People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
June 06, 2004
National Employment Service – A Hoax
International Labour Organisation (ILO), Delhi Office, convened a meeting of
central trade unions, employers’ organisations, ministry of labour officials
and research institutions to review the National Employment Service undertaken
by the government of India on May 11, 2004. The representatives of CITU, AITUC
and HMS who attended the meeting sharply criticised the functioning of the
scheme which miserably failed to provide any meaningful jobs for the working
Indian ministry of labour, the ILO Delhi Office and the ILO Employment Service
established on Indian Employment Promotion Programme in 2001 under NDA regime.
However, the programme could not make any meaningful contribution in generation
of jobs for the workers.
union ministry of labour is monitoring the working of 932 Employment Exchanges
all over the country. However, they collect data only for the organised sector
while the vast area of unorganised sector is out of the purview of these
exchanges. Moreover, these Employment Exchanges are only operating in the urban
areas and have no centres in the rural areas. Hence, the data available with
these centres do not reflect the real situation of unemployment in the country.
Even in the urban areas all workers do not register their names in these
Employment Exchanges since there is no guarantee that the workers would get a
job after registering their names. According to a study conducted by a research
scholar, not even 25 per cent of the workers in the urban areas register their
names. Therefore, the extent of unemployment is much more than what is stated in
the official data available with the Employment Exchanges.
to the live register of the Employment Exchanges by the end of 2001 the number
of job seekers stood at 4 crore and 20 lakh. The total number of job seekers in
1991 was at 3 crore 63 lakh. Due to non-availability of jobs the number of
workers registering their names in these exchanges does not show much rise. The
official data shows that not even 2 per cent of the workers were provided jobs
by the Employment Exchanges during 2001. The data regarding provision of jobs
are totally unreliable since they do not show for how many days the workers were
provided with jobs after placement by the Employment Exchanges. The
representatives of the trade unions therefore stated in the meeting that calling
the scheme as National Employment Service is misnomer since it does not provide
any worth noting service of providing jobs.
Employment Exchanges (Compulsory Notification of Vacancies) Act, 1959 made it
mandatory for all establishments in public sector and private sector employing
25 or more employees to notify vacancies to the nearest employment exchanges.
Thus the smaller establishments were excluded from the purview of the Act. Many
modern establishments with less employees but huge turnover automatically get
excluded from the purview of the Act. The government thus kept several loopholes
for the private sector employers to avoid implementation of the Act.
make the matter worse the government of India issued instructions only to public
sector undertakings to fill vacancies from the panel of names submitted by the
Employment Exchanges. However, the private sector managements were not having
any obligations to recruit employees from the Employment Exchanges. As a result
of this, the private sector managements were only sending notification of
vacancies without any commitment to recruit which practically exempted them from
the purview of the Act.
Employment Exchanges further became meaningless when a subsequent judgement of
the Supreme Court diluted the element of compulsion for the public sector
management for making selection from the panel of names submitted by the
Employment Exchanges. After this judgement the public sector managements have
also been avoiding use of Employment Exchanges, which further eroded the faith
of the workers about the efficacy of the government machinery to provide jobs.
Over and above this, the rampant corruption prevalent in these exchanges for
recommending a worker’s name for a particular job has created further hurdles
in making the service useful for the workers.
advancement of new technology in industrial undertakings, the training and
development of skill acquires increasing importance. However, the government of
India thinks that only through a training programme the unemployment problem can
be tackled effectively. Already huge educated manpower is without jobs in the
country while the steps to downsize the manpower in all major industries have
already rendered a large number of skilled and trained workers unemployed in the
to Employment Exchanges data by the end of 2000 two crore and ninety five lakh
educated unemployed had registered their names. Of them one crore and sixty nine
lakh were matriculates while 74 lakh were undergraduates. The number of
graduates and postgraduates who were without any jobs stood at 53 lakh. The
break up of the graduates and postgraduates who were not having any source of
livelihood by the end of 2000 was follows:
should be noted here that the actual number of educated unemployed will be much
higher in view of non-registration of large number of educated personnel. The
above data does not mention the highly skilled manpower, which has been rendered
surplus in organised industries.
above data does not include lakhs of apprentices who have received training of
special skill but have not been provided with jobs. In Nasik in Hindustan
Aeronautics has trained more than 400 workers for highly skilled jobs but they
cannot get job except in aeronautics establishments. But HAL refused to provide
them with work and thus they remained without work despite their high skills.
growing unemployment among women is also reflected in the data available with
the Employment Exchanges. The live register shows that of these exchanges
80,20,000 women sought employment in 1995. Their member went up to 1 crore and 5
lakh in 2000. The Directorate General of Employment and Training under ministry
of labour has admitted that the live register of women job seekers has shown an
increase of 48.9 per cent during 1991 and 2001. The unemployment of educated
women has risen substantially during the period. The above data further shows
that the percentage of women job seekers among the total women job seekers has
increased from 68.7 per cent in 1991 to 78.1 per cent in 2000. However,
placement of women in jobs is not even 2 per cent. Moreover, placement does not
mean that the women proposed by the Employment Exchanges have really got a job
of a permanent nature. The largest number of women job seekers are from Kerala
followed by Tamil Nadu while the smallest number is from Rajasthan where taking
job by a woman is generally discouraged by the social backwardness.
