This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
Entitled to 6-month maternity leave: HC
Contract workers serving the government are entitled to six-month maternity leave, on a par with regular employees, the high court has held.
The ruling by Justice Anu Sivaraman came after considering two petitions filed by women working on contractual basis under the state. They were allowed maternity leave only for 90 days whereas regular employees were entitled to leave of six months.
A petition filed by Rakhi P V of Nayarambalam and four others was considered as the lead case by the court. The state government had contended that granting sixmonth leave to a woman employed on a one-year contract would obliterate the benefit of the employment.
2016:Rajasthan sets minimum wages
The Times of India Feb 01 2016
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
Enforcing labour reforms in the unorganised sector, the Rajasthan government has fixed minimum wages for domestic help and set limits to their working hours.
According to a recent notification by the state's labour department, the rate for chores for an entire day (defined as eight hours) including cooking, washing, baby sitting and other work has been fixed at a minimum of Rs 5,642 per month. The new salaries come into effect from January 1, 2016.
In case of overtime, employers will have to pay workers double the minimum fixed per hour for each hour beyond the mandated eight hours.
Domestic help hired for just washing dishes and laundry will have to be paid a mini mum Rs 705 per month for a household of four people. If the number of people exceeds four, the help would have to be paid 10% more than the minimum prescribed, per individual.
The Centre is also trying to prepare a national policy for domestic workers. On Au gust 17, 2015, TOI had reported that the Union labour ministry was seeking to ensure minimum salary of Rs 9,000 per month, compulsory paid leave of 15 days a year and maternity leave, apart from social security for domestic help. The minimum wage for domestic helps notified by the Rajasthan government is exclusive of food, clothes, accommodation or other perks that an employer may be providing.
Also, if an employer is paying more than the prescribed minimum wage, then he or she must continue paying the higher amount. Jaipur Servants Association spokesman Abdul Moin said, “This is a good step. Most people who work as domestic helps here are from other states like West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, and Jharkhand, and are unlettered. This will ensure they are paid their minimum amount. In fact, the government should raise the bar higher.“
Dhanraj Sharma, addi tional labour commissioner, said, “Domestic workers were included in Scheduled 27 of the Minimum Wages Act eight years ago. But, we have now fixed the number of working hours for them to ensure they are paid well.“
The department, to ensure implementation, will even press labour inspectors to carry out surprise checks in every district.
“Violators will be liable for prosecution, and domestic worker eligible for compensation as high as 10 times the difference between the minimum wage and the amount he or she was received,“ he added.
In the last couple of years, Rajasthan has emerged as a bellwether state as far as labour reforms are concerned
Data is scarce
We have no interest in informal labour, as data on it is scarce What comes first, the question or the answer? If you believe in numbers, as many social statisticians do, the answer comes before the question. Hence, the chances are that only those issues will be raised which can be resolved through government, or quasi-government, statistics.Anything outside of this is over-spiced and bad for contemplation. It is this attitude that has kept our understanding of informal labour on a low calorie diet, though it gobbles up 93% of our economy. As information on this is sparse, even if the issue is so big, it is convenient to look the other way.This explains the administrative reluctance to bulk up on policies related to this subject. The system works best when answers predate and frame the questions, leaving little to chance. The stage is now set for the policy maker, as diviner, to deliver with a flourish.
This method actually resembles the way religious discourses are conducted. The Church opposed Galileo and Copernicus because they asked questions for which the sacred texts had no answers. As Joshua had bid, in the Old Testament, the sun to stand still and not the earth, therefore, Martin Luther concluded, Copernicus must be wrong. The Catholic establishment even accused Galileo of planting little figures in his telescope and passing them off as planets. Therefore, if the answer is not in the Bible or Quran or Gita ask not that question, admonish religious gurus.
