Rights of Labours under the Indian Constitution.

Rights of Labours under the Indian Constitution.

Author: Raj Aryan from Lloyd Law College and Livya P. Lalu from Delhi Metropolitan Education, Noida.

Indian Constitution provides innumerable safeguards for the protection of labor rights. The Constitution of India provides the basis for laws regulating employment and labor in India. The fundamental rights mentioned in the Constitution provide inter alia for an equal opportunity before the law and prohibition of discrimination based on religion, caste, sex, etc. Similarly, the “Directive Principles of State Policy‟ laid down in Part IV of the Constitution adjure the State to inter alia ensure that all citizens have an adequate means of livelihood, right to education, and just and humane conditions of work, and to further ensure participation of workers in the management of industries. The Constitution hence emphasizes the concept of social justice as one of the fundamental objects of State policy, and these protective provisions edify the spirit of Indian industrial laws. This means that subject to certain conditions, both the Parliament of India as well as the individual State legislatures have the power to enact laws on these matters.

Fundamental Rights On Rights Of Labours:

The Indian constitution provides several acts and provisions to protect the rights of labour and provide them with the platform wherein the labours can be heard and not exploited. Articles 14, 19, 21, 23 and 24 comprise of fundamental rights promised under part III of the Constitution. Articles 38, 39, 39A, 41, 42, 43,43A and 47 form part of the Directive Principles of State Policy under Part IV of the Constitution, but they are not enforceable in a court of law. Article 39, 39A, 41, 42, 43 and 43A collectively can be termed “Magna Carta of the working class in India.”

· Article 14 commands the State to treat any person equally before the law.

· Article (19) (1) (c) grants citizens the right to form associations or unions.

· Article 21 promises the protection of life and personal liberty.

· Article 23 prohibits forced labour.

· Article 24 prohibits the employment of children below the age of fourteen years.

· Article 39(a) provides that the State shall secure to its citizens an equal right to an adequate means of livelihood.

· Article 39A provides that the State shall secure equal opportunities for access to justice to its citizens and ensure that such opportunities are not denied because of economic or other disabilities.

· Article 41 provides that within the limits of its economic capacity the State shall secure for the Right to work and education.

· Article 42 instructs State to make provisions for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief.

· Article 43 orders the State to secure a living wage, decent condition of work and social and cultural opportunities to all workers through legislation or economic organization. And

Article 43A provides for the participation of workers in the Management of Industries through legislation.

Some more fundamental rights of labors are:

  • The right to have safety equipment.
  • Right to clean and healthy environment.
  • The right to get maternity allowances and relief.
  • The right to raise obligations on unnecessary deductions underpayment of wages act.
  • Right to incentives from employers in case of accidents and loss.

Acts To Protest The Rights Of Labours:

The Trade Unions Act, 1926: The Act seeks to provide for the registration of Trade Unions in India and the protection of the same.  Further, the Trade Unions Act also in certain respects defines the law relating to registered Trade Unions like mode of registration, application for registration, provisions to be contained in the rules of a Trade Union, the minimum requirement for membership of a Trade Union, rights and liabilities of registered Trade Unions, etc.

The Minimum Wages Act, 1948: The act provides for fixing minimum rates of wages in certain employment sectors. The minimum wages are prescribed by States through notifications in the State’s Gazette under the Minimum Wages Rules of the specific State. It is the exclusive right of the workers to get wages at the minimum rate. Also, it is the obligation upon the employers to provide wages at the minimum rate. Any contravention to the provision of minimum wages can hold the employer liable for punishments under section 22 of the minimum wage act.        

Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986: The Constitution of India incorporates provisions to secure labour protection to children. It expressly prohibits the employment of a child below the age of 14 years in work in any factory or mine or engagement in any other hazardous employment. The policy of the Government is to ban the employment of children below the age of 14 years in factories, mines, and hazardous employments and to regulate the working condition of children in other industries. The Government enacted the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986 (the Child Labour Prohibition & Regulation Act), which prohibits the employment of children who have not completed their 14th year in 16 occupations and 65 processes like cinder picking, cleaning of ash pits, building operation, manufacturing or handling of pesticides and insecticides, and manufacturing of matches, explosives, fireworks, etc.

Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976: The act is prohibiting legislation which provides for the abolition of the bonded labor system to preventing the economic and physical exploitation of the weaker sections of the society, and matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. Under the Bonded Labour Abolition Act, the term “bonded labor” has been defined to mean any labor or service rendered under the bonded labor system.

There area unit variety of cases during which the Supreme Court helped to advance the rights of girls and strike down those laws or practices that were discriminatory. Though, this may not be true in the case of all women workers. One of the earliest challenges came from Ms. Muthamma (who died only recently), a senior Indian Foreign Service Officer. In 1978 she filed a legal instrument petition stating that bound rules within the Indian bureau (Recruitment, cadre, seniority, and promotion) Rules, 1961 were discriminatory. The rules if truth be told as long as no spouse would be entitled as of right to be appointed to the service. A girl member was needed to get the permission of the government in writing before her wedding was solemnized which she might be needed to resign if the government was glad that thanks to her family and domestic commitments she was unable to discharge her duties expeditiously.

