This chapter will enable students to:
- Understand the meaning, scope and fields of labour administration
- Understand the salient features of labour administration in India prior to the adoption of the Indian Constitution
- Describe the distribution of legislative powers between central and state governments under the Indian Constitution
- Explain the organization for labour administration of the central government
- Explain the main features of labour administration in states
- Make an assessment of labour administration in the country
- Describe the role of the ILO in the field of labour administration
Expanding Horizon of Labour Administration
With the development of industrialization, expansion of the size of workforce, growth of labour laws and regulations, adoption of welfare and other programmes in the field of labour, increasing importance of trade unions and employers’ organizations in the economic and social life, growing international interactions in labour matters and a host of other developments, the need for the formulation of labour policies and programmes and their implementation has increasingly acquired importance. Administrative arrangements, of one form or the other, have been made in various countries of the world for the preparation and implementation of the labour policies, laws and programmes.
Labour administration today has come to serve a cluster of purposes. Apart from being a source of information, it is an active intermediary in the establishment of industrial harmony, and prevention and settlement of industrial disputes. It establishes special links with the social partners and plays the role of informed observer of the developments in the field of labour. Labour administration has been of considerable help in providing effective solutions to the problems emerging in the world of labour. In the era of globalization, it has acquired a special significance. Increasing emphasis has come to be laid on social dialogue and tripartism. In view of expanding globalization, the ILO has also become increasingly concerned with it and has recognized the importance of strengthening labour administration as a core objective of sound and effective economic and social policies at the international and national levels. In view of new challenges emerging from globalization, labour administration has started laying more emphasis on the adoption and implementation of responsive and efficient labour policies that can be put into practice through well-coordinated and efficiently operating machineries including labour ministries, effective employment services, adequate information and proper consultation of social partners.
CONCEPT OF LABOUR ADMINISTRATION
The Labour Administration Convention No. 150, 1978 of ILO defines ‘labour administration as public administration activities in the field of labour policy’.1 According to the same Convention, the term ‘system of labour administration’ covers ‘all public administration bodies responsible for and/or engaged in labour administration—whether they are ministerial departments or public agencies, including parastatal and regional or local agencies, and any other form of decentralized administration—and any institutional framework for the coordination of the activities of such bodies and for consultation with and participation by employers and workers and their organizations’.2 Labour administration involves ‘a coherent national labour policy; a coordinated system; organization integrating the active participation of management and labour and their respective organizations; and appropriate human, financial and material resources for an effective and efficient service’.3
In brief, labour administration involves preparation, administration, coordination, checking and review of labour policies and programmes, preparation and enforcement of labour laws and regulations, and establishment and enforcement of standards in the field of labour. An important feature of labour administration is the involvement of employers’ and workers’ organizations in various areas and at various levels of labour administration. In the words of Wallin Michel, ‘… where national programming or planning exists, appropriate methods of consultation, and participation of free and independent employers’ and workers’ organizations should take place in working towards and implementing social advancement schemes and in promoting material economic development at all levels’.4
SCOPE OR FIELDS OF LABOUR ADMINISTRATION
The scope or fields of activities under labour administration have expanded during the course of time. Initially confined to the enforcement of a few labour laws or regulations, labour administration has come to cover within its fold a wide variety of subjects. Substantial enlargement of the number and contents of labour laws and regulations all the more necessitated the establishment of a network of labour administration machineries. State regulation of labour matters became necessary also from many other considerations. The broad areas covered under labour administration today, whether statutory or non-statutory, include contracts and terms of employment, wages, working conditions, industrial relations, social security, employment and unemployment, training, employment of children and women, organizations of workers and employers, information and research, and industrial disputes and work-stoppages. The specific fields of labour administration activities include quantum of wages including minimum wages, protection of wages, fringe benefits, bonus, hours of work, holidays, leave, physical working conditions, occupational safety and health, maternity protection, workmen’s compensation, provident fund and pension, gratuity, sickness benefit, medical benefit, unemployment benefit, employment policy, employment exchange, training, vocational guidance, labour welfare measures, collective bargaining, industrial actions including strikes and lock-outs, workers’ participation in management, trade unions, employers’ organizations, unfair labour practices, tripartite forums, employment of children and women, collection and dissemination of information relating to labour, labour surveys, and so on. The degree of emphasis, activities undertaken, and the extent of intervention vary from country to country.
Labour administration is confined not only to the national ministerial departments or departments of state or local government. It also covers the role of other agencies including workers’ and employers’ organizations and non-governmental agencies at various levels. The fields of labour administration activities essentially depend on the nature of labour policy, labour laws and regulations and practices operating in particular countries at particular times.
Of the agencies involved in labour administration, the national ministerial labour department has to play the most significant role. The International Labour Conference suggests the following main functions of such a department:
- It should be required to provide the government with all useful information for or to advise it with regard to the elaboration of government’s labour policy and, where necessary, the preparation of laws and regulations.
- It should be entrusted with the administration of labour laws and regulations, the implementation of government’s labour policy and the handling of labour questions.
- It should participate at the highest level and on an accepted and reciprocal basis with other government’s departments in elaboration of policies concerning such objectives as eradication of unemployment, industrial peace and other questions relating to labour.
- It should have at its disposal competent and adequate staff and administrative resources that will enable it to perform its functions efficiently and impartially.5
IMPORTANCE OF LABOUR ADMINISTRATION
‘Efficient labour administration, capable of responding to changing economic and social conditions, and justifying the confidence of both employers and workers, makes a vital contribution to the improvement of working conditions and at the same time to national development’.6 Its contribution towards development of participation through social dialogue and tripartism has been recognized all over the world. Labour administration has increasingly acquired credibility on account of the fairness of labour policies, laws and regulations which are known and applied uniformly. It also contains elements of transparency as there is openness in decision-making which generally involves consultation with and participation by the parties concerned. Decisions are generally taken after informing the parties about the proposals. Services in labour administration are made available without discrimination. Organization for labour administration is generally open and responsible. It is accountable for its mandates and activities. In brief, labour administration has come to contain elements of ‘participation’, ‘credibility’, ‘transparency’ and ‘responsibility’.7
About the points of strength of labour administration, the Department for Government and Labour Law and Administration (GLLAD) of ILO states: ‘Labour administration is an acknowledged actor in the elaboration of government economic and social policies; a major source of information in its fields of competence for government, employer and worker decision-making; an active intermediary for preventing and settling industrial disputes; as informed observer of the trends and development of society by virtue of its special links with social partners; a provider of effective solutions to the evolving needs of its users.’8
Some of the specific contributions of labour administration have been described in Box 31.1.
SOME SPECIFIC CONTRIBUTIONS OF LABOUR ADMINISTRATION
Formulation of labour policy consistent with the needs of the society and economy and taking into account the views of the parties affected
Establishment of uniform standards of labour and adoption of steps for their effective observance and enforcement
Improvement of the working and living conditions of workers and protecting those who need special protection
Maintenance of industrial peace and harmony
Identification of the rights and obligations of the parties and ensuring their effective compliance
Promotion of cooperation among the parties and encouragement to consultation with and participation of the employers and workers
Penalizing those not complying with the provisions of laws, rules or regulations
Making available the governmental services for ensuring compliance with the declared policies and programmes.