Likewise, as there is very little that is reliable about informal labour, either in the Census, or in surveys (the equivalent of the Bible Quran Gita), it does not count. Information, such as is available, is scattered and sniggered at as `anecdotal'. Consequently, a big chunk of our society is deprived of attention. Numbers don't come easy in the informal sector, especially when commandeered from above and afar.However, our ignorance of these very vital issues does not disturb us too much.
For example, we rarely give any thought to strategising cottage industries, international competition, even worker-management relations, for they all include informal labour. When industrial strife is being discussed, figures tell us of a dramatic drop in strikes over the past three decades. This should mean that shop floors everywhere are buzzing with happy activity .Could it be that the sinister foreman, after a routine body check, swapped his old heart for new? Nor do we know how many unregistered units shut and open shop; or of workers who are routinely fired; or of wages unfairly held back.
As a result, we do not have a measure of what India needs to do to become a global power. If there are so many microenterprises, why are we still poor? Also, why don't graduates from vocational institutes find skilled jobs in the marketplace? When we laud our export earnings, the informal sector is rarely acknowledged, nor the millions who bent their backs night and day. We have not even spared a thought for the health of these units; what if they collapse? The ruling view is that if it ain't broke, and no emergency declared, why break the glass? Instead, we imagine ourselves lounging with the big boys, after elbowing the rat pack out.
The consumer price index falters at the sight of informal labour. Nevertheless, we continue to extrapolate from those figures, even if it hurts. As long as the tag says the size is right, who cares if the shoe pinches? Was demonetisation a success? By all accounts it was an electoral bonanza, yet so many questions remain unasked and unanswered. If livelihoods impact voting behaviour then we should know whether demonetisation affected workers differently. This is particularly so in the case of informal labour simply because of the many varieties they come in.
It is said that many lost their jobs, but who were they? Were those who were employed by the week, or month, worse off as high currency notes would be needed to pay them and these were now demonetised? Did daily wagers fare better, for they could be paid in small change? Or, perhaps it did not matter; they sank or swam randomly.
We can only guess the outcome, but where are the facts? Political analysts could have helped. But instead of asking tough questions on informal labour and voting behaviour, they are obsessed with caste. As many of them suffer from economist envy , they look out for issues where numbers tumble out.
Nor should one argue that precision does not count. It is a good idea when disciplinary questions and real world issues prompt the search for exactitude.When this route less travelled is taken, statistical exercises become legitimate. On the other hand, when it is independently pursued for its own sake, social science becomes a closed box; nothing new is found, nothing new is said. Have wages for informal workers kept pace with inflation? “But we don't have numbers on that,“ says the policy maker. How often have you heard that being said? This is what makes it an egg and chicken issue. As informal labour lacks ready numbers, you can eat it before it is born and after it is dead. Either ways, it does not stand a chance.
India was the largest supplier/ 2016
Accounts For 24% Of Jobs, Tops In Software & Tech India is the largest supplier of online labour, says a recent report, analysing data from e-platforms connecting freelancers with employers. India is followed by Bangladesh, US, Pakistan, Philippines and the UK in what is being termed “digital gig work“ or freelance work offered online. Over half of the online work supplied out of India is dominated by software development and technology sector. Oxford Internet Institute of the University of Oxford published the report last week. It hosts the “iLabour project“ as part of which the Online Labour Index is produced. This report analysed data for the first week of July.
“The largest overall supplier of online labour according to the data is the traditional outsourcing destination India, which is home to 24% of the workers observed. India is followed by Bangladesh (16%) and US (12%). Different countries' workers focus on different occupations. The software development and technology category is dominated by workers from the Indian subcontinent, who command a 55% market share. The professional services category , which consists of services such as accounting, legal services, and business consulting, is led by UK-based workers with a 22% market share.“
While software and technology services was the top sector for India, creative and multimedia services came second, and sales and marketing support was the third most popular online labour sector for the country .
