A REPORT ON PROTECTION OF RIGHTS OF UNORGANISED LABOURERS IN INDIA

     A REPORT ON PROTECTION OF RIGHTS OF UNORGANISED LABOURERS IN INDIA

Author: Preeti Selvam, St Rock College Of Law.

Abstract

As an unorganised worker play a pivotal role in society, so they need special attention. Most socially and economically deprived sections of the society are engaged in informal economic activities. The government realised the pivotal role performed by unorganised sector in the economy. Therefore, many legislations and schemes are initiated by the government for the benefit of unorganised workers. Further various social security measures provided by industrial units to their employees in the form of pension, provident fund and gratuity. Non-statutory benefits also provided to workers such as medical facilities, food, canteens etc

Definitions

There are various definitions given by different Commission and others. But here we will be discussing the most important definitions.According to the report of the National Commission on Labour in 1969.‘Unorganized workers’ are other groups of workers who are not covered under the definition and can organise in pursuit of a common goal due to force such as:-Casual nature of employment.

  1. Ignorance and illiteracy.
  2. Establishment of small size with the low capital invested per person employed.
  3. Scattered nature of establishments.
  4. Muscular strength of the employer operating either singly or in combination.

National Commission also gives some categories of workers, which can be categorised as unorganised workers, which are the following:

  • Contract-based worker and it also includes workers engaged in the construction work.
  • Informal(casual) labour.
  • Labour engaged in small industry.
  • Handloom/ power worm workers.
  • Beedi and cigar workers.
  • In terms of employment like construction workers, waiver, fisheries, workers of the paper mill, sawmill etc.
  • The labourers which are most in exploited-Head and shoulder loaders, scavengers, variety of labour works.
  • Labourers who are providing service-Hotel boy, Midwives, Air Hostesses, barber, masseur etc.
  • Low wages– Wages is only the factor for which any person/employer works. As the labourer is getting meagre wages. As there is the Minimum Wages Act defines the minimum wage, which needs to be paid to the worker, but the worker fails to get minimum wages. The Supreme Court of India ruled that employing workers at wage rates below the statutory minimum wage levels is considered as the forced labour and is the infringement of Article 23 of the Constitution of India even though economic compulsion might drive one to volunteer to work below the statutory minimum wage.

Problems faced by the workers

As being the weaker section of the society they face many challenges. They are as follows.

  • Low wages– Wages is only the factor for which any person/employer works. As the labourer is getting meagre wages. As there is the Minimum Wages Act defines the minimum wage, which needs to be paid to the worker, but the worker fails to get minimum wages. The Supreme Court of India ruled that employing workers at wage rates below the statutory minimum wage levels is considered as the forced labour and is the infringement of Article 23 of the Constitution of India even though economic compulsion might drive one to volunteer to work below the statutory minimum wage.
  • No Knowledge about Work Hazardous and Occupational Safety-The working conditions in the unorganised sector is the leading cause to have an adverse effect on the health conditions of workers. Concerning home workers, most of the studies reported that labourers suffer from health problems.
  • The health problems are mostly related to respiratory due to inhalation of the tobacco dust and body ache, or due to the peculiar posture that has to be maintained at all times of work. Unguarded machinery, various toxic chemical coal, dust lime, dust blaze, the raw material for synthetic generation leads to the death of many unorganised workers because the working conditions are more severe and knowledge of occupational health and safety is negligible.
  • Maximum workers are living in deplorable conditions:-They live in unsanitary conditions and likewise battle with sewer seepage framework overflowing drainage system, flooding and storms. They live in a slum area. The facilities such as washing, urinal, toilets facilities at work are found to be below standard. It could be said that no such facilities were provided to workers in the industries.
  • Extended Hours of Work:-Long hours of work in the unorganised sector beyond the labour and regulatory norms are standard in India. In the agricultural sector, there are no fixed hours of work as there are no laws to act as guidelines for the working conditions of agricultural labourers.
  • In the case of non-agricultural sectors such as fireworks, matchmaking, power looms and so on, workers started their work very early in the morning at 6:00 a.m and continue till the evening. In the handloom sector, the work is organised in such a way that wages were based on 12-15 hours of work per day.  A large number of workers and the labourers are illiterate and as a result, the employers exploit the labourer by forcing them to work for extra hours. Due to long working, social isolation of migrant workers, high level of unemployment, illiteracy and lack of awareness are the major hurdles in organising themselves.
  • No Knowledge About the Trade Union or Labour Union:-Not many but most are not aware of the existence of Trade Union and their rules. The primary purpose of the establishment of the Trade Union is to settle the dispute that may arise between the employer and employee. Trade Union means a Trade Union which is for the time registered under the Trade Unions Act,1926. Trade Union which can be analysed into the following ingredients.

