Payment of Bonus (Amendment) Bill introduced in Rajya Sabha

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New Delhi, Dec 3 (UNI) Members of different political hues today welcomed a Bill, seeking to enhance the eligibility limit for payment of bonus from Rs 3,500 to Rs 10,000 and the calculation ceiling from Rs 2,500 to Rs 3,500, but demanded that the entire spectrum of unorganised labour be brought under its ambit.

The Bill is to replace the Payment of Bonus (Amendment) Ordinance, promulgated by the President on October 27 this year, and also brings construction workers under the ambit of the Bonus Act.

Initaiting the discussion on the Bill, which has already been passed by the Lok Sabha, BJP member Ajay Maroo said the provisions of the Bill were welcome, but criticised the government for resorting to introducing such an important legislation through an ordinance.

He said the Bill could have been introduced in the previous session of Parliament itself.

Mr Maroo said a major lacuna of the Bill was its total silence on the plight of contract and migrant labourers, especially in the mining sector and the tea plantation industry.

Mr G Sanjeeva Reddy (Cong) said bonus was not a charity from the government but a matter of right for the workers.

Pointing out that the Supreme Court had described bonus as 'fallback wage', he said the ceiling of Rs 10,000 would be unscientific and irrelevant, especially in the context of the profit-making industries.

Mr Reddy said the Government should do away with the ceiling of Rs 10,000 to determine bonus on the basis of fallback wage or performance. Such a ceiling should be applicable only to the loss-making units, he suggested.

His another suggestion was to provide bonus to contract workers on a weekly basis along with their wages.

Mr Chandran Pillai (CPM) said it was unfortunate that the successive governments had been treating bonus as a charity and not as a deferred wage, and questioned the rationale for fixing the bonus ceiling at Rs 20,000.

At a time when the economy had become globalised and corporate companies were making super profits, such a ceiling would be extremely irrelevant, he said.

Mr Pillai said the cap of 20 per cent, which would also be applicable to those units giving productivity-linked bonuses, would act as a disincentive for them.

He said unorganised workers contributed 65 per cent of the GDP but they had been left out of the ambit of the Bill.

Mr Veer Pal Singh Yadav (SP) and Mr S Anbalagan (AIADMK) also demanded that the Bill be suitably amended to include unorganised workers under its purview.

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