Position Prior to 1919
Prior to 1919, the government had to make arrangement for the enforcement of only a few labour laws, for example, Fatal Accidents Act, 1855, Workmen’s Breach of Contract Act, 1859, Merchant Shipping Act, 1859, Employers and Workmen’s (Disputes) Act, 1860, Plantation Labour or Emigration Acts (1863–1901), Factories Act, 1881 and 1911, and Mines Act, 1901. Most of these laws had been enacted by the Government of India and were administered by magistrates. The Mines Act, 1901, provided for the appointment of Chief Inspector of Mines and the Assam Labour and Emigration Act for the establishment of Assam Labour Board. During the period, the distribution of legislative and administrative powers was governed by the Regulating Act, 1773, Pitt’s India Act, 1784, Charter Acts, 1793, 1813, 1833 and 1853, the Government of India Act, 1858 and Indian Councils Acts, 1861 and 1892.9 In general, labour administration during the period was piecemeal ad hoc and its primary responsibility vested in the local magistrates. There was a general lack of coordination between the central and provincial governments in matters relating to labour administration.
It was the Government of India Act, 1919, which for the first time, defined in some detail the distribution of legislative and administrative powers between the central and provincial governments. Under the Act, legislative powers relating to most of the important labour matters were vested in the central government. Provincial government could deliberate mainly on ‘reserved’ subjects and that too under the superintendence, direction and control of the central government. Generally, the central government could enact labour laws relating to mines, railways, major ports, seamen, and international and inter-provincial emigration. The provincial governments could deliberate on labour matters pertaining to factories, plantations, public works, inland vessels, labour disputes, labour welfare, and housing, but under the control of the central government. In practice, most labour laws even on these reserved subjects also were enacted by the central government which exercised considerable control over the provincial governments.
At the time of submission of report by the Royal Commission on Labour (Whitley Commission) in 1931, ‘bulk of the labour problems within the jurisdiction of the Government of India was dealt with by the then Department of Industries and Labour under the charge of a Member of the Governor General’s Executive Council’.10 The administrative head of the department was a Secretary to the Government. The name of the department ‘Industry and Labour’ was misleading as it dealt with a variety of subjects such as posts and telegraphs, public works, civil aviation, patents and copyright, and broadcasting. The department dealt with labour matters only partially. Labour matters relating to docks and transports by sea or inland water were under the jurisdiction of the Commerce Department. The Chief Commissioner for Railways dealt with matters relating to railway labour. The Department of Education, Health and Lands looked after emigrant labour. The Chief Inspector of Mines functioned under the Department of Industry and Labour. Administration of factory legislation, workmen’s compensation, trade unions and trade disputes was the responsibility of the presidencies or provinces. ‘No specialist advice was considered necessary’11 on these labour matters.
In 1920, special posts of Labour Commissioners were created in Madras and Bengal. A Labour Office was set up in Bombay in 1921. A Labour Bureau was established by the central government in 1920 for promoting coordination between the centre and the provinces, but it was abolished in 1923.
‘In Provinces, the labour portfolio was handled by Member of the Governor’s Executive Council, who was responsible for other subjects also. Labour problems had acquired neither the vastness nor the complexity to warrant the attention of a full-time Member’.12 In some industrially advanced provinces, Labour Officers had been appointed, but their responsibilities were limited. In other provinces, no specialized agency existed for labour administration. ‘It was in this context that the Whitley Commission Recommended the setting up of the office of Labour Commissioner in the Provinces.’13
Position Since 1935
With the enactment of the Government of India Act, 1935, labour administration in the country considerably improved. The Act kept labour subjects, like other subjects, in three lists—federal list, concurrent list and provincial list. Most of the labour matters coming within the jurisdiction of the central government under the Government of India Act, 1919, were kept in the federal list. Both the central and provincial governments were empowered to deliberate on labour matters kept in the concurrent list which included factory labour, labour welfare, social insurance, workmen’s compensation, superannuation pension, health insurance, industrial relations, trade unions and industrial disputes. Other labour matters such as those relating to plantations, inland water transport, small mines, and others were kept in the provincial list. With the emphasis on provincial autonomy under the Act, the role of provincial governments in labour administration was enlarged.
By the time popular ministries took over administration, Labour Commissioners had been appointed in most of the provinces and steps were taken to appoint them in the remaining provinces. With the appointment of labour Commissioners in provinces, labour administration appreciably improved. Labour laws that came to be enacted following the Recommendations of the Royal Commission on Labour such as Factories Act, 1934, Payment of Wages Act, 1936, Children (Pledging of Labour) Act, 1933, Employment of Children Act, 1938, Mines (Amendment) Act, 1935, Tea Districts Emigrant Labour Act, 1932, Employer’s Liability Act, 1938, Trade Disputes (Amendment) Act, 1934 and Mines Maternity Benefit Act,1941, necessitated the establishment of enforcement machineries both at the centre and in provinces. The Second World War also led to the expansion of labour administration in the country.
According to the Labour Investigation Committee, which submitted its report in 1946, ‘… the institution of Labour Officers under the Commissioners of Labour to whom workers could represent their grievances was well established in most Provincial Governments. Likewise, the Government of India appointed, under its Chief Labour Commissioner, a number of Regional Labour Commissioners and Conciliation Officers, who were entrusted with duties of settling labour disputes’.14 The organization of Chief Labour Commissioner had also an inspectorate for supervising the implementation of labour laws. Labour Welfare Advisers were appointed for ordinance factories. A Central Factory Advice Service was set up to guide the factory inspectorates in the provinces. Besides, a network of National Employment Service and Industrial Training Institutes came to be set up. The Five Year Programme for Labour (1946) contributed much towards the ‘strengthening’ of labour administration and ‘intensifying its operations’. The legislative support given to the Five Year Labour Programme resulted in ‘(a) the creation of administrative machinery for the implementation of new enactments and (b) the strengthening of the then existing set-up to cope with the additional functions entrusted to it’.15 The expanding operation of tripartite bodies, particularly the Indian Labour Conference and Standing Labour Committee added new responsibilities on the government in regard to labour administration. The Labour Minister’s Conferences organized from time to time also contributed towards expansion and enlargement of labour administration. Tripartite Industrial Committees also came to be set up for certain industries such as cotton textiles, coal mines, plantations, jute, iron and steel, chemicals, cement, and others for reviewing and discussing matters relating to labour problems and to render advice on labour welfare matters.
Labour administration came to be further strengthened following the Recommendations of the Labour Investigation Committee. There was a sort of spate of labour laws enacted prior to or after the attainment of Independence. These included Mica Mines Labour Welfare Fund Act, 1946, Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946, Coal Mines Labour Welfare Fund Act, 1947, Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, Factories Act, 1948, Minimum Wages Act, 1948, Coal Mines Provident Fund and Bonus Schemes Act, 1948, and Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948. Quite a few labour laws also came to be enacted in the provinces, whether as a result of the Recommendations of labour inquiry committees, or otherwise. These laws provided for inspection and other machineries for ensuring implementation of their provisions. Labour administration both at the centre and in the provinces had to be geared to meet the requirements of the expanded responsibilities. In 1949, the Government of India ratified ILO’s Labour Inspection Convention (No 81), 1947 (excluding part II), and ensured the incorporation of its provisions in labour laws of the country.
Labour administration in the country acquired a new orientation with the adoption of the Indian Constitution in 1950. Article 246 and schedule 7 of the Constitution contain provisions relating to distribution of legislative powers between the central and state government. For legislative purposes, the subjects have been kept under three lists, namely, (i) Union List, (ii) Concurrent List and (iii) State List. Only the parliament can enact laws on subjects kept under the union list. Both parliament and state legislatures can deliberate on matters included in the concurrent list. Subjects specified under the state list come under the jurisdiction of state legislature.
Labour matters in the three lists are as follows:
Participation in international conferences, associations and other bodies and implementing their decisions; regulation of labour and safety in mines and oil fields; industrial disputes concerning union employees; union pension; inter-state migration; and labour in major ports, railways, posts, telegraphs and telephones, and air transport; and union agencies and institutions for (i) professional, vocational or technical training and (ii) promotion of special studies and research.