review of the National Employment Service prepared by the ILO has suggested that
the government of India should consider the scheme of giving unemployment
allowance to the unemployed workers. However Deputy Director of the Directorate
of Employment and Training has pointed out that the central government has
rejected the proposal in view of high cost involved in introducing such a
scheme. Certain state governments give some relief to the unemployed workers but
the government of India does not agree with it and it apprehends that the
employed workers will also try to take advantage of the scheme.
union representatives strongly objected to the unilateral decision of the
government of India on this issue and pointed out that the misuse of the scheme
can be checked through proper administrative measures. They further pointed out
that the government of India did not consult the trade unions before taking this
decision. They stressed the need for the payment of unemployment relief. They
considered it extremely important since sufferings of the unemployed in India
are very pathetic. When new technology is introduced the number of jobs are
reduced and the society must bear the burden of such growing unemployment in the
employers’ representatives from PHD Chamber of Commerce expressed the view
that in a period of liberalisation the employers should have a right to choose
suitable workers and they should not be compelled to recruit workers only
through the Employment Exchanges. They pointed out that the functioning of the
Employment Exchanges is not up to the mark, which also results in private sector
employers not using the services of the Employment Exchanges.
employers’ representatives observed that the payment of unemployment allowance
would put a heavy burden on the country and would adversely affect the
development of the economy. They asserted that the employers would not be able
to contribute any amount for payment of such allowance.
referring to stiff competition among the industries due to the policy of
liberalisation employer’s representatives argued that cutting down the cost of
production was necessary to be competitive in the market. In such a situation
down sizing the manpower was natural. Presently Indian industries are having
huge surplus manpower making them non-competitive in international market,
argued the employer representatives.
trade union representatives criticised the view of the employers who failed to
generate any jobs in the economy. The private sector also does not have any
commitment to provide jobs to scheduled caste and scheduled tribes workers. It
also does not have any humane attitude towards physically handicapped persons
who faith to get any jobs in the private sector undertakings.
K Pandhe, president, CITU while initiating the discussion from the trade union
side pointed out that the government of India has not announced any policy
towards generation of jobs in the country. The prime minister himself announced
10 per cent reduction of jobs in central services. In every organised industry
manpower has decreased drastically while large number of small scale and
traditional industries have been closed down due to central government’s
economic policies. Under these circumstances without any proper employment
generation programme the working of Employment Exchanges is becoming
30 years ago the union labour ministry had a Central Committee on Employment,
which looked into the question of employment generation. However, the committee
has been made defunct for over 3 decades and labour is not consulted by the
central government on employment generation in the economy. The nomenclature of
the ministry of labour and employment has now been changed to ministry of labour
indicating that the government was not serious about generation of employment in
CITU representative criticised the Planning Commission’s approach to
automatically linking employment generation with GDP growth. He pointed out how
despite GDP growth the employment has declined in the country. He objected to
the data provided by the Planning Commission about employment generation in the
economy, which failed to reflect ground reality in the country.
criticised the ILO report’s failure to mention introduction of land reforms as
a source of employment generation in the rural India. He noted that without
alternate policies regarding generation of jobs, the employment situation cannot
improve and jobless growth cannot be checked.
CITU opposed the proposal to allow private employment providing agencies.
Already many employment rackets are operating in the country cheating young
unemployed. Huge money is charged on the plea of providing jobs abroad and the
agency disappears after collecting huge money. The clandestine employment of
seamen is very common in this country. The government of India has failed to
check the depredation by private recruiting agencies and their malpractices
continue unabated today. In view of this ILO’s proposal to encourage
development of private job providing agencies, only the central employment
agency should be developed for providing jobs and trade unions should have a
greater say in the matter of working of the scheme.
A Mittal of HMS while criticising the functioning of the employment exchanges
noted that workers have lost all faith in these exchanges since they do not
provide any job opportunity to the workers. He drew attention to the decision of
the Indian Labour Conference but the government of India failed to act on the
recommendations. The bureaucratic functioning of the Employment Exchanges have
only added to the paper work without providing gainful employment to the needy
Mahadevan of AITUC gave example of China, which modernized its economy and also
created additional jobs in the economy. He noted that small-scale industry has
provided more jobs to the workers but that sector is also facing crisis. Rural
unemployment has gone up much higher. Under these circumstances mere extension
of employment exchanges in the rural areas and among small-scale sector will not
help in generating jobs. The central government economic policies will have to
be changed to provide job orientation in economic development.
such an important discussion the ILO Delhi Office provided only two and a half
hours time. Hence, a detailed discussion was not possible. The representatives
of trade unions pointed out the shortcomings of the meeting. The ILO promised a
two-day meeting in July for a detailed discussion on the subject so that the
question of employment generation can be discussed in depth.