ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Contracting Insecurity

Contract labour in permanent jobs is an increasing trend with "the model employer" the biggest culprit.

Contract labour in India has been a matter of contention and differing perspectives from as far back as 1860 when the Whitley Commission tried to grapple with the phenomenon and recommended, by implication, that it be abolished. In post-independence India, a number of committees and commissions prepared reports leading up to and beyond the enactment of the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970. Today, contract labour is being used in almost every industry and service in India. Ironically enough, the government itself—union, states and the public sector units (PSUs)—which is supposed to be “a model employer” is the biggest employer of such labour, which works with job uncertainty and without social security of any kind. The Seventh Pay Commission has pointed out that the central government alone spends Rs 300 crore annually on its temporary and contractual staff.

A number of reliable estimates place the current employment of contract labour at between 25% and 30% of total employment in the organised private sector, with the share having grown by almost 70% over the past two decades. According to a study by the V V Giri National Labour Institute, the average daily wages of contract workers in the private sector are Rs 143.5 and that of permanent workers Rs 212.

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