Trade unions, industrial and labour disputes; social security and social insurance; employment and unemployment; welfare of labour including conditions of work, provident fund, employers’ liability, workmen’s compensation, invalidity and old-age pension and maternity benefits; vocational and technical training of labour; labour in factories, boilers and electricity; inquiries and statistics; and economic and social planning.
State pension; and relief of disabled and unemployables. Under articles 256 and 257, the central government is empowered to give directions to state government in respect of laws enacted by the parliament. Under Article 258, the central government can delegate powers to the state governments and impose duties on them. The central government can also transfer to the state governments the power to legislate on matters in the concurrent list.
A few clauses of Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy also influenced subsequent course of labour administration. The relevant fundamental rights are freedom of association (Art.19); and right against exploitation which prohibits forced labour, employment of children less than 14 years of age in factories, mines and other hazardous employments, and traffic in human beings (Art. 23). The Directive Principles of State Policy enjoin upon the state to direct its policy in such a manner as to secure to all men and women right to an adequate means of livelihood, equal pay for equal work, and within the limits of its economic capacity and development, to make effective provision for securing the right to work, education and to public assistance in the event of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement or other cases of undeserved want. The state is also directed to make endeavour to secure to workers a living wage, humane conditions of work, a decent standard of life and involvement of workers in management of industries. The policy of the state is also to be directed towards securing that the health and strength of workers, men and women, and the tender age of children are not abused and that the citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age or strength. The state is further required to ensure that children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and that childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment (Arts. 38–43A). The Directive Principles of State Policy are not justiciable, but are fundamental in the governance of the country and it is the duty of the state to apply these principles while making laws. Fundamental Rights are justiciable.
Expansion of Labour Laws
During the period following the adoption of the Constitution most of the labour laws enacted earlier continued to remain in force. In addition, new labour laws also came to be enacted during the period. These include Plantation Labour Act, 1951, Mines Act, 1952, Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952, Merchant Shipping Act, 1953. Apprentices Act, 1961, Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, Payment of Bonus Act, 1965, Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966, Labour Welfare Fund Acts, Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970, Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972, Equal Remuneration Act, 1976, Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979, Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, and Shops and Establishments Acts of the states. The period following the adoption of the Constitution also witnessed the adoption of a series of amending laws modifying the provisions of these and the earlier laws in operation. These laws, like other labour laws, also provide for inspection and other enforcing authorities.
In addition to the Constitutional mandates and expansion of labour laws, certain other developments also exercised a potent influence on labour administration in the country. Labour policy statements under successive five year plans contained important ingredients of labour administration. Formation of organizations of workers and employers and their active involvement in tripartite forums, whether statutory or non-statutory, and their participation in policy decisions have been a potent influencing factor. Expansion of non-statutory programmes in the field of labour and labour welfare measures also necessitated administrative arrangements. Growth of labour force and employment, industrial development, developments in other fields of economic activities and a large-scale judicial intervention and court decisions necessitated conscious, responsible and labour administration in the country.
A description of existing labour administration machineries of the central and state governments has been given below.
LABOUR ADMINISTRATION MACHINERY OF CENTRAL GOVERNMENT
The main responsibility for labour administration of the Government of India vests in the Ministry of Labour (Ministry of Labour and Employment) since 2004. The Ministry presently consists of the main Ministry (Secretariat), and four attached offices, ten subordinate offices, four autonomous organizations, a number of adjudication bodies (presently 22 in number) and one arbitration body.
THE MAIN MINISTRY (SECRETARIAT)
The main Ministry of Labour (Secretariat) is the centre for consideration and decision of all questions relating to labour so far as the Government of India is concerned. It is the central administrative machinery ‘for the formulation of labour policy, enforcement of labour laws and for the promotion of labour welfare’.16 It guides, controls and coordinates the activities of all organizations and agencies involved in labour administration at the centre or in the states. The Government of India Allocation of Business Rules has laid down in detail the specific subjects allotted to the Ministry. The main subjects allotted are described in Box 31.2.
SPECIFIC SUBJECTS ALLOTTED TO THE MINISTRY OF LABOUR
(i) Labour policy (including wage policy) and legislation; (ii) safety, health and welfare of labour; (iii) social security for labour; (iv) policy relating to special target groups such as women and child labour; (v) industrial relations and enforcement of labour laws in the central sphere; (vi) adjudication of industrial disputes through central government Industrial Tribunals, Labour Courts and National Industrial Tribunals; (vii) workers’ education; (viii) labour and employment statistics; (ix) emigration of labour for employment abroad; (x) employment services and vocational training; (xi) administration of central labour and employment services; and (xii) international cooperation in matters relating to labour and employment.17
The offices attached to the Ministry of Labour are: (i) Office of Chief Labour Commissioner, (ii) Directorate General, Factory Advise Service and Labour Institutes, (iii) Labour Bureau, and (iv) Directorate General, Employment and Training.
Office of Chief Labour Commissioner
The headquarters of the organization is in New Delhi. The Chief Labour Commissioner is assisted by a Joint Chief Labour Commissioner, a Chief Adviser (Labour Welfare), a Director (Training) and a few Deputy Chief Labour Commissioners, Regional Labour Commissioners, Assistant Labour Commissioners and Labour Enforcement Officers in the field. The functionaries in the hierarchy of the organization have been designated as Inspectors, Authorities, Controlling Authorities, Appellate Authorities, Conciliation Officers, Registrar of Trade Unions as per requirements of different Acts and according to their ranks and convenience of administration. The organization of Chief Labour Commissioner is also known as Central Industrial Relations Machinery (CIRM). The fields of activities of the organization are shown in Box 31.3.
FIELDS OF ACTIVITIES OF THE ORGANIZATION OF THE CHIEF LABOUR COMMISSIONER (CENTRAL)
(i) Prevention, investigation and settlement of industrial disputes in the central sphere; (ii) implementation of labour laws in industries and establishments in respect of which the central government is the appropriate government is the appropriate government; (iii) enforcement of settlements and awards; (iv) verification of membership of trade unions affiliated to the central organizations of workers for the purposes of giving them representation in national and international conferences and committees and determining their representative character for recognition under the Code of Discipline; and (v) investigation into breaches of Code of Discipline.
The labour laws enforced by the organization in industries or establishments in the central sphere include Payment of Wages Act, 1936; Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946; Industrial Disputes Act, 1947; Trade Unions Act, 1926; Minimum Wages Act, 1948; Maternity Benefit Act, 1961; Payment of Bonus Act, 1965; Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986; Payment of Gratuity Act,1972; Equal Remuneration Act,1976; Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act,1979; Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act,1970; and Dock Workers (Regulation of Employment) Act,1948.
Directorate General, Factory Advice Service and Labour Institutes
The headquarters of the organization is located in Mumbai. It functions as a technical arm of the Ministry in regard to matters concerned with safety, health and welfare of workers in factories and ports and docks. It assists the central government in the formulation and review of policy and legislation on occupational safety and health in factories and ports. It maintains liaison with factory inspectorates of states in regard to implementation and enforcement of provisions of the Factories Act, 1948. It enforces the Dock Workers (Safety, Health and Welfare) Act, 1986. The organization renders advice on technical matters, and undertakes research in industrial psychology and so forth. It provides training in the field of industrial safety and health and conducts a one-year diploma course in Industrial Safety and three-month certificate course in Industrial Health. Labour institutes are located in Mumbai, Kanpur, Calcutta and Chennai.
