1. Choose any occupation you see around you – and describe it along the following lines (a) social composition of the workforce – caste, gender, age, region (b) labour process – how the work takes place, (c) wages and other benefits, (d) working conditions – safety, rest times, working hours, etc.
- Since 1990’s, the government has followed policy of liberalization. Private companies, especially foreign firms encouraged investment in sector which was earlier reserved for the government.
- Generally people get jobs through advertisement or through employment exchange in the industrial sector. Men and women both work in industrial sector. The persons engaged in industry get salary or wages along with certain benefits like HRA (House Rent Allowance) and Medical facilities.
- Job recruitment as a factory worker takes a different pattern. In the past, many workers got their jobs through contractors or jobbers. In the Kanpur textile mills, these jobbers were known as ministries and were themselves workers. They came from the same regions and communities as the workers, but because they had the owner’s backing they bossed over the workers.
- The mistri also put community related pressures on the workers. Nowadays, the importance of the jobber has come down, and both management and unions play a role in recruiting their own people.
- Workers also expect that they can pass on their jobs to their children. Many factories employ badli workers who substitute for regular permanent workers who are on leave. Many of these badli workers have actually worked for many years for the same company but are not given the same status and security. This is what is called contract work in the organized sector.
- The contractor system is most visible in the hiring of casual labour for work on construction sites, brickyards and so on. The contractor goes to villages and asks if people want work. He will loan them some money. This loan includes the cost of transport of the work side.
- The loaned money is treated as an advance wages and the worker works without wages until the loan is repaid. In the past, agricultural labourers were tied to their landlord by debt. Now, however, by moving to casual industrial work, while they are still in debt, they are not bound by other social obligations to the contractor. In that sense, they are more free in an industrial society. They can break the contract and find another employer. Sometimes, whole families migrate and the children help their parents.
- Presently social composition of the work force in industry is concerned, people from all castes and both genders from the age group of fifteen to sixty work. Some regions of the country are having more industry than the other.
- Different workers have different working period in different industries according to their qualification, experience, age and risk of the job. The contract labourers get fixed amount as per the terms and conditions of contract. In organized sector, pay and allowances are better than the unorganized sector.
- The government has passed a number of rules to regulate working conditions. The Mines Act 1952 specifies the maximum number of hours a person can be made to work in a week, they need to pay overtime for any extra hours worked and safety rules. These rules may be followed in the big companies, but not in smaller mines ‘ and quarries. Moreover, sub-contracting is widespread.
- Workers in underground mines face very dangerous conditions, due to flooding, fire, the collapse of roofs and sides, the emission of gases and ventilation failures. Many workers develop breathing problems and diseases like tuberculosis and silicosis.
2. In the account of brick making, bidi rolling, software engineers or mines that are described in the boxes, describe the social composition of the workers. What are the working conditions and facilities available? How do girls like Madhu feel about their work?
- Social institutions like caste, kinship, networks, gender and regions also influence the way the work is organized or the way in which products are marketed.
- In certain jobs and departments we find more women working than the men. For example, they are working more in numbers in nursing or teaching jobs than in other sectors like engineering.
- In India, over 90% of the work, whether it is in agriculture, industry or services is in the unorganized or informal sector.
- Very few people have the experience of employment in large firms where they get to meet people from other regions and backgrounds.
- Urban settings do provide some corrective to this your neighbours in a city may be from a different place – by and large, work for most Indians is still in small-scale workplaces.
- Nearly 60% were employed in the primary sector (agriculture and mining), 17% in the secondary sector (manufacturing, construction and utilities), and 23% in the tertiary sector (trade, transport, financial services, etc.).
- The share of agriculture has declined sharply, and services contribute approximately half. This is a very serious situation because it means that the sector where the maximum people are employed is not able to generate much income for them.
- India is still largely an agricultural country. The service sector – shops, banks, the IT industry, hotels and other services are employing more people and the urban middle class is growing, along with urban middle class values like those we see in television serials and films.
- But we also see that very few people in India have access to secure jobs, with even the small number in regular salaried employment becoming more insecure due to the rise in contract labour.
- Employment by the government was a major avenue for increasing the well-being of the population, but now even that is coming down.
- Girls like Madhu enjoy their work of rolling of bidis and filling of tobacco rolled tendu leaves.
- They get opportunity to sit close to their family members and other women and listen to their chat. They spend most of their time working in factory of bidis.
- Due to long hours of sitting in the same posture daily, they suffer from backache. Madhu wants to restart her schooling.
3. How has liberalisation attacked employment patterns in India?
- Due to liberalization foreign products are now easily available in Indian markets and shops. Due to this some of the labour have to lose their employment and jobs.
- Many Indian companies have been taken over by multinationals. At the same time some Indian companies are becoming multinational companies. An instance of the first is when, Parle drinks was bought by Coca Cola. ‘
- The next major area of liberalization may be in retail. Due to coming of foreign companies and big business. Indian houses very small traders, shopkeepers, handicraft sellers. And hawkers have lost their jobs of employment or their small business is adversely affected by big mall, showroom or Reliance, Subhiksha, etc.
- The world’s largest chains, including Wal-Mart Stores, Carrefour and TESCO, are seeking the best way to enter the country, despite a government ban on foreign direct investment in the market.
- Wal-Mart, Carrefour and TESCO to set up a retailing joint venture …India’s retail sector is attractive not only because of its fast growth, but because family-run street comer stores have 97% of the nation’s business. But this industry trait is precisely why the government makes it hard for foreigners to enter the market.
- The government is trying to sell its share in several public sector companies, a process which is known as disinvestment. Many government workers are scared that after disinvestment, they will lose their jobs.
- Companies are reducing the number of permanent employees and outsourcing their work to smaller companies or even to homes. For multinational companies, this outsourcing is done across the globe, with developing countries like India providing cheap labour. It is more difficult for trade unions to organize in smaller firms.