THIS COMPOSITION HAS BEEN WRITTEN BY RAJSHREE SONI , A 1st YEAR BA LLB STUDENT FROM MANIPAL UNIVERSITY JAIPUR.
In The Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966 is an act passed by the Indian Parliament to provide for the regulation of the conditions of work and welfare of workers employed in the beedi and cigar industry in India. The act is aimed at protecting the rights of workers and ensuring their safety, health, and welfare.
Due to the lack of formal education and skills, these workers are often vulnerable to exploitation by their employers. They are paid low wages and are subjected to harsh working conditions, which include long working hours and exposure to hazardous chemicals. In order to address these issues, the Indian government introduced the Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act in 1966.
Beedi and cigar industry is one of the oldest industries in India, employing a large number of workers in the country. The industry is mostly concentrated in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, and West Bengal. The industry is labour-intensive and employs a significant number of women and children. The working conditions in the industry have been a matter of concern for a long time, with reports of exploitation and abuse of workers.
The Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966 was enacted to address these concerns and to regulate the working conditions of workers in the industry.
OBJECTIVES OF THE ACT
The main objective of the Act is to regulate the working conditions of beedi and cigar workers in the country. The Act sets out the minimum wages, working hours, and other conditions of employment that must be provided to workers in the industry. The Act also establishes a Beedi and Cigar Workers Welfare Fund, which is used to provide benefits and facilities to workers in the industry.
WORKING CONDITION OF BEEDI AND CIGAR WORKERS
Beedi and cigar workers are primarily employed in the unorganized sector and work in small factories or home-based units. According to the Ministry of Labour and Employment, there are over 3.5 million beedi workers in India, of which 70% are women. Beedi workers are concentrated in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu. Cigar workers, on the other hand, are predominantly men and work in the states of West Bengal, Kerala, and Karnataka.
The working conditions of beedi and cigar workers are poor, and they are subjected to long working hours, low wages, and poor working conditions. Beedi workers work for up to 16 hours a day, and their wages are as low as Rs. 150 per day. They work in small and cramped spaces, which are often poorly ventilated, leading to respiratory diseases. Cigar workers are also subjected to long working hours, and their wages are slightly higher than beedi workers.
PROVISION OF THE ACT
The Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966 provides for the regulation of the conditions of work and welfare of workers employed in the beedi and cigar industry. The act covers all workers employed in the industry, including women and children.
The Act applies to all beedi and cigar establishments that employ 20 or more workers. The main objective of the Act is to ensure that the workers are provided with certain minimum facilities and welfare measures to improve their working conditions. The Act covers various aspects of employment, such as health and safety, working hours, wages, leave, and other benefits.
One of the significant provisions of the Act is the provision for a workday of not more than 9 hours, and a workweek of not more than 48 hours. This provision ensures that the workers are not overworked and have sufficient time for rest and leisure. The Act also provides for the payment of overtime wages for work done beyond the normal working hours.
Another critical provision of the Act is the provision for minimum wages. The Act mandates that every employer shall pay every worker employed in the establishment wages not less than the minimum wage fixed by the government. The minimum wage is fixed based on the location, type of work, and skill required for the job. The Act also provides for the payment of bonus to workers, which is calculated as a percentage of their wages.
The Act also provides for various welfare measures for the workers. The Act mandates that every employer shall provide certain facilities such as drinking water, latrines, and washing facilities to the workers. The Act also provides for the provision of first aid and medical facilities at the workplace. The Act also mandates that every employer shall provide leave with wages to workers, such as annual leave, sick leave, and maternity leave.
EFFECTIVENESS OF THE ACT
Despite the provisions of the act, the working conditions of workers in the beedi and cigar industry continue to be a matter of concern. The industry remains largely unregulated, with many establishments operating without registration. The working conditions in the industry are poor, with long working hours, low wages, and poor health and safety conditions.
The act has not been effectively implemented, with many establishments violating its provisions. The penalties for violation of the act are not severe enough to deter violators, and there is a lack of effective enforcement of the act.
IMPACT OF THE ACT
The Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966 has had a significant impact on the working conditions of beedi and cigar workers in India. The Act has helped to regulate the industry and provide a framework for the protection of workers’ rights. Some of the key impacts of the Act are:
Improved working conditions: The Act has led to improved working conditions for beedi and cigar workers in India. Employers are now required to provide adequate health and safety measures, which has reduced the risk of accidents and health problems among workers.
Higher wages: The Act has led to an increase in wages for beedi and cigar workers. The minimum wages set out in the Act are revised periodically to account for inflation and other factors, which has helped to ensure that workers are paid a fair wage for their work.
Welfare benefits: The Beedi and Cigar Workers Welfare Fund has provided workers in the industry with access to a range of welfare benefits and facilities. This includes medical facilities, education and training programs, and housing facilities.
Reduction in exploitation: The Act has helped to reduce the exploitation of beedi and cigar workers in India. Employers are now required to comply with the provisions of the Act, which has helped to ensure that workers are not exploited or mistreated
The Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966 is an important piece of legislation aimed at protecting the rights of workers in the beedi and cigar industry. However, the act has not been effectively implemented, and the working conditions in the industry continue to be a matter of concern.
The Beedi and Cigar Workers [Condition of Employment] Act, 1966, was enacted to provide for certain conditions of employment of beedi and cigar workers and to regulate their working hours, safety and health. However, the Act has had a limited impact on the lives of beedi and cigar workers, who continue to be exploited by employers. The government needs to take strong measures to enforce the provisions of the Act and ensure that beedi and cigar workers are provided with decent working conditions and wages.
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