Day 41 – Q 3. What are the legal and institutional remedies against the exploitation of factory workers and labourers? Are they adequate in addressing the myriad problems faced by the working class? Critically examine. 

  • IASbaba
  • July 27, 2020
  • 0
GS 2, Social Sector & Development, TLP-UPSC Mains Answer Writing
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3. What are the legal and institutional remedies against the exploitation of factory workers and labourers? Are they adequate in addressing the myriad problems faced by the working class? Critically examine. 

कारखाने के श्रमिकों और मजदूरों के शोषण के खिलाफ कानूनी और संस्थागत उपाय क्या हैं? क्या वे मज़दूर वर्ग के सामने मौजूद असंख्य समस्याओं को दूर करने के लिए पर्याप्त हैं? समालोचनात्मक जांच करें।

Demand of the question:

It expects students to observe and present the legal and institutional remedies against the exploitation of workers and labourers. It also expects to present their adequacy in addressing the myriad problems faced by working class.


Labour falls in the Concurrent list of the Indian constitution and there are many laws enacted by the Centre and the states. In India, around 40 million workers are employed in the formal as well as informal sectors of the economy.


According to International Labour Organisation, 40.3 million people are victims of modern slavery globally, while 29.4 million are affected by forced labour. In the 2016 Global Slavery Index, reported there were 18.3 million people in modern slavery in India.  Despite the availability of major labour laws to address the problems of exploitation of workers and labourers, many of the problems still persists. 

There are certain institutions and  four major central legislations, that address the issues of factory workers and labourers in India:

  • Factories Act, 1948: The main objectives of this act is to ensure safety measures on factory premises, and promote the health and welfare of workers.
  • The Shops and Commercial Establishments Act, 1961: It aims to regulate hours of work, payment, overtime, a weekly day off with pay, other holidays with pay, annual leave, employment of children and young persons, and employment of women.
  • The Minimum Wages Act, 1948: It sets the minimum wages that must be paid to skilled and unskilled labours.
  • Industrial Disputes Act. 1947: It relates to terms of service such as layoff, retrenchment, and closure of industrial enterprises and strikes and lockouts.
  • Ministry of Labour is there at Centre with 4 attached offices, 10 subordinate offices, 4 autonomous organizations and adjudication bodies and Arbitration body.
  • Employee State Insurance Corporation – Autonomous Statutory Organization – The organization administers various benefits under the ESI Act, for instance, sickness benefit, maternity benefit, dependents’ expenses, funeral benefit, which are cash benefit s, and medical benefit. The medical benefit has been made available to the family members of the insured employees.
  • Employee Provident Fund Organization – Autonomous Statutory Organization – Administers various schemes under Employees Provident Fund and Miscellaneous provisions Act. There are schemes like – Employee provident fund scheme, Employee Deposit linked Insurance Scheme, Pension scheme etc.
  • Board of Arbitration – is there to mediate between central government and its employees.
  • Our constitution has many articles directed toward their interests for eg. Article 23 forbids forced labour, 24 forbids child labour (in factories, mines and other hazardous occupations) .
  • Article 43A was inserted by 42nd amendment – directing state to take steps to ensure worker’s participation in management of industries.
  • Also, International Labour Organization: It is Founded in 1919 as result of Treaty of Versailles, it became first specialized agency under United Nations in 1945. Its vision is to secure humane working conditions for workers and to attain social justice for them universally. 

Labour protection legislation is one of the basic features of welfare state and aims at providing social justice. The main aim of such laws should be to create more, safer, and rewarding jobs for the labour. Despite this myriad problems are faced by the factory workers and labourers are as follows:

  • Complex Set of Laws: There are over 200 state laws and close to 50 central laws, and yet there is no set definition of “labour laws” in the country. The multiplicity and complexity of laws make compliance and enforcement difficult and lays the foundation for corruption, rent-seeking and exploitation of workers.
  • Inflexible Laws: For example, Indian labour laws are often characterised as “inflexible”. It has been argued that firms (those employing more than 100 workers) dither from hiring new workers because firing them requires government approvals.
  • Applicability of Labour Laws: A large number of workers that are engaged in the unorganized sector are not covered by labour regulations and social security. At present nearly 83% of India’s workers are part of the informal economy.

Thus, the current framework of labour laws and institutions falls short of securing the interest of all the labourers and workers. Hence, there arises the need for some steps to be taken to address the problem of exploitation of factory workers and labourers .

  • Government  partnering with the industry and allocate a percentage of the GDP towards sharing the wage burden and ensuring the health of the labourers.
  • Labour laws applicable to the formal sector should be modified to introduce an optimum combination of flexibility and security. 
  • Make the compliance of working conditions regulations more effective and transparent. • e.g. Skill development of youth would be created through initiative under ‘Shramev Jayate’.
  • Also Apprentice Protshan Yojana and the Effective Implementation of revamped Rashtriya Swasthaya Bima Yojana (RSBY) for labour in the unorganized sector also needs to be expanded  which will ensure safety and security to factory workers and labourers.


For sustainable industrial growth, there is a need for holistic labour laws and institutions reforms, which would enable firms to expand, while keeping the interest of labours intact, thereby resulting in the formalisation of the world economy.

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