The Supreme Court affected these rules on the bottom that they profaned the basic right of girls workers to equal treatment in matters of public employment underneath Article 16 of the Constitution.

Similarly, in AIR India v. Nargesh Mirza, the discriminatory regulations of Air India were challenged. The laws failed to enable the Air Hostesses to marry before finishing four years of service. If anyone of them got married inside that amount that she had to resign and if she got married when four years, however, became pregnant at that time she still had to resign. If she neither got married before the four-year amount was over or married solely when the four-year amount and failed to become pregnant she may solely continue in service until she earned the age of thirty-five.

These provisions were challenged in this case, while the Supreme Court did not accept all the contentions. It said that Air Hostesses were a separate category and therefore those regulations could not be termed discriminatory. It was an affordable classification as in their scenario each in spirit and purport the categories was primarily totally different. It, however, regarded the supply of the physiological state as being unreasonable and discretional and thus offensive of Article 14.

Judiciary Protest and Amended Rights Of Labour:

Labour has always been exploited in different ways at very different locations but at the same time, there is the judiciary, who acts as the final interpreter of the Constitution of India. Indian Judiciary is in itself a government who has works as an organization and has their officials. This is the reason for the judiciary being not yet corrupted and works for the betterment of society and the people. Judiciary has the work of settling disputes and give way to live by making a better society to live in. Impact of Judiciary on labor can be understood with the help of cases which are as follows:

In the case of Bandhua Mukti Morcha v. Union of India, there was the existence of bonded labor and even the workmen were made to work under brutal conditions which in itself was violating the labor laws. It was held that the way these laborers were made to work violates the fundamental rights of the workmen and further it was said that the right to live with dignity is a part of article 21 and the same needs to be guaranteed by the state.

In the case of Delhi Transport Corporation v. D.T.C. Mazdoor Congress, regular employees have terminated on the basis that their work was not satisfactory. It was held by the Supreme Court that the termination of a permanent employee without giving a reasonable reason was against the principles of natural justice and also found to violate article 14.

In the case of Randhir Singh v. Union of India, the salary of the petitioner as a driver in Delhi Police Force was very less as compared to the salary of other drivers employed at the same place. The Supreme Court had held that Article 39(d) lone with articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution provides for the provision for equal pay for equal work both men and women; and so directed to fox a salary of drivers of Delhi Police Force and Delhi Administration.

In the case of Olga Tellis v. Bombay Municipal Corporation,  the slum and pavement dwellers were being evicted who used to reside there either in search of work or the current working in industries or at some places. It was held that the right to livelihood was also included under the scope of the right to life i.e. article 21 and their eviction has been stopped.

Likewise, there are many more judgments that have been given in favor of labor which needs to be looked upon to get a rough idea of rights labor have and they enjoy.

The Debate On Right To Labours In Contrast With Article 51A:

The fundamental duties given under Article 51A of the Constitution of India are not enforceable that is one cannot move to any court against anyone for violation of Article 51A.

There are few provisions, which if violated lead to punishable offense. Like provisions stated in Article 51A (a), which tells that every citizen of India must respect our National Flag as well as National Anthem; on violation punished under Prevention of Insults to National Honor Act, 1971. The provision in Article 51A (i) talks about the protection of the public property is the duty of every citizen of India and on the violation, prosecuted under many laws. In the case of M.C. Mehta v. Union of India, it was held that under Article 51A (g) it remains under the duty of the Central Government for providing compulsory education on improvement and protection of the natural environment in all educational institutions of India.

Provisions as to fundamental duties cannot be enforced by writs. They can be promoted by constitutional methods. Even after all provisions, the fundamental duties are not given much importance as compared to fundamental rights, when it comes to its implementation. The reason can be the procedure established for the implementation of the fundamental rights, not the same as the procedure for the enforcement of fundamental duties. One needs to understand the importance of fundamental duties, as without duties there can be no rights, and so-called, there cannot be any fundamental right. Rights are all about duties; it should be like, one who performs their fundamental duties or the one who doesn’t violate their fundamental duties will be only eligible to take the benefit of the fundamental rights. After the implementation of this, the scope of the human rights i.e. fundamental rights will largely be enlarged and even will be followed strictly. It is as simple as that, why to give someone rights when they are not performing their duties. As if it continues, after a while, the people will only ask for their rights and won’t perform their respective duties. It should be made clear that the idea of rights itself has emerged from the duties itself, otherwise, why will people want to do their duties.

Talking it about our current topic i.e. labor rights, the person who is labor violates or doesn’t perform his/her fundamental duties, should not be provided with any of the rights as well. As stated above, duties emerge from rights. So, at this point change is needed to be brought. The major part of the country’s population constitutes labor working somewhere or the other for earning their livelihood. So, if they start respecting their fundamental duties, at the same time their rights will automatically be provided as they can bring an argument before the court also. As like, after performing all his fundamental duties and not violating any laws as well, if their right is infringed, what’s the need to follow up those rights, if even their interest can’t be talked and think about.