New Delhi, Sept 29 : Union Minister of Labour and Employment Oscar Fernandes has reiterated that the Central Government is aware of the plight of workers in the tea plantations and have been making all out efforts for their welfare.
Addressing the Parliamentary Consultative Committee Meeting for Labour and Employment Ministry here today, Fernandes said the Ministry is in the process of carrying out suitable amendments to the Plantation Labour Act, 1951. The proposed amendments mainly include amplification of definition of 'employer', 'worker', 'family' etc. to make them more broad-based.
"A rehabilitation package for closed tea gardens has also been announced to facilitate their economic resurrection," he added.
He said that the tea industry in India has been going through a crisis mainly due to stiff competition in the world market, decline in productivity and quality of tea produced and also due to depressed market," he added.
"The Government is fully aware of the gaps between the provisions of the Plantations Labour Act and the extent to which these welfare measures are received by the workers," he added.
He said the State governments have been requested to extend the benefits of Centrally Sponsored Employment Generation and Welfare Schemes to the Plantation workers by converging the benefits of these schemes with the various developmental schemes of the State Government concerned.
"The States have also been asked to extend the health services being provided by the primary health centers to the workers and their families in the closed and the sick tea gardens. All these are meant to be treated as supplementary measures on the part of the Government till the financial health of the tea gardens improves," he added.
Fernandes said that the Ministery of Commerce and Industry which is the nodal Central Ministry for plantations including tea plantation is making efforts to improve the productivity and quality of the gardens.
"The proposal also prohibits child labour in the plantations and provides safeguard for safety, health and simplify the provisions for providing medical facilities to the workers in the plantations," he added.