The subject of Labour is placed in the Concurrent List of the Constitution of India, which empowers both Central and State Governments to make laws on various labour matters. With globalization and Liberalization there had been many changes in the socio - economic conditions throughout the World. The open trade policy warranted the Labour laws to be updated to match with the changing needs. All the Labour enactments are of immense value to the nation as they have a direct bearing with the common man because Indian industries till date are manpower intensive and Workers are the most important asset/backbone of the Country whose interest cannot be compromised at any cost. The Central Labour Laws administered by the IR Division are as under:-
(1) Industrial Disputes Act, 1947
(2) The Trade Unions Act, 1926
(3) The Plantations Labour Act, 1951
(4) The Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946
(5) The Weekly Holidays Act, 1942
Besides handling the above mentioned Central Acts, the following State Acts are also examined in the Ministry to ensure whether the amendments proposed by the states are Constitutionally valid; whether there is any conflict with any existing Central Law, and, if so, whether the conflict may be consciously permitted; and whether the proposed State enactments involve any deviation from existing national or Central policy to its detriment, or would be hindrance to enactment of uniform laws for the country.
(1) The Shops & Establishments Act.
(2) The National & Festival Holidays Act.
THE INDUSTRIAL DISPUTES ACT, 1947
The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 came into existence in April 1947. It was enacted to make provisions for prevention and settlement of industrial disputes and for providing certain safeguards to the workers. Under this Act, authorities like Conciliation Officers, Courts of Inquiries, reference of disputes to Boards, Court and Tribunals, powers and duties of authorities, prohibition of strikes and lockouts, penalties for contravention of the provisions of the Act etc. are incorporated.
The Act contains 40 Sections divided into 7 Chapters, as under:-
Chapter-I deals with the title, definitions, etc.
Chapter-II contains Works Committee in an industrial establishment in which one hundred or more workmen are employed consisting of representatives of employers and workmen engaged in the establishment. The main purpose of the Works Committee to promote measures for securing and preserving amity and good relations between the employer and workmen and, to that end, to comment upon matters of their common interest or concern and endeavor to compose any material difference of opinion in respect of such matters. This Chapter also provides for various authorities such as Conciliation Officers, Labour Courts and Tribunals.
Chapter –III contains the main scheme of the Act such as reference of disputes to labour Courts and Industrial Tribunals.
Chapter-IV lays down the procedure, power and duties of the authorities constituted under the Act.
Chapter V contains provisions to prohibit strikes and lock-outs, declaration of strikes and lock-outs illegal, and provisions relating to lay-off and retrenchment and closure which are applicable to establishments employing 100 and more workers.
Chapter VI contains provisions of various penalties under the Act.
Chapter VII contains miscellaneous provisions.
THE INDUSTRIAL DISPUTES (AMENDMENT) ACT, 2010.'THE INDUSTRIAL DISPUTES (AMENDMENT) ACT, 2010.
The Government has amended the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 vide the Industrial Disputes (Amendment) Act, 2010. The Act has been amended after a series of tri-partite consultations inter alia to do away with the ambiguity in the definition of Appropriate Government and series of Judgments of the Apex Court interpreting the definition differently. The amended provisions have come into force vide Notification No.2278 (E) dated 15.9.2010. The amended Act provides for the following:
- The definition of term ‘appropriate Government’ has been amplified which will eliminate all ambiguities in the interpretation of the definition of ‘appropriate Government’.
- Wage ceiling of the workers working in a supervisory capacity has been enhanced from one thousand six hundred rupees per month to ten thousand rupees per month. The wage ceiling has been enhanced to be in consonance with the increase in wages of industrial workers and also to bring about parity with other labour laws like Employees State Insurance Act, 1948, Payment of Bonus Act, 1965 and Payment of Wages Act, 1936.
