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This article is written by Anushka Sharma, BA LLB 6TH Sem, student of Kalinga University during her internship with LeDroit India.

The Plantations Labor Act of 1951 was passed in October 1951 and took effect on April 1, 1954. The Plantation Labor Act, 1951, and the rules published thereunder by the competent government govern the circumstances of plantation labor. The Plantation Labor Act is unique in that it provides medical care, housing, sickness benefits, maternity benefits, and other forms of social security to plantation employees. The act also calls for the establishment of canteens, crèches, recreational facilities, proper housing, and educational facilities in and surrounding plantation estates for the benefit of plantation employees and their families. The act assures that plantation workers have access to safe drinking water and sanitation.

Every employer is required to comply with Section 10 of the Plantation Labor Act. Every employer is required by Section 10 of the Plantation Labor Act to provide medical facilities for workers and their families. Employers are required by the Plantations Labor Act to offer and maintain such free and easily accessible medical facilities for workers and their families as the State Government may regulate. Workers, too, are entitled to sick pay if a trained medical practitioner certifies their illness.

The main issue for female workers is seeking medical advice from male doctors in the dispensary. Women employees, who are largely illiterate, are hesitant to contact male doctors, particularly when it comes to gynecological issues. Given the significant number of female plantation workers, a formal framework for the appointment of lady doctors appears to be necessary. Prenatal and postnatal treatment facilities are also lacking and need to be upgraded. Plantation workers’ health, in general, and women workers’ health in particular, benefit greatly from frequent and regular medical check-ups.

Employers are required under the Plantations Labor Act of 1951 to establish primary schools on plantations where the number of children between the ages of 6 and 12 exceeds 25. However, if a school run by the state government or a municipal authority already exists and provides free education to a sufficient number of students, an employer may be excluded from this responsibility.

Because of the estates’ distant location, good schooling facilities for workers’ children are a must. Only 19 units, or nearly 40%, of the 47 Tea plantation units visited during the field study provide education to the children. In the states of Assam and West Bengal, 50% of the units provide educational services. In the 19 units, a total of 3,618 children use this service.

When all of the plantations are combined, it is discovered that the employer directly employs 100% of the people in the tea, coffee, rubber, and cardamom plantations. No contract workers are found to be employed, i.e., no contractors are hired. Workers are usually paid either on a piece rate or on a time rate basis. It is commonly assumed that where product quality is most important, a time-based style of payment is preferable, and when quantity is more important, a piece-based mode of payment is favored.

 Out of the total 18,664 manual employees working in the sampled tea estates, 68% are men and 80% are females, with the remaining 32% male and 20% females being time rated. These laborer’s are frequently underpaid.

The majority of workers employed in the plantation business are untrained, and many of them are unaware of the terms of the Minimum Wage Act, 1948, Equal Remuneration Act, 1976, and other labor laws designed for their benefit. Because of their high percentage of illiteracy and lack of awareness, they are more exposed to employer exploitation.

 The plantation labor act was enacted to improve the plantation employees’ living and socioeconomic situations. Many plantation employees, however, are still exploited and unaware of their rights. Many surveys and case studies conducted on plantation employees demonstrate the working circumstances of plantation workers and how only a small percentage of them are supplied with the services required by this act. Due to a lack of awareness, many people continue to suffer. There is a need to raise awareness among plantation employees and owners about the rights of plantation workers and their families.

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