The Plantation Labour Act 1951 – The Act is administered by the Ministry of Labour and Employment. The Plantation labour Act 1951, to provide for the welfare of labour, and to regulate the conditions of work, in plantations.
Registration of Plantations
Section 3-B of the PLA, 1951 makes it compulsory for every employer of a plantation to register it within sixty days of its coming into existence.
Inspecting staff – Under Section’4, the state government has the power to appoint for the state a duly qualified person to be -the chief inspector of plantations and other persons to, be inspectors subordinate to the chief inspector.
Power and functions of Inspectors
- to examine and make inquiries to ascertain whether the provisions of this Act are being observed in any plantation.
- can enter, inspect and examine with assistants any part of plantation at any reasonable time and take statements on any person, provided that no person shall be compelled to answer any question or make any statement tending to incriminate himself.
Plantation Measures are Provided to the Plantation Workers
- A canteen wherever 150 or more workers are employed (Sec. 11)
- A creche, if employing 50 or more women workers (Sec. 12)
- Recreational facilities for the workers and their children (Sec. 13)
- Educational arrangements in the estate if there are 25 children of workers between the age of 6 and 12 (Sec. 14)
- Housing facility for every worker and his family residing in the plantation. (Sec. 15 & 16)
- The state government may make rules requiring every plantation employer to provide the workers with such number and type of umbrellas, blankets, raincoats or other like amenities for the protection of workers from rain or cold as may be prescribed (Sec. 17)
- Appointment of welfare offices in plantation employing 300 or more workers (Sec. 18)
Penalties and Procedure
Under the Plantation Labour Act, the penalty imposed for violation of the provisions is a fine of Rs.500 and/or 3 months imprisonment. Subsequent / Continued violation of PLA is punishable by a Fine of Rs. 1000P and/or imprisonment of Six months.
Neither the worker nor the Union has a right to file a complain and launch legal proceedings against the Plantation owners. This right is given to the Chief Inspector only on whose complaint the Magistrate of the second class shall try the offence punishable under this Act. Amendments demanded by HMS in the Plantations Labour Act –
- To provide for appointment of duly qualified person to supervise the use, handling, storage and transportation of insecticides, chemicals, etc.
- Total prohibition of Child labour employment in the Plantations for which the existing plantation Labour Act heeds to be amended as it presently allows the employment of children and adolescents.
- To provide for the right of prosecution of the employers by the trade unions directly in the Magistrates’ Court in case ‘ of violation of the provisions of Plantation Labour Act. At present this can be done only by the Chief Inspector of the Plantations.
- Raising the wage ceiling for definition of the worker from Rs.7501to Rs. 160W p.m. as under the Industrial Disputes Act.
- Setting up of Joint or combined Hospitals for specialised treatment and appointment of qualified personnel in the Garden Hospitals and Dispensaries. [nearly 50% of the garden dispensaries in N. E. region are without qualified Doctors and life saving drugs]
- Prohibition on use of Banned Pesticides.
- The penalties for violation of the provisions of Plantation. Labour Act should be raised substantially and this should include minimum of one years’ imprisonment besides a fine that may extend up to Rs. 100000/-..