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Labour Ministry discusses welfare issues of textile workers
Jul '10
A meeting of the Industrial Tripartite Committee on Cotton Textile Industry was held under the chairmanship of Shri Harish Rawat, Union Minister of State for Labour and Employment. The Committee discussed the issues relating to modification in the Textile Workers Rehabilitation Fund Scheme, flexible working hours, implementation of labour laws in the industry, revival of closed textile units, removal of camp coolie system adopted by textile units, contractualization of labour/ outsourcing/ fixed term employment, setting up of the National Wage Board for textile industry and Minimum Wages. In addition, the Employers' Associations raised the issue of coverage of migrant workers under the EPF and ESIC schemes.

The representatives from workers organizations (BMS, LPF, INTUC, AITUC and CITU), Employers' Federations of the Cotton Textiles sector (Confederation of Indian Industry, Laghu Udyog Bharati and All India Federation of Cooperative Spinning Mills) as well as representatives of State Governments of Maharashtra, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal participated in this meeting.

While there was a consensus between the employees' unions and employers association on the need to modify the Textile Workers Rehabilitation Fund Scheme and banning the Camp Coolie System, the Employees Unions were opposed to the use of contract labour in perennial jobs and sought regulation of overtime for workers keeping their health and security concerns in view. The Employers' Association demanded flexibility in working hours in the form of permission for more overtime per calendar quarter in view of seasonal nature of the industry and high dependence on export orders.

Summing up the deliberation, Shri Rawat underlined the need for progressive management and responsible labour behavior for sustaining harmonious industrial relations as well as maintaining high growth in the economy. He assured the participants that the State Governments will be requested to direct the concerned departments to consider issuing the closure orders so that more closed units are covered under the Textile Workers Rehabilitation Fund Scheme. He further stated that modifications in the Scheme would be taken up with Textile Ministry. As regards banning camp coolie System he assured that the matter will be taken up with the concerned State Governments.

He stressed the need to arrive at a consensus between the workers' organizations and the employers' associations with regard to use of contract labour so that Government can focus on regulation of contract labour which is a part of India's massive unorganized labour who are more vulnerable to exploitation. Talking about minimum wages he emphasized that it is not the minimum wages but the living wages which should be important and he assured the Committee that the Ministry will have a study conducted by the V.V. Giri National Labour Institute in order to assess the spatial dispersion in wages in the textile sector across the country which can then form a basis for discussion on this subject in the subsequent meeting of the Committee.

Press Information Bureau

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