- The amended Act provide direct access for the workman to the Labour Court or Tribunal in case of disputes arising out of Section 2-A pertaining to retrenchment, discharge, dismissal or termination of services etc. Before the present amendment, such a dispute could be adjudicated by CGIT-cum LC only after a reference is made by the ‘appropriate Government’. As a consequence of this amendment, the workman can directly approach the CGIT-cum-LC after filing his grievance before the conciliation machinery to resolve the issue within 45 days if the conciliation machinery fails to resolve the issue. There will be no need for him to approach the ‘appropriate Government’ for making a reference. This amendment has enabled the aggrieved workman to choose the alternative of adjudication for resolution of his dispute faster.
- The amended Act provides to establish a Grievance Redressal Machinery (GRM) within industrial establishment having 20 or more workmen with one stage appeal at the head of the establishment for resolution of disputes arising out of individual grievances. With this amendment, the workman will get one more alternative grievance redressal mechanism for the resolution of his dispute within the organization itself with minimum necessity for adjudication. The concept of GRM will in no way affect the right of the workman to raise dispute on the same issue under the provision of Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.
- The amended Act also provides to expand the scope of qualification of Presiding Officers of CGIT-cum-LC by making officers of Central Labour Service of the rank of Deputy Chief Labour Commissioner and State Labour Department of the rank of Joint Labour Commissioner and officers of the Indian Legal Service Gr.III eligible for the post of Presiding Officer in CGIT-cum-LC. This will enable the Government to appoint the Presiding Officers from wide range of eligible officers from the relevant field.
- The amended Act also provides to empower the Labour Court or Tribunal to execute their awards, orders of settlements arrived at as a decree of a Civil Court. This amendment will ensure better enforcement of the awards given by CGITs-cum-LC.
- The amended Act empowers the Government to make rules to decide and review the salaries and allowances and other terms and conditions for appointment of Presiding Officers.
DECLARATION OF PUBLIC UTILITY SERVICE UNDER SECTION 2(N)(VI) OF INDUSTRIAL DISPUTES ACT, 1947.
As per Section 2(n) (vi) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, the ‘appropriate Government’ may declare any industry specified in the first Schedule of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 to be a public utility service for a period of six months by issuing a Notification in the Official Gazette which may extend from time to time for any period not exceeding six months if in the opinion of the appropriate Government public emergency or public interest requires extension.
IR(PL) Section examines requests received from the concerned administrative Ministry for declaration of Public Utility Services to Industries specified in the first Schedule and otherwise and wherever the Ministry feels that the same needs to be granted, Notifications are issued.
THE TRADE UNIONS ACT, 1926
The Trade Unions Act, 1926 provides for registration of trade unions of employers and workers and in certain respects, it defines the law relating to registered trade unions. It confers legal and corporate status on registered trade unions.
Ministry of Labour & Employment has delegated the functions of the Central Government under the Trade Unions Act, 1926 to the State Governments. Hence the Act is administered by the concerned State Governments.
The Trade Unions (Amendment) Bill, 2001 was passed by the Parliament and the provisions of Trade Unions (Amendment) Act, 2001 have been enforced w.e.f. 9.1.2002. The thrust of the amendment is on reducing multiplicity of trade unions, orderly growth of trade unions and promoting internal democracy.
The amendments in this Act, in brief, are as under:
(i) No trade union of workmen shall be registered unless at least 10% or 100, whichever is less, subject to a minimum of 7 workmen engaged or employed in the establishment or industry with which it is connected are the members of such trade union on the date of making of application for registration.
(ii) A registered trade union of workmen shall at all times continue to have not less than 10% or 100 of the workmen, whichever is less, subject to a minimum of 7 persons engaged or employed in the establishment or industry with which it is connected, as its members.
(iii) A provision for filing an appeal before the Industrial Tribunal /Labour Court in case of non-registration/ restoration of registration has been provided.
(iv) All office bearers of a registered trade union, except not more than one-third of the total number of office bearers or five, whichever is less, shall be persons actually engaged or employed in the establishment or industry with which the trade union is connected.
(v) Minimum rate of subscription by members of the trade union is fixed at one rupee per annum for rural workers, three rupees per annum for workers in other unorganized sectors and 12 rupees per annum in all other cases.
(vi) For the promotion of civil and political interest of its members unions are authorized to set up separate political funds.
