The Union Minister for Labour & Employment, Shri Mallikarjun Kharge has extended his greetings and best wishes to workers all over the country on the occasion of May Day 2010. In his Message, the Minister highlighted several important measures taken by the Government for improving the working conditions and welfare of the working class. The following is the text of his “May Day Message”:
“1st of May happens to be the International Labour Day which represents both the contribution and sacrifice made by the working class. I extend to workers all over the country my warmest greetings and best wishes. This day reminds us that if the stakeholders such as workers, employers, Governments and the Civil Society cooperate , we can lay a solid foundation for nation-building.
I take this opportunity to point out that in the recent past the Government of India has undertaken several important measures for improving the working conditions and welfare of the working class. For providing social security measures to unorganized sector workers, a new Act, namely the Unorganized Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008 has been enacted. Simultaneously, a Health Insurance Scheme for the poor titled ‘Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana’ (RSBY) has become operational from 01.04.2008. Under the scheme, all the Below Poverty Line (BPL) families would be issued smart cards to facilitate cashless transaction up to Rs.30,000/- for seeking medical treatment. About 1.4 crore smart cards have been issued so far.
In pursuance of Government’s commitment to eliminate child labour in hazardous areas, the National Child Labour Project (NCLP) Scheme has been extended to cover 271 districts. About 5.21 lakh children from special schools of NCLPs have been mainstreamed into the formal education system. The focus is on creating public awareness and effecting the economic rehabilitation of the families of child labour by covering them under benefits of the schemes of various Ministries / Departments.
Vocational Training with a view to creating a world-class skilled labour force is being given maximum importance. Action has been initiated for the upgradation of ITIs as Centres of Excellence. Under Skill Development Initiatives (SDI) Scheme, short-term training courses based on Modular Employable Skills (MES) framework for skill development for the school drop-outs and existing workers especially in the informal sector have been developed. The National Skill Development Policy has been announced.
A number of amendments have been carried out in the central labour laws. The Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923 was amended, inter-alia, to make it gender-neutral . The amendment was notified on 23.12.2009 and was made effective from 18.01.2010. The Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 was amended to cover teachers in educational institutions in the Act. The amendment was notified on 31.12.2009 and was made effective from 01.07.1997. The Bills to amend the Plantation Labour Act, 1951 to change the definition of ‘employer’, ‘family’, and ‘worker’ and bring in safety provisions, the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 to change the definition of appropriate government , enhance the wage ceiling from Rs.1600/- to Rs.10,000/- per month to cover workmen in supervising capacity and the Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948 to more effectively utilize the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation infrastructure to meet the medical insurance requirements of the workforce in the unorganized sector have been introduced in the Parliament.
Our Ministry lays a great deal of emphasis on the occupational safety and health of workers. The National Policy on Safety, Health and Environment at Workplace and the National Policy on HIV / AIDS and the World of Work have been announced. The National Floor Level Minimum Wage has been increased from Rs.80/- to Rs.100/- per day w.e.f.01.11.2009. In the Central Sphere , minimum rates of wages were revised for workers in the Employment of ‘Construction’, ‘ loading and unloading’ and ‘non-coal mining’ w.e.f 20.05.2009 in the range of Rs.120/- to Rs.240/- per day for different categories of workers. The computerization plan of the Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) is being implemented with the help of NIC. Several new initiatives have been undertaken by Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) to improve the quality of delivery of service under ESI Scheme. New geographical areas are also being covered, an IT Roll Out Plan is being implemented and Medical Education Projects are being taken up.
While reiterating that we would continuously pursue our efforts to promote the welfare of workers, I once again convey my best wishes on this auspicious day”.