New Delhi,30 Apr:The Minister of State for Labour and Employment (Independent Charge), Shri Oscar Fernandes has greeted the workers on the occasion of May Day. In his May Day message, Shri Fernandes has said that the Government of India has taken several important measures for improving the working conditions and welfare of the working class. In his message, he said that the health insurance scheme for the poor, the Rasthtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) has recently become operational and the Unorganized Sector Workers’ Social Security Bill has been introduced in the Parliament for providing social security measures to unorganized sector workers.
Shri Fernandes said that a number of amendments have been carried out in the central labour laws and the eligibility limit for the payment of bonus has been enhanced to benefit large number of workers. The Minister expressed the resolve of his Government to continuously pursue the efforts to promote the welfare of workers.
Following is the text of the message of the Minister:
“On this day, which happens to be International Labour Day and which represents both strength and sacrifice of the working class, I extend to workers all over the country my warmest greetings and best wishes. This day reminds us that if the stakeholders such as workers, employers, Governments and the Civil Society cooperate we can lay a solid foundation for nation-building.
“The Government of India has undertaken several important measures for improving the working conditions and welfare of the working class. For providing social security measures to unorganized sector workers, a new Bill, namely the Unorganized Sector Workers’ Social Security Bill, 2007 was introduced in the Parliament. Simultaneously, a Health Insurance Scheme for the poor titled ‘Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana’ (RSBY) has become operational from 01.04.2008. Under the scheme, all the Below Poverty Line (BPL) families would be issued smart cards to facilitate cashless transaction up to Rs.30,000/- for seeking medical treatment. In pursuance of Government’s commitment to eliminate child labour in hazardous areas, the National Child Labour Project (NCLP) Scheme has been extended to cover 250 districts. About 3.94 lakh children from special schools of NCLPs have been mainstreamed into the formal education system. The focus is on creating public awareness and effecting the economic rehabilitation of the families of child labour by covering them under benefits of the schemes of various Ministries / Departments. Vocational Training with a view to creating a world-class skilled labour force is being given maximum importance. Action has been initiated for the upgradation of ITIs as Centres of Excellence . Under Skill Development Initiatives (SDI) Scheme, short-term training courses based on Modular Employable Skills (MES) framework for skill development for the school drop-outs and existing workers especially in the informal sector have been developed.
“A number of amendments have been carried out in the central labour laws. The Payment of Bonus Act, 1965 has been amended to enhance the eligibility limit from Rs.3,500/- to Rs.10,000/- and calculation ceiling from Rs.2,500/- to Rs.3,500/-, per month while making employees employed through contractors on building operations eligible for payment of bonus under the Act. The amendments came into force w.e.f. 01.04.2006. The Apprentices Act, 1961, has been amended, inter alia, providing for reservation for Other Backward Classes. The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 has been amended to enhance the medical bonus from Rs.250/- to Rs.1000/- and also empowering the Central Government to increase it from time to time before every three years, by way of notification in the Official Gazette, subject to maximum of Rs.20,000/-.
“Our Ministry lays a great deal of emphasis on the occupational safety and health of workers. It has been further decided by the Ministry to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Factories Act, 1948 by observing the year 2008 as the Year of Industrial Safety & Health so as to further inculcate a culture of safe production for sustainable growth. The National Floor Level Minimum Wage has been increased from Rs.66/- to Rs.80/- per day w.e.f.01.09.2007. The wage ceiling for the applicability of the Payment of Wages Act, 1936 has been increased from Rs.6500/- to R.s10,000/- per month w.e.f.08.08.2008. Two new Wage Boards, one for Working Journalists and other for Non-Working Newspaper Employees have started functioning. Under the Revised Integrated Housing Scheme (RIHS) 2007-08 for beedi workers etc. the central subsidy of Rs.40,000/- per tenement for workers for construction of a house is being released. In order to encourage employment of persons with disabilities , the Central Government will reimburse the employers’ contribution to the Employees’ Provident Fund and Employees’ State Insurance Corporation for the first three years in respect of disabled employees with monthly wage upto Rs.25,000/- working in the organized sector.
With the solemn promise that we would continuously pursue our efforts to promote the welfare of workers, I once again convey my best wishes on this auspicious day”.