The Labour Bureau is located at Shimla and Chandigarh. The organization is headed by a Director General. It is responsible for (i) collection, compilation and dissemination of labour statistics; (ii) construction and maintenance of Working Class Consumer Price Index Numbers for selected centres and all-India basis for Industrial Workers; (iii) construction of CPI Numbers for Agricultural and Rural Workers; (iv) maintenance of up-to-date data relating to working conditions of industrial workers; (v) undertaking research into specific problems concerning labour with a view to supplying data and information needed for the formulation of labour policy; (vi) publishing reports, pamphlets and brochures on various aspects of labour; (vii) imparting training; (viii) bringing out regular publications of Indian Labour Journal (monthly), Indian Labour Year Book, and Pocket Book of Labour Statistics.
Labour Bureau also brings out reports on the working of a few labour laws, reviews on industrial disputes, closures, lay-off and retrenchment, special publications on matters of labour interest; and a monthly newsletter under the title ‘Labour Intelligence’.
The headquarters of this organization is located in New Delhi. It is headed by the Director General, Employment and Training. The organization is responsible for ‘laying down the policies, standards, norms and guidelines in the area of vocational training throughout the country and also for coordinating employment services’.18 Employment service and vocational training are operated through a countrywide network of employment exchanges, industrial training institutes and a number of other specialized institutions both at the central and in the states/union territories. Development of these programmes at the national level, particularly in the area of evolving common policies, laying down standards and procedure of training of officers and evaluation of the programmes is the responsibility of the Directorate General of Employment and Training. The day-to-day administration of the employment exchanges and industrial training institutes rests with the state governments/Union territory administration. Employment exchanges provide placement and vocational guidance services to job-seekers.
The main training schemes operated under the organization include Craftsmen Training Schemes; Apprenticeship Training Scheme; Craft Instructor Training Scheme; Training of Highly Skilled Craftsmen and Supervisors; Training of Women; Staff Training and Research; Development of Instructional Materials and undertaking special training projects.
The subordinate offices under the Ministry of Labour are the Directorate General of Mines Safety and Offices of Welfare Commissioners.
The Director General of Mines Safety is located at Dhanbad. It is entrusted with the responsibility of enforcing Mines Act, 1952, and the rules and regulations framed under it. The organization also enforces the Indian Electricity Act,1910, as applicable to mines and oil-fields, and Maternity Benefit Act,1961, in mines.
The nine offices of Welfare Commissioner are located in Allahabad, Bangalore, Bhilwara, Bhubaneshwar, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Jabalpur, Karma and Nagpur. The organizations are responsible for the enforcement of various labour welfare fund Acts such as those for mica mines (1946), limestone and dolomite mines (1972), beedi workers (1976), cine-workers (1981), dock-workers (1986), building workers (1996) and chrome ore mines. The activities of Coal Mines Labour Welfare Organization which were governed by the Coal Mines Labour Welfare Fund Act.1947 were taken over by the Coal India Ltd. in 1986.The organization formulates and implements various welfare scheme for the benefit of the coal mine workers such as housing, medical and recreational facilities, water supply, educational facilities, and so on. They have also undertaken schemes of scholarships for the children of the workers and accident benefits for the workers and their dependants. Most of the welfare activities are administered by the organizations, but loan and subsidies are also made available to the state governments, local authorities and to the employees for implementation of ‘prototype schemes’.19
The autonomous organizations of the Ministry are (i) Employee’s State Insurance Corporation, (ii) Employee’s Provident Fund Organization, (iii) Central Board for Workers’ Education and (iv) V. V. Giri National Labour Institute.
Employees’ State Insurance Corporation
The Corporation is statutory body set up under the Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948. Its headquarters is located in New Delhi. The principal officers of the Corporation are Director General, Insurance Commissioner, Medical Commissioner, Chief Accounts Officer and Actuary. There is also a standing committee which is the executive committee of the Corporation and a Medical Benefit Council.
The organization administers various benefits under the Act, for instance, sickness benefit, maternity benefit, disablement benefit, dependants’ benefit, and funeral expenses, which are cash benefits, and medical benefit. The medical benefit has been made available to the family members of the insured employees and also to superannuated employees (see Chapter 26).
The headquarters of the organization is in New Delhi and its chief executive officer is the Central Chief Provident Fund Commissioner. The organization has a number of regional and other offices spread throughout the country.
The organization is responsible for the enforcement of the Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 and the schemes framed under it. The schemes framed and in operation under the Act are: (i) Employees’ Provident Funds Scheme, 1952, (ii) Employees’ Deposit-linked Insurance Scheme, 1976, and (iii) Employees’ Pension Scheme, 1995. The Employees’ Family Pension Scheme, 1971 has been merged in the Employees’ Pension Scheme, 1995 (see Chapter 27).
Central Board for Workers’ Education (CBWE)
The Central Board for Workers’ Education was set up in 1958 as tripartite society in the Ministry of Labour. Its headquarters is located in Nagpur.
The objectives of the Board inter alia include: (i) to strengthen among working class a sense of patriotism, national integrity, unity, communal harmony and secularism; (ii) to equip all sections of workers for their intelligent participation in social and economic development of the nation; (iii) to develop among workers a greater understanding of the problems of their social and economic environment, their responsibilities, and their rights and obligations as citizens, as workers and as members and office-bearers of trade unions; (iv) to develop leadership from among the rank-and-file of workers; (v) to develop strong, united and more responsible trade unions; (vi) to strengthen democratic process and traditions in the trade union movement; and (vii) to enable trade unions themselves to take over ultimately the functions of the workers’ education.
The Board conducts a variety of workers’ education and training programmes for workers in the organized, unorganized and rural sectors. Programmes for workers in the organized sector include training of trainers, refresher courses for trainers, personality development programme, joint educational programme, need-based seminars, unit-level classes, and functional adult literacy classes. Programmes for workers in the unorganized sector include organizing camps for the purpose of educating them in various areas and special seminars. Special attention is given to the education of women and child labour and workers belonging to weaker sections. The training programmes for workers in the rural sector lay emphasis on rural educators training courses, orientation programmes for rural educators, and organizing rural awareness camps.
Most of the education and training programmes of the organization are conducted by Regional and Sub-regional centres spread in different parts of the country. They organize workers’ education activities at various levels—regional, unit, enterprise and village levels. There are four Zonal Offices of the Board at Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.
The board has set up an apex-level training institutes at Mumbai known as Indian Institute of Workers’ Education (IIWE). The Institute conducts national level training programmes.
The board provides grants-in-aid to trade unions and educational institutions to undertake their own workers’ education programmes of the approved pattern and standards. The grant is available for conducting full or part-time residential and non-residential programmes. The grantees are allowed flexibility regarding subjects to be covered and number of participants. The board also publishes textual and pictorial booklets in English and Indian languages on topics of interest to the working class, and a quarterly journal titled ‘Workers’ Education’.
V. V. Giri National Labour Institute
The Institute was set up in 1974 as a registered society with the objective of undertaking, promoting and coordinating research on labour. It is located in Noida. It is an autonomous organization of the Ministry of Labour. Its affairs are governed by the General Council—a tripartite body. The Union Minister of Labour is ex-officio Chairman of the General Council. The General Council elects an Executive Council which monitors the day-to-day functioning of the Institute. Secretary, Ministry of Labour, is the chairman of the Executive Council.
‘Research occupies a primary place in the activities of the Institute. The subject of research comprises a broad spectrum of labour-related problems in both the organized and the unorganized sectors’.20 The Institute gives priority to action research projects with special emphasis on the problems and issues of labour in the unorganized sector. The institute has so far completed a number of research projects relating to labour market, employment relations, rural labour and agrarian relations, labour history and child labour.
The institute also organizes training programmes for various targets groups including labour administrators of the central and state governments, industrial relations managers, trade union leaders, social partners associated with the elimination of child labour, and representatives of the Panchayati Raj institutions. Other activities of the institute include organizing workshops and seminars, and publications.