The report analyses data from four online platforms -Fiverr, Freelancer, Guru, and PeoplePerHour. “Based on traffic statistics, we can estimate that these four sites represent at least 40% of the global market for platform-based online work,“ says senior OII research fellow Vili Lehdonvirta.
Labour laws reform
2016: Rs 6,000cr textile package
The Times of India, Jun 23 2016
Govt brings in labour reforms via Rs 6,000cr textile package
The Union Cabinet introduced labour law changes while approving a Rs 6,000-crore package for the textile and apparel sectors. A key element is increase in overtime for workers which should not exceed 8 hours per week, translating into nearly 90 hours over three months. The current norm allows only 50 hours of overtime in three months. “It'll be advantageous for the industry as well as labour,“ said A Sakthivel, who represents industry lobby groups. The new cap on overtime, which meets ILO norms, would help increase earnings of workers, the Centre said. The cabinet on Wednesday approved the introduction of fixed-term em ployment, which was an industry demand to deal with the seasonal nature of demand. A fixed term workman will be considered on a par with a permanent workman in terms of working hours, wages, allowances and other statutory dues.While the move is unlikely to result in higher burden on companies, it provides flexibility in hiring to deal with seasonal rush, especially for exporters.
The government also announced a change in income tax laws to allow for deduction in case more permanent workers are hired by textile and garment units. Instead of the current provision of the benefit accruing if workers are hired for 240 days, the government has now lowered the floor to 150 days. Industry players said this would provide greater flexibility. In what could also become the template for other industries, the government has made it optional for textile industry workers earning less than Rs 15,000 a month to contribute to the Employees' Provident Fund. “The announcement will bring relief for the garment sector where a large number of employees work shortterm and prefer to take full wages without deduction,“ said M Senthil Kumar, chairman of the South India Mills Association.
The move is also significant since the finance ministry has been trying to wean away employees from EPF to the National Pension Scheme. The government said it would bear the entire 12% of the employer's contribution of the EPF scheme for new garment industry employees who are earning less than Rs 15,000 per month, for their first three years of employment.
At present, 8.33% of the employer's contribution is being provided by the government under the Pradhan Mantri Rozgar Protsahan Yojana (PMRPY). The textiles ministry will provide the additional 3.67% of the employer's contri bution, amounting to Rs. 1,170 crores over the next three years. If successful, the labour related changes could become the template for other sectors.Although the government is keen on ushering in reforms in this crucial segment of the economy , it is going slow given the pressure from trade unions, including BMS, which is affiliated to BJP .
The government said a majority of new jobs are likely to go to women as they acount for nearly 70% of the garment industry's workforce. The textile ministry said with policy support, Indian exports could again regain their leadership position. In recent years, apparel exports from Bangladesh and Vietnam have overtaken India's exports. The slowdown in China presents an opportu nity to India to ramp up its shipments in the world market.
India Inc cheered the labour law changes in the sector and said it would help the industry to scale up.
“Flexible labour reforms are critical for the sector as the industry is highly labour intensive and India needs to increase productivity to put up with the growing competition,“ said B K Goenka, chairman, Welspun group and co-chairman of CII national committee on textiles.
Additional incentives under the amended technology upgradation fund scheme were also approved. “The package breaks new ground in moving from input to outcome based incentives by increasing subsidy under the Amended-TUFS from 15% to 25% for the garment sector as a boost to em ployment generation,“ said a government statement. It said a unique feature of the scheme will be to disburse the subsidy after expected jobs are created.
The cabinet also approved enhanced duty drawback coverage. A new scheme will be introduced to refund the state levies which were not refunded so far. The move is expected to cost the exchequer Rs 5500 crore but will boost competitiveness of Indian exports.
Labour unrest/ strikes
Strikes by organised labour, 2013-15- causes and the six worst affected states
HC bars Metro strike: ‘Metro A Public Utility, Stir Not Justified/ Legal’
To the relief of commuters, Delhi high court barred employees of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) from going on a strike. The court said that the metro train was a public utility and a strike did not appear “justified or legal”.