THE PLANTATION LABOUR ACT, 1951
- The Plantation Labour Act, 1951 provides for the welfare of plantation labour and regulates the conditions of work in plantations.
- The Act is administered by the State Governments and is applied to any land used as plantations which measures 5 hectares or more in which 15 or more persons are working. The State Governments are however, free to declare any plantation land less than 5 hectares or less than 15 persons to be covered by the Act. It applies to all the plantation workers whose monthly wages does not exceed Rs.750.00 per month.
- In every Plantation covered under the Act medical facilities for the workers and their families are to be made readily available as may be prescribed by the State Government.
- The Act provides for setting up of canteens, creches, recreational facilities suitable accommodation and educational facilities for the benefit of plantation workers in and around the work places in the plantation estate.
- The Act provides that no adult workers and adolescent or child shall be employed for more than 48 hours and 27 hours respectively a week, and every worker is entitled for a day of rest in every period of 7 days.
THE PLANTATIONS LABOUR (AMENDMENT) ACT, 2010
The Plantations Labour Act, 1951 was amended vide Plantations Labour (Amendment) Act, 2010. The amended provisions have come into force vide Notification No.1303(E) dated 7.6.2010. The amended Act inter alia provides for:
- Definition of ‘employer’ has been made broad-based so as to fix the responsibility on the Directors, Partners, Lessee or the Officers of the Government entrusted with the management of the plantation.
- Definition of ‘family’ has been made gender neutral to remove the distinction between the family of a male and the female worker for availing dependent’s benefits.
- The scope of definition of ‘worker’ has been enlarged by enhancing wage ceiling from Rs.750/- to Rs.10,000/- per month. Contract workers who have worked more than 60 days in a year have also been included within the ambit of the Act. With this, such worker will also be able to avail the benefits as provided in the PLA, 1951.
- The amended Act provides for a new chapter IV-A to cover all aspects of safety and occupational health of workers working in the plantations. This chapter includes provisions with regard to safeguards to be adopted in the use and handling of agro-chemicals, especially insecticides, pesticides and herbicides.
- The amended Act will also provide for prohibition of employment of children below 14 years.
- The amended Act enjoins upon the State Government to provide medical facilities and recover the costs thereof from the defaulting employer. Now, the State Government will have the power and responsibility to provide for adequate medical facilities for the workers and their families in case of default by employers and recover the cost from them.
- A new Section 32-C has also been inserted in the Act to prescribe the manner in which compensation in case of accident shall be registered by the employer with the Commissioner in terms of the Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923. The Amendment Bill seeks to make penal provisions more stringent for effective implementation of the Plantations Labour Act, 1951.
- The amended Act also makes provisions for any worker, an office bearer of the trade union of which such worker is a member, for filing a complaint regarding the commission of an offence under this Act with a provision for providing immunity to the complainant.
- The penal provisions for non-compliance with the provisions of the Act also have been made more stringent for ensuring the effective implementation of the Act.
THE INDUSTRIAL EMPLOYMENT (STANDING ORDERS) ACT, 1946.
The Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946 contains a general provision requiring employers in the industrial establishments to define terms and conditions of the employment under them and to make such terms and conditions known to the workman employed by them for which they have to get the Standing Orders certified which should be in conformity with the Model Standing Order. It applies to every industrial establishment wherein one hundred or more workmen are employed or were employed on any day of the preceding twelve months viz. (i) industrial establishments as defined in Section 2(ii) of the Payment of Wages Act, 1936; (ii) Factories; (iii) Railways; (iv) establishment of a person who, for the purpose of fulfilling a contract with the owner of any industrial establishments, employs workmen. Government is competent to extend the Act to other classes of industrial establishments or to grant exemption where necessary.
Ministry has amended the paragraph 14 of the Schedule 1 and para 17 of Schedule 1(A) of the Industrial Disputes (Standing Orders) Rules, 1946 vide Notification G.S.R. 25(E) dated 19.1.2006 in compliance with the directions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court has included ‘Sexual Harassment” as a misconduct.