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Whither protection? 88% Gujarat employees without job contract, 67% sans paid leave

By Rajiv Shah 
Amidst apprehensions that the Government of India’s new labour codes, tabled in Parliament recently, are driven by the interests of the industry in order to “alter” the labour protection landscape in India “beyond repair and reclaim”, facts have come to light suggesting that “model” Gujarat has been one of the worst states in the country as far as providing any form of protection to its workers is concerned.
Published by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India, a recent report, “Annual Report: Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS)”, has found that 87.7% of Gujarat wage or salaried employees in the non-agricultural sector work “without job contract”, which is the second highest among 21 major states, next to Karnataka (94.2%).
Based on a survey carried out across India between July 2017and June 2018, the report has also found that Gujarat’s 66.8% workers in the same category are “not eligible for paid leave”, which is again the second highest in India, next only to Rajasthan (68.4%), and the state’s 55.9% workers do not get “any social security benefit”, which is fifth worst following Andhra Pradesh (62.7%), Rajasthan (61.1%), Punjab (60.8%) and West Bengal (59.2%).
Combining all the three ingredients, the survey has further found that as for “workers not eligible for paid leave, without written job contract and without any social security benefit”, Gujarat is the fourth worst (47.3%), following Rajasthan (54.3%), Punjab (52.2%) and Andhra Pradesh (51.9%). The national average is 38%. 
The inter-state comparative figures come amidst Gujarat government claims that it has been following the International Labour Organization (ILO) guidelines in order to “protect” workers from exploitation, one reason why it has refused to accept the exit policy, allowing industry to retrench workers at will, as suggested by the Government of India.
Through a labour law amendment, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not only given powers to the government to prohibit strikes in public utility services – where increasing number of persons are being appointed on contract – it has scaled down the period a worker could fight a case against the industry.
Under the amended law, an industrial worker now gets only a year to make an application against his dismissal, discharge, etc., raising an "industrial dispute" to the labour court or tribunal, as against the earlier window of three years. Further, the state has allowed industrial units in special economic zones (SEZs) to lay off workers without government’s sanction, which is seen as a precursor of things to come in Gujarat.
The failure to provide workers’ protection in Gujarat, significantly, is coupled with the same Government of India report pointing out that the per month average wages or salary earnings for regular employees in Gujarat during April-June 2018 was Rs 14,528.24, which is lower than all major 21 states with the sole exception of West Bengal (Rs 11,978.99).
The all-India average for lack of protection to its workers is, no doubt, poor, but not as bad as the one finds in Gujarat. Thus, as against Gujarat’s 87.7%, the report says, in India, among regular wage/salaried employees in the non-agriculture sector, 71.1 per cent do no have a written job contract.
Further, as against Gujarat’s 66.8%, the report states, 54.2% in workers in the same category across India are found to be not eligible for paid leave. And, as against Gujarat’s 55.9%, in India, 49.6% workers are found to be not eligible for any social security benefit.
The authoritative survey, even as seeking to ascertain the duration of the written contract or agreement with the employer, including the date of termination, if any, in all Indian states, says, “However, if no written contract existed, then irrespective of the duration of employment, it was considered as no written job contract.”
For the ascertaining whether employees were eligible to get paid leave, the report takes into account paid leave “during sickness, maternity, or such leave, as an employee was eligible to take without loss of pay, as per the conditions of employment.”
And as for ascertaining whether employees are covered under any of the specified social security benefits or a combination of them arranged by the employer, the survey seeks details of whether contribution has been made by the employer towards provident fund, pension, gratuity, health care, maternity benefits.
It states, “Those who were not covered under any of the above social security schemes were considered as not eligible for any social security benefits.”

Comments

Anonymous said…
What is important a growth with wealth or a standstill where no generation of wealth and employment and people live a life of poor. Entrepreneurs restrict the number of workers within limit so that they remain out of the net of the labour laws and improve efficiency of the unit by keeping industrious force and become competitive. Ultimately he is taking all the risk of the business and if workers with the legal protection come as extra burden he will die. Many such units closed down and there is demand to relax the labour laws to ease the business environment. Rajasthan goverment amended their labour laws and the results are encouraging. The units life extended and more wealth and more employments generated. Most important is the sustainable of the industry. It it dies, who will employ?
Uma said…
Why is Gujarat used as standard? Many other states are doing, or trying to do, better

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