The Reserve Bank of India appointed Task Force set up to work out a financial package for the diamond industry and diamond workers has recommended the involvement of the state Labour Department to identify the diamond workers.
The Task Force has said that the registered diamond units should be asked to submit details of the workers to the state Labour Department after which the department will issue them Identity Cards.
But there is little reason for the diamond workers in the unorganised units to celebrate. Getting under the protective umbrella of Labour laws will remain a mirage for them,though such coverage would have enabled them to avail benefits like ESIC and Provident Fund. It would have also averted cases of suicides by several jobless diamond workers,earlier.
It was expected that after being identified as diamond workers by the government,such statutory benefits would be made available to them,but now it seems otherwise.
At most,the unregistered units will come under the government scanner and may be made to get their workers registered. In the case of unregistered units,the employees may be asked to make an application for identification along with details of employment,unit and location among others,to the Labour Department,the Task Force report says.
It adds that once the application forms designed by the Labour Department are filled up,and the workers are identified,they will be issued Identification Cards,which can be produced by the workers whenever and wherever required.
But the whenever and wherever,it seems,will be applicable only at banks and sponsoring agencies like district industrial centres,whose willingness to help the workers is best left unsaid.
Assistant Labour Commissioner K O Shah said the move will not automatically bring such identified workers under the protective umbrella of various Labour laws.
As such,the plight of the diamond workers in the unorganised sector will continue. Shah said there was no provision in the law about the Labour Department issuing identity cards to diamond workers. The provision is there in the Factories Act,which gives legal protection to industrial workers,he added.
Meanwhile,Rakhial MLA Vallabhbhai Patel has said that legal protection could be extended to even those workers who are issued Identity Cards by the Labour Department even if they are issued for the limited purpose of availing financial assistance from banks under various schemes.
Patel said a special function will be held in the Bapunagar area on Monday afternoon where cheques will be handed out to over to 8,716 children of diamond workers at the hands of Swami Sachchidanandji.
Children from as many as 540 schools in the city will get Rs 70 lakh in assistance to meet their educational expenses. About Rs 1.75 crore will be distributed to the children of diamond workers across the state,he added.