Representation to the Ministry of Labour about the Draft Bill.

To

Mr. S. C. Sharma, Deputy Director [IR (PL)],

Ministry of Labour and Employment,

New Delhi 110001 sc.sharma56@nic.in

Sub: The Small Factories (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Services) Bill, 2014
Ref: Note No. Z-13025/31/2014-IR (PL) dated 10.10.2014 of the Ministry of Labour and Employment.

Sir,

This refers to “The Small Factories (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Services) Bill, 2014”, intended to be made law.

Kindly drop your proposal to make that draft Bill as Law. That will convert our nation to be an uncivilized one once again. In the year 1922, when India was reluctant to enforce any of the labour welfare measures suggested by the International Labour Organisation, one member went on record saying that among the civilised countries, India was the only country where no social security measures was in existence. Immediately, the embarrassed Indian representatives gave an assurance that steps would be taken to enact legislation for insurance in respect of accidents. It was because of that commitment that the Workman’s Compensation Act came into existence in the year 1923.

Now your intention to exempt the factories from the applicability of even “The Employees’ Compensation Act, 1923” , as could be seen from Cl. 54 of the Bill, shows that your aim is to set the clock back to pre-1923 era. Can we, then, call ourselves a civilized nation?

The Law Commission of India in its report on Workman’s Compensation Act, 1923, had said, “It is an oft repeated slogan: ‘The cost of the product should bear the blood of the workman’. The objective may not have been realized fully. But, it gives us, in striking language, a clue to the governing principle of the Act, and its socio-economic importance”.

Now, by exempting the factories from the purview of even this Act, even the elementary protection that was given to the working population is going to be taken away.

The Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948 was brought into force immediately after independence in 1947, as part of a bouquet of labour welfare measures along with the Factories Act, 1948. It was the brainchild of Prof. Adharkar who modeled it on the report of Sir William Beveridge, whose report is still considered as the monumental document on social security. It provided a host of benefits both to the employer and the employees. It is a protective umbrella to the employer safeguarding him from huge unforeseen liabilities. It provides a security net to the employees so that their living conditions would not fall below certain standards.

The Hindu had also, in its editorial dated 01.01.2005, said, “The package (of benefits provided by the ESIC) can rarely be matched by private employers on their own because of the heavy costs involved – not to mention the disinclination among employers, with honorable exceptions, to operate health care systems for their workforce”.

None of the civilized nations who top the list in the Human Development Index follow the method proposed to be adopted by you, now, by making the important labour welfare enactments ineffective. We do not find Germany or Japan saying that they could improve their economy only by inviting foreign capital, selling the land to the foreigners by displacing the natives by alluring them of menial jobs, and then by closing down the factories within a short while and, thereby, making the natives refugees.

The draft Bill will make the working population of our nation to be virtual slaves. They will be squeezed by the ‘rich’ (the businessmen) and the ‘powerful’ (the politicians of the ruling party) and there will only be misery everywhere. The fact is that “The wealthiest nations do not have the healthiest people. Instead, it is countries with the smallest economic gap between the rich and poor”. (Mark Bourrie- Interpress Service – 23.07.1999).

There will be large scale migration of the working population resulting in loss of proper education to their wards and that lack of education will continue the vicious cycle of continued supply of slave labour. Our nation will not flourish as a mature democracy but will decay to become a society of medieval era. The charter of the International Labour Organisation of 1919 says that the peace and harmony of the world was imperiled, because the welfare of the working population was not taken care of.

While addressing businessmen, in the year 1945, after the Second World War, UK Minister Ernest Bevin stressed on the need for providing basic economic security to create fairer conditions of living for the working population also. “If profit can be the only motive, the natural corollary is economic disorder, and economic disorder will bring you back to the same position you are in now, ever recurring, and future generations will again pay, in the same form or another, the bitter price we are paying now…” he said.

The Declaration of Philadelphia of 1949 says that “Labour is not a Commodity” and it warns that “Poverty anywhere constitutes danger to prosperity anywhere”.

I, therefore, request you to kindly drop the ill-considered proposal to exempt the factories from the purview of the well-intentioned labour laws. The decision to re-classify the term ‘small factories’ as those employing 39 workmen and below (excluding the persons in the wings of administration, distribution, etc) shows the sadistic cleverness of the people who drafted the Bill. Dr. F. J. Foakes Jakson has said,

“It is no use trying to be clever – we are all clever here.

Just try to be kind – a little kind”

Please find attached two articles on the same issue published in the website ‘Flourishing ESIC’.

  1. Builders : Germans : : Sellers : Indians.

(https://flourishingesic.info/2014/10/14/builders-germans-sellers-indians-part-i/   )

  1. Opaque Party funds and Repressive Labour Laws.

(https://flourishingesic.info/2014/10/16/opaque-party-funds-repressive-new-labour-laws/ )

Yours faithfully,

Copy to Mr. Piyush Sharma, Consultant, MOL&E.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Representation to the Ministry of Labour about the Draft Bill.

  1. maragatha sundari

    Our economy will prosper on;y when the welfare of the working class is taken care. It is the duty of the Government to protect the working mass than to support the capitalist.

  2. “The standing committee headed by BJP MP Virender Kumar in its report has rejected the amendment’s proposal to empower state governments to enhance the threshold level of employment from 10 to 20 workers (in case of factories using power) and from 20 to 40 workers (for factories not using power) citing the reason that this will leave 70 percent of factory establishments in the country outside the purview of the Central Act dealing with health, safety and work conditions in factories. It has asked the central government to reconsider other changes proposed in the Bill related to work conditions as well. Officials, however, declined to specify details of the changes being considered.

    “..More than 70 percent of the factory establishments in the Country will be out of the coverage of the Factories Act and workers will be at the mercy of employers on every aspect of their service conditions, rights and protective provisions laid down under the Act..,” noted the committee in the 116-page report while rejecting the proposal to increase the threshold level of employment defined by the 1948 Act.

    The committee noted that the Bill’s proposal to amend section 56 of the Act to increase the spread over of the working hours from the existing 10.5 hours to 12 hours may lead to harrassment of workers. It has questioned the proposal to amend sections 64 and 65 of the Act relating to increase in overtime hours from the existing 50 hours per quarter to 100 hours, extendable by another 25 hours saying the government could instead make special provisions for increase in permissible overtime hours for factories catering to seasonal spikes in demand, as doing this across the board may “aggravate the unemployment problem.”

    While the Bill seeks to remove the definition of “hazardous process” in the Principal Act and substitute it with “hazardous substance”, the committee has stated that there may be hazardous processes in certain industries where substance is not always involved and thus instead, the government should review the list of hazardous industries from time to time.

    “Instead of implementing thye law better, several of the amendments legalise what is going on given the lack of implementation. The committee unanimously rejected the proposal to increase the threshold level and it has asked the government to revisit the other clauses on overtime, on spreadover of work,” said Rajya Sabha MP Tapan Sen, a member of the standing committee.

    The central trade unions have alleged that after Dr. Narendra Jhadav, the then member of the Planning Commission and member of a three-member committee on the proposed amendment, held discussions with the unions on January 19, 2011, February 10, 2011 and March 31, 2011, no fresh consultations were held on the Bill introduced in August 2014. This amounted to violation of the International Labour Organization Conventions No.144 on Tripartism, which has been ratified by the union government, they alleged.”

    http://www.thehindu.com/business/Industry/factories-act-amendment-bill-being-revised/article6834598.ece?css=print

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