“They (25 lakh metro users) would be greatly inconvenienced if the respondents (employees) go on strike, as also the fact that, prima facie, the action of the respondents does not appear to be justified or legal,” observed Justice Vipin Sanghi, reasoning that sufficient notice had not been given to DMRC by the employees. Conciliation proceedings were also going on, he noted.
DMRC had approached the court on restraining the employees in relation to their notice of June 18 and June 20 on their intent to go on strike. DMRC made the court aware of the settlement arrived at between the rail operator and the striking employees on July 23 last year. The court observed that the issue was over the implementation of the terms of the settlement after the employees claimed that the 2017 terms had not been fully met.
“We will follow the high court’s order and not go on strike,” said Mahavir Prasad, general secretary, DMRC Employees’ Union. “However, our sit-in protests will continue and we will wear black armbands to work.”
Since June 20, DMRC’s non-executive employees have been taking part in sit-in protests at different metro stations and threatening to go on a full strike if their demands were not met. They are seeking a revision in salaries and pay grades and payment of arrears, the right to form a union and formulation of fixed guidelines for sacking an employee.
These employees play a critical role in running the train network, and include train drivers, station controllers, technicians, and operations and maintenance staff. Last year, they had similarly agitated, but a crisis was averted following an agreement. The employees are now claiming that the DMRC management has not kept the promises it made last year.
“People are stuck in the same pay grade for 10 years, when earlier a promotion was given every five years, subject to satisfactory service record,” claimed Prasad. The merging of the Rs 13,500-25,520 grade with the Rs 14,000-26,950 grade too hadn’t been implemented. The employees are now demanding a higher pay grade for non-executive employees in the Rs 20,600-46,500 scale.
A DMRC official refuted these and said pay grades were raised and all arrears had been paid. “DMRC is a good pay master but the non-executive employees are demanding a bigger hike after already been provided one last year,” he said.
Early in the day, Delhi transport minister Kailash Gahlot had offered to intervene in the matter. “Delhi Govt is equally committed to ensuring smooth functioning of DMRC and if needed ESMA would have been invoked,” he tweeted. Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal too referred to the issue in his tweet, in which he said, “Whereas all genuine demands of Metro employees shud be met, strike wud cause inconvenience to lakhs of people. Strike shud not take place. Whereas govt imposing ESMA as last resort, I wud urge employees to not resort to strike (sic).”
Literacy/ educational levels of workers, non-workers
The Times of India, Nov 07 2015
Over 130m of workforce below matric level in India In freshly-released census data on literacy status and educational levels of various types of workers and non-workers in the country , Census 2011 has found nearly 130.2 million of the total 362.6 million main workers to be literate but below matricsecondary level. The census data released on Friday -which gives the distribution of main workers by educational level and age groups -further shows that 104.3 million (28.8%) main workers are illiterates and 71.5 million (19.7%) matriculatesecondary but below graduate level.
Of about 55.5 million marginal workers seekingavailable for work in India, the majority of 21.9 million (39.4%) are illiterates followed by 20.9 million (37.6%) literates but below matricsecondary and 8 million (14.5%) matricsecondary but below graduate.
However, among 60.7 million non-workers seeking available for work in India, the major share is constituted by literates but below matricsecondary (33.6%) followed by matricsecondary but below graduate (31.1%) and illiterate (17.2%).
The decade 2001-11 exhibited 59.2 million increase in literate main workers out of which maximum increase of 20.5 million was reported under the category matricsecondary but below graduate followed by 16.2 million as below matricsecondary and 11 million as graduate and above other than technical degree.
As per overall data, only 4.5% of the country's population is educated up to the level of graduate or above while a majority 32.6% population is not even educated till the primary school level.
Those educated till primary level are 25.2%, middle school 15.7%, matric 11.1%, higher secondary 8.6% and graduate and above 4.5%.
