Labour welfare work is generally undertaken by four main agencies viz., (a) The employers (b) The workers’ organisation (c) the Central Government (d) the State Government.
Employer is in direct contact with the employees. His role is pivotal in providing welfare facilities to the employees over and above what is laid down by law. There is no denying the fact that some of the leading industrialists in India are pioneers in providing welfare amenities to their employees. Some of these employers in this regard are the Mafatlals, J.K. Group.. Godrej, Larsen and Turbo, Pfizzer, Voltas, Philips, Bajaj, Tisco & Telco etc. They have felt the necessity of welfare work and its importance in the interest of the industry and the workers. Various welfare amenities provided by the employers to the employees include educational facilities, medical facilities, creches, transport facilities, recreational facilities, gift on the marriage of children, housing facilities and consumer co-operative societies etc.
The dimensions of welfare work undertaken by the employers are diverse in nature on account of different conditions from industry to industry and from unit to unit in the same industry.
This includes the welfare activities provided by the unions for the benefit of their members out of their own funds. Various trade unions have done commendable work in the field of labour welfare. The welfare activities undertaken by the Ahmedabad Textile Labour Association are worth mentioning.
The association has to its credit 25 cultural and social centres spread over the labour intensive areas of the city of Ahmedabad. It provides welfare facilities for the workers in respect of schools, libraries, dispensaries and maternity homes, co-operative societies, training in the trade union principles, and free-legal aid etc.
The Mill Majdoor Union, Indore has set up various labour welfare centres to provide recreational and other amenities to its members. It also provides educational facilities and games to the children of the employees.
Night classes, reading rooms, facilities of indoor and outdoor games are also provided to the employees. For the welfare of women employees, educational facilities and crafts, stitching etc., are also provided.
Similar other associations like, The Majdoor Sabha, Kanpur, the Rastriya Mill Majdoor Sangh, Bombay and the Textile Labour Association etc, are also offering many facilities for considerable improvements in the well being of the workers and their families.
Not much contribution could be made by the Central Government in the field of labour welfare prior to the Second World War. The Government started taking interest in the field of labour welfare during the Second World War. It extended the schemes of labour welfare in ordinance and ammunition factories.
A labour welfare advisor was appointed in 1942 for promoting the labour welfare work. A labour welfare fund was constituted in the year 1946 for financing the labour welfare measures outside the purview of statutory provisions in public sector undertakings.
The Government of India favoured the idea of ‘welfare state’. The government passed certain Acts, viz. Factories Act, 1948, the Coal Mines Labour Welfare Fund Act, 1947, the Iron Ore Mines Welfare Cess Act, 1961 and the Limestone and Dolomite Mines Labour Welfare Act, 1972, etc., are important Acts, covering the welfare of the workers.
Welfare funds have been created for the workers engaged in coal, iron, orelime stone and delomit mines. These funds are created by (a) the levy of cess in the coke and coal despatches from the colleries (b) an ad velorem cess on the export of mica, (c) a cess is levied on the production in iron-ore mining industries (d) a cess is levied on lime stone and delomit consumed by iron and Steel Mills, Cement and other factories.
Various State Governments and Union Territories have established different welfare centres which are providing educational, health, recreational and other facilities to the workers. Different cultural activities, games, sports, training in handicrafts, library, gymnasium and tailoring classes for women workers are being provided by different State Governments.
The State Governments have passed Labour Welfare Funds Acts from time to time to safeguard the interests of the workers and their families. Some of the important Acts passed by the State Governments are the Bombay Labour Welfare Fund Act (1953); the Mysore Labour Welfare Fund Act (1965) etc. The main sources of finances for these funds are (i) fines realised from the employees, (ii) unpaid wages, bonus, gratuity and all unpaid arrears, (iii) fines imposed on the employers by courts for defaults; (iv) Voluntary donations, (v) any fund transferred from any other labour welfare fund; (vi) all grants from the Central/State Governments; (vii) unclaimed and forfeited sums in Provident Fund Accounts and (viii) Any sum borrowed, etc. In addition to what has been explained above in respect of labour in India, a large number of voluntary social organisations have taken welfare activities in respect of night-schools, libraries, recreation health etc.