Labour is the very backbone of a progressive state. In Haryana, the requirement for skilled, semi-skilled, and unskilled labour is very high. In industries, agriculture, and in household industries, labourers are a might to be reconciled with. Their wages, living conditions, and respect, however, are not at par with their importance in society.
Labour laws and reality
According to the state administration, Haryana has among the highest minimum wages slabs for industrial workers in the country. This, however, is far from reality. The officially determined minimum wage of unskilled workers is INR 2,359.5 per month and INR 90.7 per day. These wages are hardly enough to keep the labourers and their families away from chronic poverty, let alone taking care of their educational and healthcare expenses. Shelter is another major concern with most labourers resorting to stay in temporary shanties and slums to avoid paying rents.
Labour conditions of living
A healthy labour environment will only become possible when the employer-employee relationship remains healthy. With labour unions becoming increasingly politicised and incapable of looking into the real issues faced by the workers of the state, this has become a far cry. Employers are also often found to be violating labour laws and exploiting the uneducated, poor labourers. This is essentially due to weak enforcement of labour laws in the state. According to statistics, Haryana had the highest "overall average number of man days lost due to non-fatal injuries, frequency rate and severity rate of non-fatal injuries", pegged at 21.53. Most of these labourers remain uncompensated.
Awareness and education
Lack of education and awareness is a major cause for exploitation of labourers in the state. For example, the workers of the state must necessarily be provided coverage under the Employees Provident Fund Scheme. Their health care should be provided by the ESI-run healthcare clinics and hospitals. In reality, however, a large part of the labourers in the state do not have access to any healthcare facilities and employers regularly ignore provident fund and even minimum wage mandates. Workmen's compensation rules are routinely ignored in cases of hazardous employment.
According to 2001 statistics, about 2,53,491 children were employed as labourers in the state of Haryana. Recent estimates predict that child labour has emerged as one of the prime concerns in terms of labour and employment in the state. Children's rights are not protected and their wages are slotted well below acceptable ranges. Deprived of education, healthcare, and a carefree childhood, most of these labourers are employed in dhabas and eateries, cotton farms, and as domestic helpers. Apart from difficult living and working conditions, the lack of opportunities to study ensure perpetual poverty and labour.
What Naya Haryana needs
For a progressive and prosperous Naya Haryana, labourers must be accorded their requisite dignity and opportunities to develop their work and achieve overall happiness. Labour laws in the state need a complete overhaul a revaluation of the gap between the objectives and achievements of these laws will give us a targeted action plan. The access to labour courts in the state is very restricted. In case of an irreconcilable dispute, every labourer must have recourse to the judicial system. This facilitation is essentially the responsibility of the state administration.