As on 31 March 2010, 22 Central Government Industrial Tribunal-cum-Labour Courts set up under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, were functioning in the country.21
Board of Arbitration
The Board of Arbitration was set up in 1968 under the scheme of Joint Consultative Machinery and Compulsory Arbitration—introduced by the Ministry of Labour in 1966. The board of arbitration consists of one full-time chairman, and two other members representing staff and officials sides appointed out of a panel at the time of reference of a dispute to the board. The board is an institution for compulsory arbitration of disputes between employees and the government on matters relating to pay and allowances, weekly hours of work and leave of a class or grade of employees.
LABOUR ADMINISTRATION MACHINERY OF STATE GOVERNMENTS
The machineries for labour administration in the states are similar to those operating at the centre. As explained earlier in the chapter, most of the important labour subjects are in the concurrent list of the Constitution. The central government is empowered to give direction to the state governments and to delegate powers and impose duties on them. Many central labour laws are enforced by both central and state governments in industries or establishments falling under their respective jurisdictions. Examples of such laws: are Payment of Wages Act, 1936; Minimum Wages Act, 1948; Payment of Bonus Act, 1965; Industrial Disputes Act, 1947; Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946; Trade Unions Act, 1926; Maternity Benefit Act, 1961; Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972; Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986; Equal Remuneration Act, 1976; and Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition Act, 1970. There are also labour laws enacted by Parliament, the responsibility for the enforcement of which lies with the state governments. Such labour laws include: Factories Act, 1948; Plantation Labour Act, 1951; Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966; and Employees’ Compensation Act, 1923. Most of the states have their own labour laws such as Shops and Establishments Acts, Holidays with Pay Acts and Industrial Relations Acts. Many state governments have also enacted labour laws supplementing the central enactments. It is relevant here to mention that the industries or establishments falling under the purview of such labour laws which are to be enforced both by the central and state governments are generally much more diversified under the jurisdictions of the state governments than those for which the responsibility lies with the central government. Besides, the state governments have also the responsibility of implementing quite a few non-statutory central programmes in the field of labour and also their own labour and labour welfare programmes.
Generally speaking, labour administration of the state governments is on a pattern similar to central labour administration with slight variations relating to implementing agencies and the requirements of state enactments and non-statutory labour programmes. The main organizations for labour administration in the states comprise (i) Department of Labour and Employment (Secretariat), (ii) Office of Labour Commissioner, (iii) Chief Inspectorate of Factories, (iv) Chief Inspectorate of Boilers, (v) Office of Chief Inspector, Shops and Establishments, (vi) Directorate, Employment and Training, (vii) Directorate, Medical Services (ESI Scheme) and (viii) Adjudication Authorities.
The responsibility for labour administration in the states generally vests in the Department of Labour and Employment (now renamed as Department of Labour Resources), the secretariat of which represents the government side. It is generally in charge of a Minister, who may occasionally be assisted by a Minister of State and Deputy Minister. On the official side, the secretary or the principal secretary is the chief executive. His team generally includes an additional secretary, and a few joint secretaries, deputy secretaries and under secretaries according to requirements. It is this organization that formulates the labour policy of the state, establishes liaison with the central Ministry of Labour, coordinates and guides the activities of enforcing machineries and takes decisions on behalf of the government.
OFFICE OF THE LABOUR COMMISSIONER
The office of the Labour Commissioner plays the anchor role in the labour administration of the states. Majority of labour laws are enforced in the state under the auspices of this organization. A mention of these laws has already been made above. The organization also makes efforts to prevent work stoppages including strikes and lock-outs and to maintain industrial peace. The Labour Commissioner is assisted by joint labour commissioners, deputy labour Commissioners, assistant labour Commissioners, labour superintendents, labour officers and labour enforcement officers or labour inspectors, some of whom are posted in the headquarters, but majority of them operate in different areas or centres of the states.
The Labour Commissioner is generally a conciliation officer under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947; Registrar of Trade Unions under the Trade Unions Act, 1926; Inspector under most of the relevant labour laws; Authority, Controlling Authority, Appellate Authority, and so on under a few labour laws. Of late, a special responsibility of enforcing Minimum Wages Act, 1948, in agriculture has devolved upon this organization. In some states, Directorate of Agricultural Labour has been established to assist the Labour Commissioner. A large number of labour enforcement officers or labour inspectors have been appointed for the purpose. The labour Commissioner also looks after the establishment, arbitration and several other non-statutory programmes. His jurisdiction is the whole state. In some states, the Chief Inspector of Factories and the Chief Inspector of Boilers also report to him, while in others, they function independently. The Labour Commissioner also guides, controls and supervises other functionaries working under him. The joint labour Commissioners, deputy labour Commissioners, assistant labour Commissioners and labour superintendents, and others are also designated as inspectors, conciliation officers, inspecting officers, deputy registrar of trade unions, authorities, certifying officers, employees’ compensation Commissioners, appellate or controlling authorities for the purpose of relevant central and state labour laws and their areas of operation are defined.
CHIEF INSPECTORATE OF FACTORIES
The Chief Inspectorate of Factories is primarily responsible for the enforcement of the Factories Act, 1948. He is generally assisted by a few deputy chief inspectors and a number of inspectors of factories. In some states, apart from the inspectors of regular cadre, other public servants have also been designated as inspectors of factories. Besides implementing the provisions of the Factories Act, 1948—those relating to safety, health, welfare, hours of work, dangerous operations, hazardous processes, leave with wages—the organization has also been entrusted with the responsibility of enforcing the provisions of the Payment of Wages Act, 1936, Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, and the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, in respect of factories. The organization also generally looks after productivity and cooperates with the National Productivity Council in this area.
CHIEF INSPECTORATE OF BOILERS
The main responsibility of this organization is the implementation of the Boilers Act, 1923.
Office of chief inspector or chief inspecting officer has been established in most of the states for enforcing the provisions of the Shops and Establishments Acts, which have been state enactments. In most states, the Acts are implemented by a regular personnel of the Labour Department, but in a few others, the responsibility has been entrusted on local bodies also.
DIRECTORATE, EMPLOYMENT AND TRAINING
This organization primarily looks after the operation of Employment Exchanges, Industrial Training Institutes, Vocational Guidance Programme and some other institutions. The activities of the directorate are essentially governed by the policies, standards and procedures set by the Central Directorate General, Employment and Training. Other activities of the organization include employment market information, vocational rehabilitation centres, and training of handicapped groups such as women and physically handicapped. The training wing of the department also looks after the implementation of the Apprentices Act, 1961. Generally, the directorate functions independently of the organization of Labour Commissioner.
DIRECTORATE, MEDICAL SERVICES (ESI SCHEME)
The main responsibility for the operation of medical benefit under the Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948, lies with the state governments which are required to make available the services of the medical and para-medical personnel. In most of the states, a special wing has been established for the purpose. As the medical benefit under the ESI scheme has been extended also to the family members of the insured persons and superannuated employees, and others the responsibility of the state government in this regard has increased. A Director, Administrative Medical Officer or a Chief Medical Officer under the Labour Department has been made in charge of the wing.
The state governments also constituted Labour Courts and Tribunals under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, and a few of them have set up other adjudication authorities such as Industrial Courts and Wage Boards under state laws.
Apart from the above machineries, the state governments have also set up tripartite Standing Evaluation and Implementation and Committee, Minimum Wage Advisory Boards, and a few of them Labour Advisory Boards, Labour Welfare Boards and Standing Committee for a few industries.
EVALUATION AND SUGGESTIONS
The foregoing discussion has shown that since independence, labour administration in India has expanded enormously. The overall economic growth of the country has resulted in expansion of industries, spurt in trade unionism, increase in the labour force and so forth. These developments created a need for an improved organizational structure of labour administration machineries. As such, under the guidance of constitutional provisions and economic planning, labour administration in India was expanded and revamped. However, certain deficiencies in the system, as also difficulties in operation, have been experienced during the course of working. The more notable among these are highlighted below.
