Reports indicate that:
Not all social rights are covered by the relevant legislation and enforced in India. In particular legislation and/or enforcement is lacking regarding the protection of freedom of association, the right to organize and collective bargaining and the prevention of child labour.
• Rights like freedom of association and collective bargaining are not upheld
• There is evidence confirming compulsory and/or forced labour
• There is evidence confirming discrimination in respect of employment and/or occupation, and/or gender, in particular among Dalits and Adivasis.
• There is evidence confirming child labour.
• The country is not signatory to ILO Convention nr. 87 Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, (1948), nr. 98 Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention (1949), nr. 138 Minimum Age Convention, (1973) and nr. 182 Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999).
• There is evidence that any groups (including women, Dalits and Adivasi) do not feel adequately protected related to the rights mentioned above
• Violations of labour rights are not limited to specific sectors.
There’s a potential risk of non-implementation of the Indian Plantation Labour Act provisions. The large-scale forest areas in India are owned and managed by the Government Forest Department. Due to the land ceiling rules, private plantations are not of industrial scale in India. There Indian government rarely reports any instances of Government departments violating labour laws in India. In case of forest management operations in farmers’ fields, such activities are outside the purview of the Plantation Labour Act and not monitored by any external agency.
There’s a potential risks of non-payment of minimum wages, involvement of child labour in forest management activities, and incidences of bonded labour. The labour involved in forest management activities is specialized and justifies payment greater than the mandated minimum wage. However, despite efforts by the Government and non-government agencies, there is widespread prevalence of child labour and bonded labour in India; and the presence of such in the case of forest management activities in private plantation areas cannot be ruled out.
The most important risks identified in relation to OSH include high levels of dust and difficulty breathing, especially where wood is cut into pieces. High temperatures (with records up to 50°C and higher during summer) leading to risks of fainting. Lack of hygiene in toilets. Unsafe construction of the building in smaller industries (no safety lines on the floor, equipment directly inserted into power sockets without using plugs, dark, delayed repairs). Malfunctioning or unsafe machinery, including a risk of removal of safety protection parts. In general, it was observed that machinery seems old and not regularly serviced. A general lack of PPEs for workers is observed, except for masks during Covid-times. This is related to keeping costs low (no provision of PPEs), the quality or effectiveness of the PPES (unable to breath properly with a mask for example) and also to high temperatures (which makes it hard to wear PPEs). Lack of fire safety in general for small industries and for big industries related to training.
Additional information that is reported:
• The Labour Law requires to document accidents (fatal and non-fatal) for workers compensation mechanisms.
• Workers take water in a 15 or 20L bottle, sometimes contractors provide drinking water via bottled water or via a water tank. The cleanliness of the water tank and the origin of the water used for drinking is unsure. Corruption is a problem, as you cannot be sure if government officials will actually perform their duties to provide all necessary checks to ensure good water quality. Also a water station is not available in all factories visited.
• A general comment was made that in the smaller industries less is done to guarantee workers’ safety and health.