Friday, May 04, 2007
| LABOUR MINISTRY PROPOSES AMENDMENTS IN PLANTATION
LABOUR ACT AND EPF & MP ACT TO MAKE THEM MORE STRINGENT
|The Minister of
State(Independent Charge) for Labour and Employment, Shri
Oscar Fernandes has said that the Government proposes to
make Plantation Labour Act, 1951 more stringent to ensure
welfare and safety of workers. Addressing the meeting of
the Parliamentary Consultative Committee attached to his
Ministry here yesterday evening, Shri Fernandes said that
eleven changes including incorporating a new chapter are
proposed for amending the Act. He said safety precautions
should be made part of the Act particularly in handling
of agro-chemicals specially insecticides and herbicides.
He said it is also necessary to amend the Act to enable
the Central Government to prohibit, restrict or regulate
employment of women and children below 14 years for handling
hazardous chemicals in plantations. Shri Fernandes said
that the basic approach to changes in the Act should be
to increase the competitiveness of the plantation industry
and to build on the capacity of the workforce employed in
The Labour Minister also referred to proposed amendments
in the Employees’ Provident Fund and Misc. Provisions Act
(EPF & MP Act) to secure compliance and to arrest the
default by establishments. He said that his Ministry is
aware of the default by some establishments and the amount
of arrears outstanding is around Rs. 2,500 crore which is
a little over one per cent of the total progressive collection.
The Minister said that one of the measures taken by the
EPFO to curtail default and improve service delivery is
embarking on a total computerisation process. Its aim is
to identify the default immediately on its occurrence and
also to provide service delivery on anywhere, anytime basis.
He said the project is now at a critical stage and the trial
run in the pilot offices is already on. It will be soon
replicated in all the field offices of the EPFO, he added.
Participating in the meeting, the Members of Parliament,
Shri Gurudas Dasgupta and Shri Dawa Narbula welcomed the
proposed amendments in the Plantation Labour Act and the
EPF and MP Act. They said that these Acts should be implemented
more effectively particularly in tea gardens where they
alleged that the Plantation Act is not being implemented.
They also said that managements of plantations are committing
default by not depositing EPF deductions of the employees
which they said is a serious offence. Shri Gurudas Dasgupta
said that the default is maximum in Jute and Tea industry.
He said that the non-payment of the employees share to Employees’
Provident Fund should also be made punishable with imprisonment
like the non-payment of employees share. Shri Fernandes
said that the Ministry would look into these issues.
The Labour Secretary, Smt. Sudha Pillai told the meeting
that V.V. Giri National Labour Institute has undertaken
a study for strengthening of labour laws.
Earlier, the meeting, which was also attended by senior
officials of Labour and Commerce Ministries, condoled the
death of sitting member of the Parliamentary Consultative
Committee, Shri Chittabrata Majumdar who died in February
this year. In a condolence resolution, it was stated that
in Shri Majumdar’s passing away the country has lost a prominent
trade unionist and able parliamentarian. The meeting observed
one minute’s silence in honour of late Shri Majumdar.
MLD/LK/L-257(parl. Consl. Comm. Meeting)(4.5.07)