During the decade 200111, improvement was observed at middle and above educational levels even as there was decline in percentage share at lower levels (below-primary and primary).
2018/ Salaried vs. casual; men vs. women
‘Salaried work longer than casual staff’
Men Work Slightly More Than Women In A Week: Study
Salaried male workers work more hours in a week than casual labourers in rural and urban areas of the country, a report released by the National Statistics Office (NSO) has showed.
The periodic labour force survey (PLFS) unveiled earlier this month showed salaried male workers worked an average 58.1 hours in rural areas and 60.3 hours in urban areas during the January-March quarter of 2018. The National Sample Survey organisation had carried out the survey for four quarters since July-September 2017.
In all the quarters, evidence emerged that salaried workers both male and female worked more hours in a week than casual labourers. In the April-June quarter of 2018, the survey showed female salaried workers put in 49.5 hours in rural while in urban areas it was 52.7 hours.
In contrast male casual labourers worked 44.2 hours and women 37.7 hours during the April-June quarter of 2018 while in urban areas it was 45.1 hours for male casual labourers and 40.2 hours for females in the category.
Among all the categories of workers, casual labour generally worked the least number of hours in a week and average hours actually worked ranged from 44 to 46 hours by rural male casual labour, 37 to 39 hours by rural female casual labour, 45 to 49 hours by urban male casual labour and 39 to 42 hours by urban female casual labour.
“It is possible that casual labourers are not engaged in continuous work. Therefore they may be working for less number of hours compared to those who have a regular job. Female workers take up part time jobs as they have to support their families,” said Soumya Kanti Ghosh, group chief economic adviser at State Bank of India while explaining the numbers.
Male salaried workers also put in more hours in a week at work than female workers in urban and rural areas. In the April-June quarter of 2018, male salaried workers worked an average 57.8 hours in rural area and 60.1 hours in urban centres. Women employees in the same category worked 49.5 hours in a week in rural areas, while in urban areas it was 52.7 hours.
In the self-employed category, male workers worked 50.5 hours in a week in the rural areas while women worked 37.4 hours. In urban areas, self-employed males worked 58.5 hours in a week while females worked for 41.5 hours.
2015: monthly wage adequate for unskilled worker with family
The Times of India, Sep 04 2015
A labour ministry document argued that by current norms, prices and calorific needs, Rs 6330 per month is the monthly wage adequate for an unskilled worker with a wife and two small children.
The Times of India adds: How did the government calculate their proposal? A look at the fine print shows a slew of gross under-estimations and the use of an archaic formula first spelled out way back in 1957. Some of the food items' prices are far from reality . For instance dal is costed at Rs 65 but only one of the various dals in the market -chana or gram dal comes in this range. Arhar (tur) is Rs 135 per kg, urad is Rs 117.5, masur is Rs 95. All these current retail prices are from the consumer affairs ministry's price monitoring data spanning 81 cities and towns.
2004-18: labour force participation
Women entrepreneurs in India, presumably as in 2019
2004-18: Female labour force participation
2016>20: Women in private sector rise 19%>, 26%
India Inc appears to have moved the needle on gender diversity over the past four years. An average of seven sectors that a study by Avtar Group covered shows women’s representation has risen from 18.7% in 2016 to 25.7% in 2019, and it is expected to cross 26% this year.
The report is based on data from across 353 companies that employ more than 10 lakh women. Sector-wise, it’s a mixed bag though. Consulting, fast-moving consumer goods and information technology and information technology-enabled services (IT and ITeS) are expected to inch up on the percentage of women’s representation in 2020 while pharmaceuticals and hospitality could see a dip.
