Contract Labour Act to be amended
Focus on workers’ wage disparity, social security
Union Labour Minister M Mallikarjun Kharge on Wednesday disclosed that the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act would be amended to safeguard the interests of contract workers in terms of wages and social security.
The minister also said the government was in the process of amending four other labour laws – the Factories Act, Mininum Wages Act, Employees Provident Fund Act and the Building and Other Construction Workers’ Act.
Addressing a gathering of the Indian Staffing Federation, an apex body of temporary staffing industry, Kharge observed that the huge difference in wages between the regular staff and contract workers often lead to unrest among the labour force.
“Contract workers expect wages and social security equal to the regular workers directly employed by the principal employer for the same or similar kind of work performed. Problems occur when the workers are not paid their due or exploited in terms of wages, hours of work etc,” he remarked.
According to a study by the V V Giri National Labour Institute, contract labour accounts for 55 per cent of public sector jobs and 45 per cent of all private sector jobs. The minister did not mention Maruti incident in its Manesar plant which underwent huge labour problem relating to difference in salaries as the clash among workers led to the killing of an executive and damage to the property recently.
The minister released a report on the “flexi staffing industry” which estimates that the industry willl grow to represent 10 per cent of the organised workforce by 2025. “That would take the current size of the industry from 1.3 million to nine million.” Flexi staffing is one form of contract staffing where an organisation benefits because of its staffing flexibility, especially when current projects require extra work force and at short notice.
The report said India was among the five least protected countries when it came to flexi workforce in spite of having an elaborate regulatory framework. It found that retail, telecom, manufacturing, pharma, hospitality and agriculture sectors are increasingly going flexi and of the total flexi workforce, 82 per cent is under the age of 30 years.