- Experience has shown that whereas labour laws and rules have substantially expanded with the passage of time and the workload of the machineries involved in labour administration has continuously increased, the functionaries involved in it have been numerically inadequate. This deficiency has been explained in the discussion of particular pieces of laws in the preceding chapters. Even a government source has realized the following: ‘Though the industrial activity and the volume of trade and business as also the number of laws on the statute book have increased considerably, the enforcement machinery has not kept pace with the same. Numerically, the machinery is too inadequate.’22 With the existing strength during 2001−02, the Central Industrial Relations Machinery was able to inspect 1.5 lakh establishments once in 5 years or so.23 The position in the states is even more unsatisfactory. Things can materially improve by increasing the strength of the inspecting personnel, and rationalization and decentralization of labour administration with increasing association of workers’ and employers’ organizations at various levels.
- Not only that the enforcing machinery is numerically inadequate, labour administrators are generally assigned multifarious functions—conciliation work, inspection, launching prosecution, enquiries into complaints, hearing and deciding representation—under a wide variety of labour laws and rules. This tells not only upon their efficiency but also upon ensuring compliance with the statutory obligations. The result is widespread violations of the provisions of labour laws and rules, particularly by small and scattered employers. In this regard, the first National Commission on Labour observed, ‘In emphasing the need for all-round improvement in implementation, we wish to draw particular attention to the poor state of implementation in small units and suggest greater vigilance on the side of government in this sector of employment’.24
- Procedures involved in prosecution and cognizance of offences under labour laws and rules also involve genuine difficulties before the enforcing personnel. Inspectors appointed under various labour Acts are required to file and conduct prosecution or claim cases before courts or prescribed authorities. ‘There are several instances where cases in courts situated in different directions were freed for hearing on the same day and cases were dismissed in default on account of non-appearance of inspecting officer’.25 Labour cases before judicial magistrates ‘continue to get the least priority’.26 Very often, inspecting officers are summoned to produce evidence even after they are transferred to other places or after their superannuation or retirement from service.
Besides, on the one side, punishments prescribed for violations of Labour Acts or rules are very low in most cases, on the other, the fines imposed by magistrates are generally much less than the maximum prescribed. ‘All this does not create any deterrent effect and only emboldens the offending employers to continue to violate the provisions of law as complying with the same is costlier alternative than paying a paltry sum as fine’.27 In this regard, the Gajendragadkar Commission suggested, ‘Penalties for non-implementation of labour laws should be deterrent enough for habitual defaulters. A minimum penalty is not suggested, but it is expected that authorities awarding penalties will take a serious view of repeated breaches of law by the same defaulters’.28
In order to ensure an effective enforcement of labour laws, it is necessary to establish sufficient number of courts of judicial magistrates dealing exclusively with offences under labour laws and rules, to simplify the procedures involved, and to set the time limit for the disposal of cases. In this regard, the state governments will have to be more serious and responsive.
- Effectiveness of labour administration depends in large part on the skill and efficiency of the administering personnel. This requires their proper selection and training. Labour has increasingly become a specialized and dynamic subject. It is desirable to develop the cadre of labour administrators from among those who possess specialized qualifications in labour welfare, human resources, social work, personnel management, industrial relations, or allied subjects as has been done in the case of Welfare Officers appointed under the Factories Act, 1948, or rules under the Mines Act, 1952. It is also the right time to give a serious consideration to the establishment of Indian Labour Service in line with other specialized all-India services such as the Indian Engineering Service. The second NCL (2002) has very aptly Recommended the creation of All India Labour Administrative Service and All India Judicial Service.29
- Training of labour administrators is another aspect that needs special attention. Labour administrators have to operate in a variety of areas witnessing regular changes. The existing arrangement of their training at the Central Labour Institutes, V. V. Giri National Labour Institute, training centres of the state governments or other institutions, has not been systematic and up to requirements of the needs of the situation. It needs improvement and new orientation. In this regard, the Recommendations of the National Commission on Labour (1969) are of particular interest. According to the Commission, ‘Persons recruited to the junior-most technical posts in the inspectorate under any legislation should spend some time with an office of an industrial association and a well-organized office of a trade union. They should also acquire familiarity with the working of industrial establishments and visit the dwelling places of workers’.30 The Commission also Recommended the preparation of a manual of office procedure for the benefit of new entrants.
As regards senior officers, the Commission Recommended making such arrangements as will enable them to understand the broader perspective within which they have to establish their utility to the public. New incumbent in senior positions ‘should be enabled to attend collective bargaining sessions, trade union meetings and discussions organized by trade union and professional organizations….’31 The Commission suggested the necessity of refresher courses for officers permanently associated with the offices of the Ministry of Labour and State Labour Departments. The Commission also Recommended a longer tenure of office for the State Labour Commissioners and Labour Secretaries.
- Some other measures which can improve the effectiveness of labour administration in the country comprise giving greater independence to tripartite boards, Corporations and other bodies; making available relevant information to the parties about the position of their legal and other rights and obligations; establishing effective coordination amongst different agencies and functionaries operating in the field of labour administration; establishing clarity and transparency in labour policies and programmes and their execution; and associating organizations of workers and employers at various levels of labour administration.
ROLE OF ILO IN LABOUR ADMINISTRATION
From its very inception, the ILO has given attention to the subject of labour inspection and labour administration. It assists countries in the formulation and development of labour administration and improvement of labour inspection and employment services.
Many Conventions and Recommendations of the ILO deal with labour inspection and labour administration. A particular mention may be made of Labour Inspection Convention (No. 81), 1947, Labour Inspection (Agriculture) Con. (No. 129), 1969, and Labour Administration Con. (No. 150), 1978. The relevant Recommendations are Labour Inspection Rec. (No. 81). 1947, Labour Inspection (Mining and Transport) Rec. (No. 82), 1947, Labour Inspection (Agriculture) Rec. (No. 133), and Labour Administration Rec. (No. 158), 1978. Besides, many other Conventions and Recommendations also contain provisions relating to labour inspection and administration.
The Labour Inspection Convention (No. 81), 1947 requires the government to maintain a system of labour inspection for the purpose of securing the enforcement of legal provisions relating to conditions of work and the protection of workers while engaged in their work, supplying technical information and advice to workers and employers and bringing to the notice of the competent authorities, defects or abuses not covered by law. India ratified the Convention (expect its Part II) in 1949. The Labour Inspection (Agriculture) Convention contains similar provisions for the purpose of enforcement of labour laws and rules in agriculture.
In 1978, the International Labour Conference adopted Labour Administration Convention (No. 150) dealing exclusively with labour administration. The concepts of ‘labour administration’ and ‘system of labour administration’ as explained in the Convention have been mentioned earlier in the beginning of the chapter.
A Member State ratifying the Convention, may, in accordance with provisions of national laws or regulations, or national practice, delegate or entrust certain activities of labour administration to non-governmental organizations, particularly employers’ and workers’ organizations or, where appropriate, to employers’ and worker’ representatives. The Member State may regard particular activities in the field of its national labour policy as being matters which, in accordance with national laws or regulations or national practice, are regulated by having recourse to direct negotiations between employers’ and workers’ organizations. The ratifying Member State is also required to ensure the organization and effective operation of a coordinated system of labour administration. The Member State is further required to make appropriate arrangements to ensure, within the system of labour administration, consultation, cooperation and negotiation between public authorities and the most representative organizations of employers and workers or, where appropriate, employers’ and workers’ representatives. Such arrangements are to be made at the national, regional and local levels and also at the level of different sectors of economic activity.
