968. The National Labour Law Association prepared a Draft Labour Code in 1994. The steering committee, which prepared the Draft Labour Code, comprised representatives from all social partners and academics and deliberated the subject for over four years. Still the report fails to evoke a consensus, though it serves as a useful first level simplification and rationalisation of the plethora of labour laws in the country.

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