|HR Compliance & Indian Acts||
The term 'labor welfare' is one which tends itself to various interpretations and it has not always the same significance in various countries.
As pointed out by the Royal Commission on Labor, the term 'welfare' as applied to the industrial workers “is one which must necessarily be elastic, baring a somewhat different interpretation in one country form another, according t the different social custom the degree of industrialization and the educational development of workers.” therefore, it is not easy to define the term precisely. Different interpretations are given to the term welfare activities by different people. One definition confines it to voluntary efforts on the part of the employers to provide employees the best conditions of employment in their factories. The other view is that it is anything for the comfort and improvement-intellectual or social-of the employees over the above the wages paid which is not the necessity of the industry nor required by law.
Labor Welfare Practices
Labor Welfare Work by Other Agencies:-
There is two options of labor welfare work by other agencies:
(a) Social Service Agencies: Several social service agencies such as Bombay Social Service League started by the servants of India society and similar leagues in Madras and Bengal, the Shivasena Society, the Bombay Presidency Woman's Council, the Maternity and In fact Welfare Association, the Y.M.C.A. The depressed classes’ mission society and many other mission societies play an important role in organizing the welfare work, both the helping employers and labor and by independent efforts. These agencies have provided various welfare activities, like education, indoor and outdoor games, establishment of co-operative societies, night schools and libraries etc.
(b) Municipalities: A few municipalities and municipal corporations have also taken special welfare measures such as co-operative credit societies, maternities and nursery schools, adult schools, creches, etc. these progressive municipalities are of Bombay, Calcutta, Delhi, Kanpur, Madras, Ajmer etc.
Labor Welfare Activities by Trade Unions: - The welfare work undertaken by the trade union agency is negligible because of lack of organization and financial stringency. Only few unions, like the Ahmadabad Textile Labor Associations, the Mazdoor Sabha of Kanpur, Indore Mill Mazdoor Sangh and Bank Employees Association, have devoted themselves to welfare work. The Ahmadabad textile Labor association spends nearly 30 % of its income on welfare activities.
Labor Welfare Activities by Employers:-
At present, the welfare activities are being brought more and more under the legislation rather than being left to the good sense of the employers. The government has made certain facilities obligatory on the part of employers. The government has made certain facilities obligatory on the pat of employers under legislations. The employers have limited financial resources and moreover their attitude towards labor is apathetic. They consider the expenditure on labor welfare activities as waste of money rather than an investment. Even so, some enlightened employers, on their own initiative, have been doing a bit in the direction of welfare. They have provided medical aids, hospital and dispensary facilities, canteens, fair prices shops, co-operative societies, recreation club etc. these facilities are apart from their liability under various control of state legislations. The Delhi Cloth and General Mills have an Employees Benefit Fund Trust managed by a Board of trustees. This fund is financed by the contribution of a fixed percentage of the amount distributed as dividend, unclaimed wages and fines etc.
Labor Welfare Activities by State Governments:-
State governments have also played an important role in providing the welfare activities to labors in their state. States of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal are the leading states in organizing various welfare activities.
Maharashtra: In 1939, Bombay government organized for the first time in the state the Model Welfare Centers. In 1953, the government passed the Labor Welfare Fund Act and transferred all welfare activities to the Bombay Labor Welfare Board constituted under the act having representatives of employers independent persons and women.
A welfare fund consisting of underutilized fines and unpaid wages, donation etc., was set up. Labor welfare boards maintain a member of labor welfare centers catering to the various welfare activities for workers and their families. The State government also set up an Institute for training Labor welfare officers for the factories in the state.
Uttar Pradesh. In 1937, the government created a new Department of Labor under a commissioner of labor. The department has organized labor welfare centre in almost all big industrial centers. The regular centers are divided in to three categories on the basis of the activities undertaken by them. Nearly all basic welfare facilities like hospitals and dispensaries, libraries and reading rooms, sewing classes, maternity centers, creches in door and outdoor games etc. are provided by these centers. The U.P. Government framed factories welfare offices rules. According to these rules, every factory employing 500 workers or more will have to appoint a Labor Welfare Officers and factories employing 2,500 workers or more will have appoint an additional welfare officer. There are also labor welfare advisory committees, one for the whole state 19 in districts to advise the government in organizing labor welfare activities. The government passed U.P. Welfare Fund Act 1956 to provide funds for welfare activities.