The competent bodies within the system of labour administration will be responsible for or contribute to the preparation, administration, checking and review of national labour policy and be the instrument for the preparation and implementation of laws and regulations for the purpose. Such bodies are required to take similar measures relating to national employment policy, but taking into account relevant international standards. The ratifying Member State is also required to promote the extension of the functions of the system of labour administration to include activities relating to the conditions of work and working life of appropriate categories of workers who are not in law employed persons such as tenants and share croppers and similar categories of agricultural workers; self-employed workers; members of cooperatives and worker-managed undertakings; and persons working under systems established by communal customs or traditions.
The staff of the labour administration system should be composed of persons who are suitably qualified for the activities to which they are assigned. They should have access to training necessary for such activities and who are independent of improper external influences. They should have the status, the material means and the financial resources necessary for effective performance of their duties.
The Labour Administration Recommendation (No158), 1978, supplements the provisions of the Convention and specifies certain details. Some other Conventions and Recommendations dealing with labour administration and inspection are Unemployment Con. (No. 2), 1919, Employment Service Con. (No. 88) and Recommendation (No. 83), 1948.
Other contributions of ILO in the field of labour administration and inspection include (i) helping Member States in the establishment of efficient labour inspectorates to ensure the implementation and enforcement of labour laws; (ii) identifying gaps in such laws and proposing remedial measures; (iii) advising employers and workers on compliance with relevant laws and regulations; (iv) rendering help to associate employers and workers and their organizations with the efforts of labour inspection services; and (v) strengthening the links between labour inspectorates and the various competent bodies concerned with the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases.
The ILO has set-up the Department for Government and Labour Law and Administration (GLLAD) to deal inter alia with the questions involved in labour administration. The functions of the Department include (i) strengthening ministries and related agencies responsible for labour policy and administration; (ii) promoting labour laws and civil service regulations in conformity with the standards and principles of ILO; and (iii) assisting public sector administrators in establishing effective and constructive relations with their staff representatives. The services offered by the GLLAD include assessments and support for strengthening institutional organization and management; providing information on comparative labour administration systems; and identifying the methods for strengthening labour administration. The department makes efforts at improving information and communication processes and enhancing the quality of labour administration. In 1999, a database on labour administration known as ATLAS was set up. The database is available in three official languages, that is, English, Spanish and French. It provides examples of the organization and operation of national administration systems and enables ILO constituents, labour administration practitioners and ILO experts to have a direct access to the data. The GLLAD ‘intervenes on issues pertaining to its mandate i.e., approaching labour administration systems as a whole, developing them in terms of organization and management, strengthening their influence on national policy and the legislative and bargaining framework in the labour field’.
RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE SECOND NCL (2002)
The second National Commission on Labour (2002) have made significant Recommendations for improving labour administration in the country including creation of All India Labour Administrative Service, All India Labour Judicial Service and establishment of Labour Relations Commissions both at the centre and in the states, and a National Labour Relations Commission. The relevant Recommendations of the Commission are as follows:
- Laws like Payment of Wages Act and Minimum Wages Act should contain a provision for recovery officers to be appointed by the Labour Department, as has been done in the Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 [Par. 11.34].
- Criminal cases under labour laws should be tried by Labour Courts [Par. 11.37].
- Labour Courts should be given powers to issue decrees or initiate contempt proceedings for non-implementation or non-compliance of awards [Par. 11.60].
- A Central Labour Relations Commission should be set up for central sphere establishments, and State Labour Relations Commission should be set up for establishments in the state sphere. Above the Central and State LRCs, there will be the National Labour Relations Commission to hear appeals against the decisions of the two other Commissions. The National, Central and State LRCs will be autonomous and independent. These Commissions will function as appellate tribunals over the Labour Courts. They will be charged with the responsibility of superintendence of the work of Labour Courts [Par. 11.61].
- It is also necessary to improve the knowledge, skills and competence of officers of the Central Labour Service (CLS) to enable them to win the confidence of the employers and workmen. Induction, training and periodical refresher courses are necessary to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the officers of CLS. To improve the status of these officers, there is need for an All India Service like the Indian Labour Judicial Service [Par. 11.70].
- The question of dealing with the existing posts of Assistant Labour Commissioners of the Central Labour Service at the central level and its equivalents at the state level and other central government bodies, as a part of the proposed All India Labour Administrative Service, all needs to be looked into carefully. In countries which have sizeable Indian workers’ population, our Embassies must have Labour Attaches, drawn from officials of the Labour Departments or the CLS and later from the All India Labour Administrative Service [Par. 11.71].
- All inspecting officers charged with the responsibility of the enforcement of multiple enactments should be of adequately high status. Their knowledge and experience should be updated through short-term training and refresher courses [Par. 11.77].
- Labour Inspectorates should draw its programme of selective inspections based on returns submitted by the employing units. Returns with self-certification can be treated as self-inspection report from establishments [Par. 11.78].
- To make conciliation effective, it is necessary to improve the status and competence and calibre of conciliation officers through proper recruitment, training and placement. A Labour and Judicial Service can be formed [Par. 11.79].
- For effective labour administration, there should be legislative back-up for the simplification of laws and procedures through uniform definitions of ‘appropriate government’, ‘workmen’, ‘employer’, and so on; enabling provisions to cover all employments in the unorganized sector under the Minimum Wages Act; speedy recovery of the dues payable to workers; empowerment of the appropriate government to exempt from the provisions of the laws in deserving cases; ensuring that the employment of contract labour is restricted for areas beyond those of core competence; deterrent punishment to make the cost of violation dearer than the cost of implementation; clubbing of the existing set of labour laws into five or more groups pertaining to (i) industrial relations, (ii) wages, (iii) social security, (iv) safety and (v) welfare and working conditions and others and reduction in the number of registers to be maintained and returns to be submitted [Par. 11.81].
- Labour administration should encourage better human resource management practices [Par. 11.82].
- The Works Committee required to be constituted under Section 3 of the Industrial Disputes Act should be substituted by an Industrial Relations Committee to promote inhouse disputes settlement [Par. 11.83].
- The Indian Labour Conference should be an effective forum of review, consultation and formulation or evolution of perspective and polices [Par. 11.86].
- Suggested functions of the Indian Labour Conference would include review of labour situation; consideration of Conventions and Recommendations of ILO for adoption, sounding board for legislative proposals [Par. 11.89].
- The Standing Labour Committee should prepare the agenda for ILC. There should be a Director General of ILC having specific functions [Par. 11.90].
- Tripartite National and State level Councils of Employment should be set up to monitor and plan matters related to employment [Par. 11.92].
- The amendments in the Factories Act should be implemented properly and, if necessary, the responsibilities of non-technical provisions can be transferred to the Labour Inspectorate so that the factory Inspectorate can concentrate on aspects of health and safety [Par. 11.115].
- A competent institution, perhaps on the lines of Occupational Safety and Health Commission of USA, should be nominated to formulate, implement and periodically review a coherent national policy for the establishment and promotion of Occupational Safety Health (OSH) Management System in organizations [Par. 11.129].
- A disaster management plan must be formulated at every unit and industrial estate, and at the city, district, state and national levels [Par. 11.144].32
- Labour administration involves preparation, administration, coordination, checking and review of labour policies And programmes, preparation and enforcement of labour laws and regulations, and establishment and enforcement of standards in the field of labour. An important feature of modern labour administration is the involvement of organizations of employers and workers in various areas and at various levels.
- Labour administration is important from various considerations such as (i) formulation of labour policy consistent with the needs of the economy and community, (ii) establishment of uniformity in labour standards and ensuring their effective observance, (iii) improvement of working and living conditions of workers, (iv) maintenance of industrial peace and harmony, (v) identification of rights and obligations of the parties involved, (vi) promotion of cooperation among the parties and (vii) penalizing those not complying with labour laws and regulations.
