Admitting that close to 300 lakh casual workers are not covered by labour laws, the labour ministry on Wednesday said that the government was considering making amendments to the Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Act of 1970.
According to an estimate made by VV Giri National Labour Institute, the number of contract labourers engaged by licensed contractors was 14 lakh in central departments and PSUs and 46 lakh at the state level as on March 2009.
“The number of contract labourers not covered under the Contract Labour Act is estimated to be over five times the number covered,” minister of state for labour Kodikunnil Suresh said in a written reply to Rajya Sabha. “Contract labourers are being paid less wages than those given to the regular workers of a principal employer even though contract labourers perform the same or similar kinds of work,” he said, slamming India Inc for flouting labour laws.
Which is why, he said the government was considering a proposal to amend the Contract Labour Act. In recent years, the growth in contract labour force has far outpaced regular employment as companies struggle to cut cost in times of an economic slowdown.
According to the government’s annual survey, the unemployment rate in India increased to 3.3% in 2011-12 from 2% in 2009-10 and 2.3% in 2004-05. India’s employed labour force increased to 465.48 million at the end of March 2010 from 459.10 million at the end of 2004-05 and 397 million in 1999-2000.