Labour Day Special Edition

Ziraat Times Research Desk

As the world marked the International Labour Day on May 1, Jammu and Kashmir, as usual, has had a yawning response to the day. Does the day really matter for the people in the state? If yes, what does it mean for the labour class here? May Ist is globally marked as a day of reasserting the rights and the wellbeing of the labour class of the world. Nowadays, it is also seen as an opportunity to take stock of the legal and policy frameworks in countries to ensure that these are conducive to business and economic growth.

Grappling with the unthinkable situation of dealing with 260 different labour laws, Jammu and Kashmir embarked on major labour reform in 2018 when the former Finance Minister, Dr. Haseeb Drabu, proposed a uniform employment code that would cover all types of employment, with the exception of domestic workers and agricultural labourers.

The code, consisting of all labour laws of the state, was expected to set out a framework for terms of employment and service of all the workers. Dr. Drabu had also mooted the idea of setting a  separate “labour judiciary” to help address the plethora of legal cases that clog the labour sector in the state.

This week Ziraat Times teams set out to understand if the reforms initiated in 2018 had made any headway. With the sudden change of government, we learned, most of the initiatives kick-started in 2018 have either made no headway or are simply lost in the piles of the files of the respective departments.

When we spoke to Dr Drabu about the status of those initiatives, he kept his fingers crossed about the reform process making a fresh  start once the new elected government takes charge. 

Labour law reforms are critical to ushering in real ease of doing business in the State, besides, of course, addressing the aspirations of the labour class,” Dr. Drabu had argued while making a case for the reforms his ministry had initiated in 2018. Today, there is no clue about the multidisciplinary committee that had been set up to frame the J&K Employment Code for the State.

Haseeb Drabu
Former Finance Minister

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I had proposed a Uniform Employment Code applicable to all labour, except domestic workers and agricultural labour. We were the first state to initiate it.  All labour laws are in the Concurrent List of the Seventh Schedule. We are the only state to have residuary powers.

Hence we are best places to initiate it. At present, there are around 260 labour laws in the State which are not just cumbersome to administer but at times conflicting with each other.

These were to be pruned and a Uniform Code on wages, industrial relations, social security, and safety and work conditions put in place. Labor is at a disadvantage in the present system.  I don’t think any progress has been made on it. It is not in the bandwidth of the government. Let’s hope when an elected government is in place it will be carried forward.

Bashir Ahmad Khan
Labour Commissioner

bashir

The codes that are redefined is basically done by Government of India and it’s going on in the whole country.

The construction workers welfare is full-fledged operational in Jammu as well as Kashmir.

We have almost 3,50,000 workers registered with us and among them, 3,20,000 are already registered with us digitally. Our online process is working smoothly.


Ms. Shahnaz AKhtar
Deputy Labour Commissioner

On Uniform Employment Code, we can share the details once our offices are open again in Srinagar. Much work has been done under this and it’s with the administration level now.


Peer Muzaffar Shah
CEO, Construction Welfare  Board

Muzaffar Shah

Workers get registered at district levels and only such workers get registered who have worked for 90 days preceding the date of registration.

We have online registrations working smoothly now and workers get to benefit from them as well.

Any worker who is registered with the Welfare board can avail scholarships for his children from Ist grade up to Post graduation. If his children are studying MBBS or Engineering, they get an annual amount of Rs 50,000.

If a worker has a life-threatening disease, he gets an amount of around Rs 1,00,000. In case of death of a worker, his legal heirs get the compensation of Rs 2,00,000 and funeral charges amounting to Rs 5,000.

Gh Nabi Malik,
State secretary, CPI(M)

GN MAlik

It is a myth if the department claims that the beneficiaries get the compensation or all the benefits what they are eligible for.

There is no transparency as to what people do they get registered. You’ll find the people working privately and claim to be the portals where workers can get registered. It’s a trap and seems they are clearly the agents and the infrastructure isn’t really good and healthy.

If labour department was to take care of the welfare board as well, why not to engage more staff instead of making the workers suffer. I, myself have witnessed the cases where an eligible worker wasn’t even provided with the funds that he deserved.

Some local mohalla committee helped that guy with the basic amenities. Such cases make it clear and yet no step is taken for the transparency.

What does Labour Department do in J&K?