Saundarya Rajesh, founder president of Avtar, said, “Consulting industry has a greater diversity consciousness. With more women pursuing MBAs, the FMCG sector has enhanced its gender diversity quotient. On the other hand, manufacturing, which is the lowest in terms of women’s representation (8% in 2019), is expected to bounce back this year to over 10%. The initial blip in women’s representation in manufacturing could be an effect of market conditions.” Women’s representation in consulting, which has their highest representation in India, is estimated to reach 44% by 2020.
More than half the women who never get past school end up doing full-time house work. But nearly 95% of those who study till graduation or get a diploma escape the drudgery of domestic chores, says the Economic Survey 2020.
Continuing education past school level dramatically improves the prospects of women to be employed, it says, expressing concern over declining female labour force participation ratio. Failure to acquire skills or attain the desired level of education keeps them out of the job market and ties them down to household chores for all their productive years, the Survey says.
An analysis of the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) 2017-18 shows that for the productive age group (15-59 years), only 5.3% of highly educated women (graduate and above) are engaged in full-time domestic duties while the figure for those educated up to secondary level is 54.6%.
Worryingly, among women aged 30-59 who dropped out of school, the proportion of those doing domestic duties increased from 46% in 2004-05 to 65.4% in 2017-18. In the age group of 15-59 years, about 60% of women were outside the labour market, stuck to domestic duties, compared to less than 1% of males.
The Economic Survey goes on to cite data share analysis, based on various rounds of NSO-Employment and Unemployment Survey and Periodic Labour Force Survey 2017-18 estimates. As per the data, female labour force participation ratio (LFPR) for productive age-group (15-59 years) shows a declining trend. Female labour force participation declined by 7.8 percentage points from 33.1% in 2011-12 to 25.3% in 2017-18. “To understand this trend, the activity status of females outside the workforce was examined separately for youth (15-29) as well as for the age groups (30-59 & 15-59),” it says.
Female LFPR is higher in rural areas than urban areas, and rate of decline was also sharper in rural areas.
In 2017-18, more men (10.5%) were unemployed than young women (3%). Proportion of youth in educational institutions has risen faster from 23% in 2004-05 to 38.5% in 2017-18 for young males, while for young women proportion almost doubled from 15.8% in 2004-05 to 30.3% in 2017-18.
It concludes that despite extensive studies to explain the drop in female work participation, there is no consensus among scholars.
2019: the quality of women’s representation
Representation of women in the workforce has been dipping, both in terms of numbers and quality, says a joint report by the United Nations Global Compact, a conglomeration of corporate bodies, and Grant Thornton that was released, a day ahead of International Women’s Day.
The kind of work women find representation in has, meanwhile, been heavily skewed towards those that require soft skills — BPO, teaching and desk-based jobs — and not those that need managerial skills. Earlier, the Global Gender Gap Report, released by the World Economic Forum in 2019, had said women across the world would need 257 years to get economic parity with men. That parity is directly linked to the space women find in workplace.
“Barriers to women’s involvement vary by industry and, often, reflect industry cultures as well as overarching economic and social factors … Women are preferred in teaching, clerical and low-level jobs,” the latest report says. This translates into women not getting opportunities to take ownership of work they do. For instance, while 75% of farmers are rural women, only 13% own their land.
On similar lines, having women in leading positions in the workplace creates a more inclusive space. The evidence is compelling. Representation of women in businesses owned by women is very high — 90% in the manufacturing sector and 81% in the services sector. To put this in context, the labour force participation of women across sectors is 24.8%, down from 34% in 2006.
“A look at this year’s Fortune 500 India list shows only 29 companies have women leaders with executive powers — majority of which are in the banking and financial services sector,” the report says. This, however, does not mean the banking and financial services sector is doing better. The quality of representation, too, matters. “In general, banks tend to have a higher percentage of female workforce working as clerks than in other positions. Public sector banks have a higher share of female subordinates than private sector banks,” it adds. The report mentions that progressive iniatives to connect women to economy have been made from time to time. “For example, under Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, women hold 53 % of bank accounts,” it says.
Transport sector: India for how Indians Commute to work