Trade Union means any combination whether temporary or permanent made to regulate the relations between workmen and employer, workmen and workmen, employer and employees. While imposing restrictive conditions on the conduct of any trade or business. But this Act shall not affect.

  1. Any agreement between partners as to their business,
  2. Any agreement between an employer and those employed by him as to such employment,
  3. Any agreement in consideration of the sale of the goodwill of a business or instruction in any profession, trade or handicraft.
  4. High Level of insecurity is common-Social security means which provide amenities and assurance to the workers. For instance, the employment of the agricultural sector is irregular and unassured.  This is due to the availability of work to them only for about three months and remaining nine months, they are mostly unemployed and suffer from starvation.
  5. Seasonal Employment-The workers are employed as a seasonal employer. They are employed only for a particular season and remain unemployed during the remaining year. Employment is only for 3-4 months. In India Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Workers Employment Guarantee Act,2005aims to provide employment security by guaranteeing at least 100 days of work in the most backward districts of the country who can perform manually.
  6. Women and children are unprotected and get meagre wages: Article 39(d)  of Constitution of India talks about Equal pay for equal work means that all the person should get equal wages irrespective of their age, sex if they work for the same hours. The children are forced to work at hotels, dhaba for low wages.
  7. Children and women are paid low wages as compared to male despite working for the same hours. Children and female workers work as household labour at the house of the people living in the urban area.  Such child labourers are subject to long working hours and involved in the hazardous sectors such as carpet weaving, cloth printing, explosives and fireworks, cigarette making, printing and soldering process in electronic industries.
  8. Harassment issues at the workplace for women- Sexual Harassment is a big issue that occurs at the workplace. A safe workplace is women’s legal right, but it has been neglected. They still experience a wide range of physical and psychological ailments due to eve-teasing and sexual harassment. In spite of the Act that was enacted in the year 2013 still, the woman is being assaulted at their workplace.
  9. Vulnerable Labour Groups:-The study group on the construction of the First National Commission on Labour as well Second National Commission (2002) observed that on quarries, brick-kilns as well as in big construction sites a system of bondage exists and get extended from one generation to the next through labour.
  10. The bonded labour involves a debtor-creditor relationship in this system, the creditor advances loan to the labourer and put him in bondage until the loan is returned. The repayment of debt is so arranged that the servant cannot repay it during his lifetime before ensuring lifelong service for the master. It is this feature which differentiates bonded labour from unpaid forced labour.
  11. Insecurity due to natural disasters:-There are many natural disasters like floods, droughts, earthquakes, famine etc. which also have a devastating impact on the informal sectors. Natural disasters do not wipe out the productive base of the informal sector, but can also affect the limited household assets of the owner.

Conclusion                                                                                                                          

As many problems are faced by unorganised workers such as low wages, exploitation of workers, cruel conditions of workers etc. so the legislative system of India protects the rights of the unorganised workers with the help of various articles covered under the constitution of India.The Government of India took a step by enacted a legislation ‘Unorganized Social Security Act, 2008’ for providing underlying social security to the unorganised workers who work in an unorganised sector.

In pursuance of this Act, the Government of India has implemented numerous schemes such as AamAdmiBima Yojana(Life Insurance), old age pension scheme, RashtriyaSwasthyaBima Yojana (health insurance) etc.The Central Government, under the requisite section and the State Government under the specified section, have been empowered to make the rules for the smooth functioning.The Central Government has power under section 11 to give direction to the State Government and National Board for the proper implementation of the provisions of this Act.

Reference

http://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-3001-protection-of-rights-of-unorganized-workers.html

https://www.academia.edu/6343651/Rights_of_Unorganised_Labour

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