The draft labour policy, released by Labour Minister Shibu Baby John in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday, proposes measures to ensure minimum wages to workers in the unorganised sector and check unhealthy tendencies such as ‘nookukooli’ in the loading and unloading sector.

Releasing the policy, the Minister said that no time frame had been fixed for achieving these objectives because attitudes needed to be changed. All trade unions had agreed to the elimination of ‘nookukooli' and excessive collection of charges by headload workers. Where welfare fund scheme was available for headload workers, provision would be made for online payment of charges and gradual unification of rates across the State.

Disciplinary action would be taken against workers collecting excess charges and those who threaten house owners regarding loading and unloading of house-hold goods. Renewal of worker’s registration with the welfare fund board would be made compulsory. Transfer of registration cards and use of substitutes would be ended.

The Minister said many workers in the unorganised sector were afraid of referring complaints about non-payment of minimum wages for fear of loss of jobs. Hence, it would be made mandatory for employers to pay wages through banks and the Labour Department would take action on the basis of bank statements if minimum wages were not paid.

Mr. John said that the employment and training wing of the department would lay stress on skill development in various new sectors. An institute would be set up for skill development for construction jobs on an international level. An institute of fashion technology would also be set up.

The draft would be open for discussions and comment for the one month after which the policy would be finalised.

The policy also envisages low-cost housing for workers and compulsory registration of migrant workers. Health insurance cover is proposed to be extended to all workers. Safety audit will be made compulsory for multi-storeyed buildings. Only registered workers will be allowed to work at building sites.

The Labour Department will be revamped with additional staff. E-governance will be introduced to make the working of the department transparent and to reduce the use of paper. A 24-hour helpline will be set up to address complaints and provide information.

IT industry will be allowed to introduce a self-regulatory system in tune with existing labour laws. Fair wages will be introduced in the sector. Minimum wages will be fixed for more sectors.

The policy also proposes steps to improve the living conditions of estate workers, elimination of child labour, and merger of welfare fund boards with common characteristics. Overseas Employment Promotion Consultants Limited will be turned into a major recruitment agency. It will also take up recruitments for jobs within the country.

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