West Bengals. The government started labor welfare centers at different place and the various activities undertaken by these centers are publicity, library, reading rooms, radio, sports, dispensary etc. Each centre is under the charge of a labor welfare worker, assisted by a labor Welfare Assistant and a Lady Welfare Workers.
Other State Governments. The governments of others state have also started labor welfare centers catering to almost all the labor almost welfare facilities. The states have also undertaken the projects of housing for laborers in the state.
Other Welfare Activities of labor welfare activities:-
There are some person of other welfare activities of labor welfare activities
The government of India has set up a Central Board for Workers Education, consisting of representatives of central and state governments, organizations of employers and workers and educations. It established 37 regional centrals to cover important industrial centers. It also provides grants-in-aid to trade unions and institutions for workers, education.
Various schemes for grant of National Safety Awards to factories covered by the Factories Act 1948 and Ports have been instituted for good safety records. Four such schemes are in operation, each having 15 awards for good safety records. Each scheme consists of cash prize and certificates of merit. A National safety council was set up in 1960. Its main function is to conduct seminar, organize file shows in factories and distribute posters on the subject of safety.
Shram-Vir Awards have been instituted for workers in factories, mines, plantation and docks. The awards are given in recognition of meritorious performance-such as suggestions leading to higher productivity or economy or greater efficiency.
Welfare Activities in Railways and Ports of labor welfare activities:-
Railways and major ports of Bombay, Calcutta, Cochin, Kandla, Madras, Marmagoa, Vishakhapattonam and other ports in India have provided various welfare measures for their workers. These facilities include well-equipped hospitals and dispensaries, canteens recreation, education, facilities by running their own schools housing co-operative societies, and fair price shops etc. Railways maintain a Staff Benefit Fund which provides for financial assistance in times of emergencies. A welfare fund has also been established at Madras port for the assistance of workers in distress. A tripartite National Welfare Board for Salesmen has also been established.
Labor Welfare Funds in Mines of labor welfare activities:-
For the welfare of the mine workers, welfare funds have been set up in coal, mica, iron-ore, limestone and dolomite mines.
Various acts were passed for this purpose.
The main acts are-
(i) Coal Mines Labor Welfare Fund act 1944,
(ii) The Mica Mines Labor Welfare Fund Act of 1946,
(iii) The iron-ore Mines Labor Welfare Cess Act of 1961 and (iv) Limestone and Dolomite labor welfare act of 1972.
The finances for the funds are raised through the levy of cess on the production and export. The welfare activities covered under these funds acts are housing, public health an sanitation, medical education and recreational facilities for workers and their is dependent. It also covers provisions of accident and other benefits.
Labor Welfare Funds of labor welfare activities:-
The government of India established Labor-Welfare Funds in government industrial undertakings.
As early as in 1946, the government initiated an experimental scheme to finance welfare activities in government owned by controlled undertakings excluding the undertakings excluding the undertakings under the control of Railway Board and major ports.
These funds were contributory in character and are built form contributions of workers, government grants and receipts from various other sources like film show, fines, profits from canteens etc. initially the scheme what meant for a period of four years only. In view of the keen interest of the workers, the scheme was extended with a condition that there would be a Welfare Fund Committee consisting of representatives of employees and government, to administer the Funds. Funds are in operation, at present, in 269 industrial establishments on voluntary basis.
Factories Act 1948 of labor welfare activities
Prior to Factories Act 1948, various minimum standards as regards lighting, ventilation, fencing of machineries, control of temperature safety provisions etc. were laid down in Factories Act.
In the latest Factories Act 1948, various welfare measures to be undertaken by the employers have been laid down such as washing facilities, first-aid appliances, canteens, rest-rooms, creches etc. The act provides for the proper seating arrangement for the workers and the power is given to the state governments to make rules requiring the representatives of workers in any factory to be associate with the management in regard to the welfare arrangement for the workers. The act also requires the owner of the factory employing 500 or more workers to appoint a Labor Welfare Officer and state governments have been given powers to prescribe the duties, responsibilities, qualifications and conditions of services etc. of these officers, Provisions for welfare of workers also exist in the Indian Dock Laborers Act 1931, the miner act of 1952, the plantation labor Act of 1951, the Merchant shipping Act of 1958, the Motor transport workers Act of 1961, the Bidi and Cigar workers conditions of employments Act 1966, the Contract Labor (Regulation and Abolition) Act of 1970
Labor Welfare Activities Organized by the Government of India
Till Second world war, the government of Indian did very little in the field of labor welfare.
