Issues Last Warning to all Principal Employers to Pay Cess. This is not an option: Jitendra Narayan

Port Blair, April 25: Under the guidance of Chief Secretary, A&N Administration, Shri Jitendra Narain, for the safety and security of the Islands, the Labour Department has started registering all the Migrant Workers arriving in the Islands. A Help Desk by the Department in this context has been set up at Veer Savarkar International Airport and Harbours in order to verify the workers arriving in the Islands. With the commencement of the process, more than 150 workers have been verified and registered in three days’ time.    The entire process is being carried out by the Labour Department in collaboration with the DC Office and Police Department.

The A&N Islands are witnessing huge developmental projects and sufficient local labour force is not available in the Islands. Under such situation, the labour force has to come from rest of India for taking up the developmental works. With an aim to secure the Islands while getting labourers, it is important to register & verify each workers and tenants. The Islanders are requested to be cautious while engaging any unverified tenant or workers in their Residences or Establishment. This is very important for the future of the Islands, which is going to be the centre of growth in South East Asia.

In this regard, the first exercise of verification and registration has been started on April 23, 2022. The Chief Secretary, A&N Administration noted that the Village Register System of 1999 has fallen into complete disuse. The aim is not to restrict outsider, but the aim is to regulate, reorganise, re-orient them and at the same time labourers shall be getting various benefits under Labour Acts. Benefits of Registration & Skill Development will be honed through continuous training and will be extended welfare schemes of the Department. A lot of effort in this regard has been done by Shri Hari Kallikkat, Secretary (Labour) and Shri R.L. Rishi, Labour Commissioner with the help of Police Personnel and the Airport Authority of India. The ITF Ground will be presently used for this purpose until a new building has been set up for this purpose. On an average 50-100 migrant Labourers are arriving in the Islands every day.

The Principal Employers/Contractors whether in civil or defence must act responsibly and shall keep a vigil on every workers. It is seen that since 2004, people before elections come through contractors and post completion of work, these workers are dumped and the workers stay back in the lookout for other jobs. These workers have Aadhaar and other ID proofs from various parts of Bengal and this being a serious issue, all Islanders shall co-operate, co-ordinate in verifying every workers and every tenant which is compulsory and not a choice.

Meanwhile, a meeting has been convened by the Labour Department with all Principal Employers/Construction agencies wherein it was directed that all Principal Employers including those in Central Sphere as well as Defence Establishments must remit Cess deducted on time to Labour Department, A&N Administration, failing which, Penalty Provision as laid down under Section 12 of Building & Other Construction Workers Welfare Cess Act, 1996 shall be invoked which provides for imprisonment which may extend upto 06 months or fine of Rs. 1000/- or with both.

The Principal Employer is also responsible for obtaining necessary Registration and Licenses under Inter State Migrant Workers Act, 1979 wherever applicable.  The Section 6 of Inter State Migrant Workers Act, 1979 stipulates that “No Principal employer of establishment to which this Act applies shall employ Inter-State Migrant Workmen in the establishment unless a certificate of registration in respect of such establishment issued under this Act is in force”.

In case of non-compliance, the penalty provision under Sec-25 of Inter State Migrant Workers Act, 1979 which provides for imprisonment of 01 (one) year or fine of Rs. 1000/- or with both shall be invoked against Principal Employer.

It was directed that all Principal Employers/Contractors should obtain necessary registration and licenses under respective labour laws in order to ensure welfare and safety of migrant worker and also register their workers with Labour Deptt., A&N Administration.  All Principal Employers have been asked to submit details of all ongoing works including details of workers engaged for the purpose before the Labour Commissioner, A&N Islands.