Labour is an important section of the general community which is manifestly distinct from the factor of production. The Labour class is concerned with the greatest interest of various agencies and organizations, and this class cannot be ignored in the development purpose in every sphere. Labour community evolved with the evolution of man’s history for the production of their means, food and shelter. At the early stage of society, it evolved with the complex social environment where they produce for themselves as well as for the society as a whole. There was no principle of ‘mine and thine’. But with the advent of time feelings of hatred developed, people got brutal, powerful groups started dominating weaker sections, society became uncivilized.
During British period, people were utilized as machinery into industrial units. Same conditions were into the agricultural sphere and other sectors. No regulations were set up to intervene between their matters. The dire need for establishment of organization or institution arose for the regulations of norms. As the need for industrial revolution arose labourers started demanding the labour law for them ,for better working conditions, adequate wages, basic health safeguards and prevention of their exploitation.
In India, the Labour community always strives for their basic needs and they are the most unprivileged community which is being unheard by the Government, which is very much important for their development. In the industrial units they always strive for higher wages and for that they follow the means of strikes and protests. Better working conditions where a proper ventilation system is fitted, establishment of unions for representing their interests and job security. And where there is trade union, interference of political parties are there , which means that union will not represent the Labour issues but to provide political support to the political parties.
Today, in Indian society, labourers are earning monthly below the prescribed minimum norms. And mostly workers are working beyond their working hours and still they are not determined about their job security. They work for a maximum time period but still get fired by the employees because they are illiterate and don’t have any written job contract or signed paper. They have to accept their requisite conditions for the fulfillment of their needs. They are not in the condition to negotiate about the job profile, timings and working norms. Workers are engaged in self employed works like farming and running their small shops and earning less than the prescribed standard set up by the Government.
According to the provisions of the law, prescribed standard timing for work is fixed for 8 hours per day. The labourers/workers are being utilized as machinery, where employees are taking work more than 8 hours a day. In urban areas the situation is much worse than rural areas because they are not much educated, easily accept the conditions of the employees as they are migrants.
Workers are not even paid extra for getting extra work from them. Other drastic conditions affecting women labourers are still prevailing. They are made to work equally with the men’s physical capacity but no extra payment is provided for that. Feeling of insecurity is another risk factor for women workers. They do not get any proof of experience certificate because of no written job contract.
Labour in light of the Pandemic:
Pandemic has shown the real face of the policies and programmes of the Government in the interest of the labour community. It was difficult for them to survive and their rights, interests were not protected. With the announcement of lock down, many enterprises, factories were closed due to which labourers were unemployed. They have started returning back to their hometown with their belongings. Many of them lost their lives due to hunger, many became targets of pandemic or other casualties. At present, workers are suffering with their right to life with dignity, which is a fundamental right of every citizen. They don’t have surety of their lives. Their only concern is to feed their family at least three times a day. They don’t have time to think about the future of their children, casting votes or fighting for their basic rights.
Our Indian Constitution , several landmark provisions relating to the rights of the labour community has been laid down by the prominent lawmakers. Fundamental rights include article 14, 19(1)(c), 23 which provides the right to equality, guarantees citizens to form trade and unions, and prohibits forced labour.
Directive principles which are guiding principles for the states to follow while enacting a law. Article 39(A) right to adequate means of livelihood without any discrimination. Article 39(d) provides state shall direct policy to secure equal pay for equal work. Article 41 right to work. Article 42 provides upliftment of working conditions. Article 43 provides living wages.
Apart from these Constitutional provisions, major enactments on labour, such as
- Minimum wages Act, 1948,
- Payment of wages Act, 1936 ,
- Trade Union Act, 1926,
- Industrial Dispute Act, 1947,
- Factories Act, 1948
has been enacted for the protection of interest and for the welfare purpose.
Labour community is essential which is serving various departments, organizations after getting ignored by the authorities. Development works are impossible without their presence and this community cannot be ignored. The Labour class is a very unprivileged community which stage protests at the last when every authority ignores them. They are severely maltreated by the authorities which lower down their self esteem. After several provisions and enactments, it is very much necessary to fulfill their basic requirements so that they can work effectively and become a part of development projects. It is extremely important to boost their morale for healthy production and also to protect their interests and prevent exploitation of labourers.
Yogesh Sharma, Labour Condition in India, Ex Gratia Law Journal, (March 7, 2021), https://exgratialawjournal.in/blawg/labour-law/labour-condition-in-india-by-yogesh-sharma/.