Compliance of Labour Laws for contract labour employed in Railway especially for payment of minimum wages by Contractors Labour hired in various Railway departments
Indian Railways executes a wide range of works for creation, repair and ·maintenance of its various assets including stations, coaches, wagons, coaching depots, locomotives, tracks etc. Sometimes, contracts are also entered for rendering services too. Some of these works/services are executed by way of outsourcing to external agencies (Contractors) who work for the Railways and engage labours for carrying out the work.
According to a recent communication of Railway Board, Ministry of Railways, it has been noticed that contractors are indulging in many irregularities especially in payment of wages to Contract Labour employed in various Railway departments are not being paid Minimum Wages as per the latest Minimum Wages orders.
As per the allegations, some unscrupulous Contractors are resorting to following strategies to deceitfully deprive Contract Labour of their rightful wages:
(i) Payment of less wages through cash; and
(ii) forcibly grabbing, beforehand , of ATM/Debit Cards of Contract Labour so that Contractors can withdraw, unauthorisedly part of the wages (paid in the bank directly) received by Contract Labour.
The Board has reiterated that non-payment of minimum wages to the workers is a criminal offence since it violates the statutory provisions and such unscrupulous Contractors are liable to be taken up under relevant punitive/penal proceedings. Since Contract Labour are engaged by various departments of Zonal Railways, PUs , it is incumbent on the Principal Heads of the departments to put in place a robust mechanism so that no violation of labour laws takes place in their respective departments.
The Board has directed that whenever any complaint is received in this regard, stringent deterrent penal actions should be taken by following due procedure by blacklisting the guilty contractors and their Contract should be terminated following the due procedure, apart from initiating criminal proceedings against them with the help of Labour department officials.
Since, non-compliance of terms and conditions of GCC entails violation of contractual obligations, any reluctance on the part of a contractor toward minimum wages to contract labour, for the period during which he had admittedly worked, is violative of contract conditions, illegal, unfair and violates the Fundamental right of the Right to Life.
The Board has directed the Railways to ensure the compliance of the labour laws (particularly registration as Principal Employer ensuring that Contractors have requisite license and ensuring other beneficial provisions) and related orders as well as to see that payment of minimum wages to the contract labour engaged directly (Such as Para-medical staff etc.) or through Contractors is ensured, both in letter and spirit.
EPFO, taking note of the above has issued a letter to all zones/regions to to cover all eligible contract workers and ensure compliance by the all offices of Indian Railways.
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