- Prior to the First World War, local magistrates were the main machineries for the enforcement of labour laws, most of which were intended to serve the interests of the British employers. Under the Government of India Act, 1919, legislative powers relating to important labour matters were vested in the central government. Provincial governments could deliberate mainly on ‘reserved’ subjects. The main authority for administration of labour matters was vested in the Department of Industries and Labour, which was in charge of a Member of Governor General’s Executive Council, the administrative head of which was the Secretary. Responsibility for labour administration in respect of certain matters was also entrusted to Department of Commerce, Chief Commissioner of Railways and Department of Education and Health. Administration of factory legislation, workmen’s compensation, trade unions and trade disputes was entrusted to Presidencies or Provinces.
- The Government of India Act, 1935, specified three lists-the federal list, concurrent list and provincial list for the purpose of enacting laws by the federal and provincial governments. Only the federal government could deliberate on matters specified in the federal list; both federal and provincial governments could deal with matters in the concurrent list; and matters specified in the provincial list were under the jurisdiction of the provincial governments. Most of the important labour matters were in the concurrent list. With the emphasis on provincial autonomy under the Act, the areas of operation of the provincial governments were considerably enlarged. By 1946, offices of Labour Commissioners and Chief Labour Commissioner had been established in the provinces and at the centre, respectively. By then, Labour Officers, Regional Labour Commissioners and Conciliation Officers had come to be appointed in the provinces or at the centre. Besides, a network of National Employment Service and Industrial Training Institutes had also come to operate in the country.
- It was only after the adoption of the Indian Constitution in 1950 that a systematic organizational structure for dealing with labour matters emerged in the country. In lines with the provisions of the Government of India Act, 1935, in regard to distribution of legislative powers, the Constitution also provides for three lists, namely, union list, concurrent list and state list. Most of the important labour matters have been kept in the concurrent list of the Constitution.
- The main responsibility for labour administration of the Government of India vests in the Ministry of Labour and Employment which presently consists of: (i) the main Ministry (Secretariat), (ii) four attached officers, (iii) ten subordinate offices, (iv) four autonomous organizations, and (v) one arbitration body. The four offices attached to the main Ministry are: (i) Office of the Chief Labour Commissioner, (ii) Directorate General, Factory Advice Service and Labour Institutes, (iii) Labour Bureau, and (iv) Directorate General, Employment and Training. The subordinate offices are Directorate General of Mines Safety, and nine offices of Welfare Commissioners. The four autonomous organizations are: (i) Employees’ State Insurance Corporation, (ii) Employees’ Provident Fund Organization, (iii) Central Board for Workers’ Education and (iv) V. V. Giri National Labour Institute. A number of Tribunals-cum-Labour Courts have been in operation in different parts of the country. There is also a Board of Arbitration functioning in the Ministry.
- The principal labour administration machineries in the states comprise: (i) the main secretariat, (ii) Office of Labour Commissioner, (iii) Chief Inspectorate of Factories, (iv) Chief Inspectorate of Boilers, (v) Directorate, Employment and Training, (vi) Office of Chief Inspector, Shops and Establishments, (vii) Directorate, Agricultural Labour, (viii) Directorate, Medical services (ESI Scheme) and (ix) adjudication authorities.
- Some of the deficiencies in the system of labour administration of the country are: (i) absence of all-India Labour Judicial Service; (ii) inadequacy of well-qualified as well-trained, enforcing personnel; (iii) general insufficiency of inspection machinery; (iv) absence of effective on the job training and refresher courses; (v) inadequate participation of organizations of workers and employers in labour administration; (vi) lack of coordination amongst various functionaries involved in labour administration; and (vii) complexity of procedure in dealing with infringements of labour laws and regulations and undine delay in the disposal cases.
- The role of ILO in promoting and improving labour administration in Member States has been significant. The main contributions of the organization in the field have been: (i) establishing international standards in the forms of Conventions and Recommendations, (ii) extending help to Member States in the establishment of efficient labour inspectorates, (iii) identifying gaps in the relevant laws and proposing remedial measures, and (iv) rendering advice and making available the services of experts to Member States. The organization has established Department for Government and Labour Law and Administration (GLLAD) which has been playing a significant role in improving labour administration in the Member States.
- The second NCL (2002) has made important Recommendations relating to labour administration in the country. Some of more notable of the Recommendations are: (i) establishment of national, central and state Labour Relations Commissions, (ii) creation of All-India Labour Administrative Service and All-India Labour Judicial Service, (iii) enlargement of the powers of Labour Courts, (iv) bringing uniformity in the definitions of important terms under different labour laws, (v) proper recruitment, training and placement of conciliation and other officers, (iv) appointment of recovery officers for recovery of dues from employers where no such provision has been made and (vii) simplification of procedures in dealing with labour matters.
QUESTIONS FOR REVIEW
- Explain the concept of ‘labour administration’ and discuss its scope and importance.
- Present a brief account of the growth of labour administration in India.
- Describe the organization for labour administration of the central government and suggest measures for improvement.
- Explain the main features of labour administration in the states. What steps will you suggest to make it more effective?
- Make an evaluation of the labour administration in the country. What changes will you suggest in it?
- Explain the role of the ILO in the field of labour administration.
Conventions and Recommendations of the ILO relating to labour administration
Labour relations Commissions
Case Study 1
How is responsibility for labour administration distributed among various functionaries and organizations?
Labour matters for legislative deliberations by the central and state governments are included in all the Union, Concurrent and State Lists of the Constitution. The Union List includes participation in international conferences; regulation of labour and safety in mines and oil fields; industrial disputes concerning union employees; union pension; inter-state immigration; labour in major ports, railways, ports, telegraphs and telephones and air transport; and union agencies and institutions for professional, vocational and technical training. The Concurrent List includes trade unions, industrial and labour disputes; social security and social insurance; employment and unemployment; welfare of labour including conditions of work, provident fund, employees’ liability, workmen’s compensation, invalidity and old-age pension and maternity benefits; vocational and technical training of labour; labour in factories, boilers and electricity; inquiries and statistics; and economic and social planning. The State list includes state pension; and relief of the disabled and unemployables.
The organizations involved in the labour administration of the central government include (i) Office of the Chief Labour Commissioner, (ii) Directorate General, Factory Advice Service and Labour Institutes, (iii) Labour Bureau, (iv) Directorate General, Employment and Training, (v) Directorate General, Mines’ Safety, (vi) Offices of Welfare Commissioners, (vii) Employees’ State Insurance Corporation, (viii) Employees’ Provident Fund Organization, (ix) Central Board for Workers’ Education and (x) V. V. Giri National Labour Institute. The organizations concerned with labour administration in the states include (i) Office of Labour Commissioner, (ii) Chief Inspectorate of Factories, (iii) Chief Inspectorate of Boilers, (iv) Directorate, Employment and Training, (v) Office of Chief Inspector, Shops and Establishments, (vi) Directorate, Agricultural Labour and (vii) Directorate, Medical Services (ESI Scheme).
Is a state government empowered to enact labour laws concerning employees of Indian Oil Corporation?
Is the central government empowered to enact laws concerning employees of small shops and establishments?
In which of the above machineries are organizations of workers and employers also associated?
Which are the organizations concerned with the training of workmen?
With the enforcement of which laws is the Chief Labour Commissioner of the central government concerned?
Whose responsibility is it to enforce Employees’ Compensation Act, 1923?
How will you identify the fields of operation of a state Labour Commissioner?
Which are the organizations concerned with the enforcement of social security laws?