The Labour Department is charged with the responsibility of enforcement of 24 Central Labour Laws and 3 state enactments for regulating the working conditions of workers and their welfare in public/ private organized sector. The department is headed by the Labour Commissioner with Deputy Labour Commissioners functioning as divisional heads. The department has its offices at Delhi and Chandigarh as well. These offices are supposed to look after welfare of labourers of J&K who go to these places for work. These are functioning under the control of Deputy Labour Commissioners and Assistant Labour Commissioners respectively.

Central Labour Laws Applicable to J&K

  1. The Employee’s Compensation Act, 1923
  2. The Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972
  3. The Payment of Wages Act, 1936
  4. The Minimum Wages Act, 1948
  5. The Employees’ State Insurance Act,1948
  6. The Factories Act, 1948
  7. The Working Journalists (Conditions of Service and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1955
  8. The Motor Transport Workers Act, 1961
  9. The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986
  10. The Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of employment and Conditions Of Service) Act, 1979
  11. The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976
  12. The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961
  13. The Payment of Bonus Act, 1965
  14. The Contract Labour (R&A) Act, 1970
  15. The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976
  16. The Industrial Disputes Act, 1948
  17. The Trade Unions Act, 1926
  18. The Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946
  19. The Coal Mines Labour Welfare Fund Act, 1947
  20. The Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Cess Act, 1996
  21. The Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996
  22. Unorganized workers Social Security Act, 2008.
  23. Sales Promotion Employees Condition of Service Act 1976.
  24. The Labour Laws exemption from the furnishing of Returns and Maintaining Registers by certain establishment 1988

State Legislations

  1. The J&K Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1961
  2. J&K Shops and Establishment Act, 1966
  3. Industrial Establishments (National and Festival) Holidays Act, 1974.

The following amendments on Labour Laws have been made by Labour Department during the current year 2017-18:

Amendment of Labour Law


J&K Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board. What does it do?

The J&K Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board initially constituted under Section 18 of the Act on 31st July 2007 were subsequently reconstituted on 1st December 2010 and 7 October 2015. Govt of Jammu and Kashmir through a various notification issued from time to time appointed Officers of Labour Department for various functions under the Act and Rules made thereunder

 Chief Inspector of inspections.
 Inspectors of inspections
 Registering Officers for the establishment of construction workers
 Appellate Authorities.

The rules under the Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Act were also framed in the year 2006 under SRO-232 of 2006 and amended from time to time where under the following schemes are available for the welfare of the registered Building and Other Construction Workers.

Since the inception, the J&K Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board have collected Cess to the tune Rs. 686.00 Crore under Section 3 of the Cess Act, out of which an amount of Rs. 285.16 Crore has been spent on Various Welfare Schemes of the J&K Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board.

An amount of Rs. 41.74 crore was released in favor of 35196 No.s of Beneficiaries during the FY 2016-17 and 60535 No. of cases under various welfare schemes amounting to Rs. 41.33 crore has been released during Financial Year 2017-18 by the J&K Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board (Head office and District Offices).

Impact of various schemes/progress on the economy of Jammu and Kashmir State

The Various Schemes viz Education Assistance, Marriage Assistance, Chronic, Medical and Death Assistance has improved living standards of the registered construction workers to a reasonable extent. The drop out the percentage of the children of the BOC Worker has reduced drastically as the Education Assistance ranging from Rs 2500 to Rs. 15000 is being provided to each child/ dependants (up to two) of BOC Worker in a year and also the Education Assistance for the professional of BOC Worker in Technical/ Professional College.

Further by providing the Assistance for marriage, disability, chronic disease, and death to the BOC workers/ dependants, the assistance is being available to them in the need of the hour by virtue of which the mortality rate among the Section has considerably, improved their living standard and the BOC Workers feel themselves as an important organ of the society.

A major initiative was undertaken during the years 2016-17, and new initiative conceptualized for the year 2017-18The J&K BOCWWB in the FY 2016-17 had initiated the digitization of the functioning of the Welfare Board to make the system online. Keeping in view the notable achievements made, the Board in its meeting held 17.04.2017 approved that the FY 2017-18 be declared as “Digital Year of JK BOCWWB”.

The Board has launched the new web portal i.e. www.jkbocw.gov.in which is the due course of time would enable all the construction workers to submit online the application for registration, for renewal of the registration of the labour cards and receive the benefits under various schemes. The registrations of the establishments under the Act and collection of Cess is also under the process of making online thereby shifting the functioning of Welfare Board wholly from manual to online system.

Lots of theory, little in practice:

Scheme
This is what government schemes envisages for the labour class.


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