It was during the second world war that the government of India, for the first time, launched schemes for labor welfare in their ordinance, ammunition and other war industries to increase the productivity of the workers and to keep up their morale. With the achievement of Independence and emergence of India as a republic, wedded to the ideal of a welfare State and to a socialistic pattern of society, efforts in thit direction were intensified. Since then, various legislations were passed bringing the matters connected with worker's welfare more and more within the preview of these legislations. A few legislations are given below:
Factories Act 1948.
Labor Welfare Funds.
Labor Welfare Funds in Mines.
Welfare Activities in Railways and Ports.
Other Welfare Activities
Agencies for labor welfare work in India:-
The importance of labor welfare activities in India has been recognized very recently by the employers, by the government and by the other agencies, though the progress in this direction is very slow.
We shall discuss hereunder the various activities organized by the various agencies in India. The labor welfare activities are organized in India by the following agencies:-
The Central Government,
The State Governments,
The Trade Unions
Necessity of Labor Welfare work in India
The necessity of labor welfare work in India can easily be realized if we look into the working conditions of the labor class in Indian industries. India, an industrially backward country, is an its developing stage.
The place of labor in industries in India is not recognized. The principles of personnel management and industrial relations have not been developed in India except in few big industrial units. Commodity concept of labor still prevails in the country. Thus the scope of labor management relations has not been much widened in India while in western countries, the labor is regarded as the partner in the affairs of the industry. The attitude of employers is sympathetic to workers in western countries and provides various welfare facilities as a measure to improve industrial relations and better working conditions.
The money spent on labor welfare work by the employer is bound to react directly or indirectly to their own benefits and to the direct benefit of the employees. If work conditions are improved, it will certainly improve the health and efficiency of the workers and which in turn, increase the production and the productivity of workers. The employer may contribute something towards the amenities of the workers to which the employees spend nothing in India because of their poor financial condition. Labor welfare activities may ensue the employer a stable and contented labor force, lower absenteeism and labor turn over. These results may not have been achieved if the benefits are extended in the form of cash wages, because it may be spent on drinking, gambling and extravagance. It seeks to promote a better standing between the employer and the employees.
Thus labor welfare activities include all services amenities and facilities which are provided by the employer, in or in the vicinity of the undertaking in order to enable the employees to perform their work in healthy and congenial surroundings and provided with amenities conductive to good health and high morale.
Balfour committee has enumerated the various activities as labor welfare activities. According to the committee “In its widest sense it comprises all matters affecting the health safety, comfort and general welfare of the workmen, and includes provision for education, recreation, theft schemes, convalescent houses.” The International Labor conference at its 39th session, adopted a resolution enumerating some of these services and amenities. These include: (i) feeding facilities, in or near the undertaking, (ii) rest and recreation facilities. And (iii) transportation to and from work where ordinary public transport is inadequate or impracticable. The Labor Investigation Committee of the Government of India clears the scope of welfare activities perhaps in the best manner. It says “For the past we prefer to include under welfare activities things done for the intellectual, physical, morale and economic betterment of the worker whether by employer, by government or by other agencies, over and above what is laid down by law or what is normally expected as part f the contractual benefits for which the workers may have bargained. Thus under this definition we may include housing, medical and educational facilities, nutrition (including provision of canteens) Facilities for rest and recreation, comparative societies, day nurseries and crashes, provision of sanitary accommodation, holidays with pay, social insurance measures undertaken voluntarily be employers alone are jointly with worker, including sickness and maternity benefit scheme, provident funds, gratuities and pensions etc.
Thus the term 'welfare' is a very comprehensive term which may include any activity which is connected with the social, morale, economic betterment of workers provide by any agency government employer employees or one other agency. Such activities may differ from country to country and from region to region.