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India: Migrant domestic workers need legislative support

India: Migrant domestic workers need legislative support

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by IDWFED published May 18, 2013 12:00 AM
Promising to engage with trade unions on their demands, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on May 18 urged them, as well as the industry, to focus on discussions for the welfare of migrant and domestic workers working in unsafe conditions.

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Read the original article in full: Migrant, domestic workers need legislative support: PM | Business Standard

Promising to engage with trade unions on their demands, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on May 18 urged them, as well as the industry, to focus on discussions for the welfare of migrant and domestic workers working in unsafe conditions.

“These groups not only need special legislative support, but also a more effective implementation of the existing laws for their protection and well-being,” he said, inaugurating the 45th Indian Labour Conference here. However, he stayed clear of the conference’s agenda, which included a demand to recognise as “workers” those hired for central social sector schemes, a proposal to implement a single labour law for small and medium industries, and skill development.

Singh mentioned the government’s recent initiative to hold talks with unions that have been agitating for the past two years. He said the government had paid attention to the issues trade unions had raised from time to time. “There may, however, be differences on the best ways of fulfilling these demands and we are willing to engage constructively with trade unions in this regard,” he said. A group of ministers, under Finance Minister P Chidambaram, had been set up to consider the entire gamut of demands of the trade unions, he said, adding, “I am confident soon, you will see some forward movement on these demands.”

“The recent two-day strike by trade unions focused on a number of issues related to the welfare of not only of the working classes, but also the people at large. These include demands on which there can be no disagreement. For example, the demands for concrete measures to contain inflation, generate employment opportunities and strictly implement labour laws are unexceptionable,” he said.

A few other demands were in advanced stages of consideration by the government, he said. These include universal social security cover for workers in the organised, as well as the unorganised sectors, the creation of a national social security fund, fixing a national-level minimum wage and minimum pension of Rs 1,000 a month, under the Employees’ Pension Scheme.

The Cabinet has already approved amendments to the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, to provide a statutory national minimum wage.

The prime minister said between 2004-05 and 2009-10, 20 million job opportunities were created. During the same period, the country’s unemployment rate fell from 8.3 per cent to 6.6 per cent, despite the global meltdown, he added.

Simpler labour laws for MSMEs

At the conference today, most trade unions opposed the exemption of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) from labour laws. The unions also demanded the harassment to MSMEs, in terms of demands from labour inspectors, be done away with.

Labour Minister Mallikarjun Kharge said an attempt was being introduce a single law for the MSME sector. He added the Bill was pending with the Rajya Sabha, owing to opposition from Left parties. Tapan Sen, Member of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha and member of the Centre for Indian Trade Unions, said he hadn’t opposed the Bill because it sought a single law for MSMEs, but because it sought to define small-scale industries as units with at least 40 workers, rather than 19. “I opposed it only on that ground. Otherwise, I have nothing against a simpler law for small-scale units,” he said.

Labour Secretary Mrutyunjay Sarangi said by tomorrow, a decision would be taken on resolving the labour woes faced by small scale units. “It is a workers’ parliament; whatever is decided here, would be implemented,” he said. Even if there was no separate law for small-scale units, simplification of labour laws for these units might be agreed upon, he added.

Photo: itupictures/FLICKR

Source: Business Standard

Story Type: News

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