All work, no pay

Bonded Labourers

The Labour Department of Delhi government, which has been entrusted with the responsibility of enforcing various labour legislations for the welfare of workers challaned close to 5,000 factory owners in last five years, including 1,022 in 2011 alone.

WAGED DOWN Manoj Kumar and Lali Bai.

Metrolife speaks to a few labourers and finds out that these workers are paid half of what they actually deserve. “I merely get Rs 150 per day. This is very less compared to the work we do. We should at least get Rs 250 per day,” said Dasrat Prasad who is from Tikamgarh and has got three children and a wife to feed. Same is the case with Beli Bai, wife of a labourer. “We are meagerly paid. We only get Rs 150, which is nothing. These contractors don’t give us more money.”

According to the available data, the Minimum Wages Act, 1948 remains the most flouted Act and 3,909 factory owners have faced the Labour Department’s flak since 2007. In 2011, while 259 owners have been challaned under Factories Act, 1948, 705 were challaned under Minimum Wages Act and 49 under Contract Labour Act, 1970. In comparison with 705 in 2011, 1,253 factory owners were challaned under Minimum Wages Act, 1948 in 2010, 770 in 2009, 799 in 2008 and 382 in 2007.

The minimum wages for an unskilled worker in Delhi has been revised and hiked to Rs 256 per day, amounting to monthly salary of Rs 6,156 by the Delhi government in April, last year, but, many remained ignorant about it.

The wages in respect of semi-skilled worker have been fixed at Rs 283 per day and monthly salary of Rs 7,358 while in case of a skilled worker, the daily wage has been increased to Rs 312.

“These contractors take commission and do not give us proper money. I am in Delhi for the last six years and make footpaths for which I get Rs 160 per day which is nothing,” said Kirpal Rekwar, a labourer originally from Uttar Pradesh. Desraj Rekwar, another labourer seconded Kirpal, “These contractors build their own homes and we live on streets and are dependent on them. We want more money, everything is so expensive now. Rs 160 is nothing.”

From January 2007 to December 2011, the Labour Department had disposed off 36,210 cases under Minimum Wages Act; 19,737 under Industrial Disputes Act, 1947; 1,674 under Bonus Act, 1965; 1,556 under Gratuity Act,1972; and 2,609 under Employee Compensation Act, 1947.

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