Center For Workers Education

for building a democratic labour movement in India

Why We Need an Integrated labour Law Reform to Upgrade Labour Standards-3

The facts of life

  • The current phase of globalization has created a new international division of labour with reorganization of production operations on post-fordist models and shifting the labour intensive, hazardous to health and environmentally costly manufacturing operations and other works to developing countries, particularly in Asia. This phenomenon has actually converted less developed countries into pollution havens for dirty industries. The share of dirty industries in total FDI in India was 51 percent in 1991-2000. Of these 27.4 percent was in energy, 4.5 percent chemicals, 7.5 percent transport, 5.5 percent metallurgy and 3.5 percent in food processing, all classified as Red or most polluting industries, while hotels and tourism having 1.7 percent and textiles 1.2 percent came under orange industries. The largest inflow to approvals of foreign investment was in the dirty industries chiefly chemicals.In the mean time, with the advent of liberalization, many goods reserved for public sector were de-licensed and private and foreign firms were allowed in these sectors including polluting industries such as mining, power generation, Chemicals etc. The impact of this shift is naturally costly for the environment and the workers in those industries.
  • India’s 75000 km of long coastline has already been converted in to a destination for waste disposal of the entire world. Lead Ash, Battery scarp, Zinc ash, waste oil and old ships laden with asbestos are increasingly reaching here. India is importing over 70,000 MT Zink waste and 50,000 MT lead waste through its 7 major and 100 minor ports. Huge amount of plastics and metal waste are coming into India from Australia, Canada, UK and USA apparently for recycling. Indian company Futura industries of Tamilnadu imported 10,000 metric tones of plastic wastes since 1992. Indian coasts are now emerging as world’s largest ship breaking yards.
  • This is only the tip of the iceberg and shows only the trend. The complete picture is really scary. The pollution content ratio of India’s trade increased from 0.480 in 1985 to 1.38 in 2000.
  • Only in three years between 2006 and 2009, the number of hazardous industries increased many folds and the number of workers employed in hazardous industries increased from 324437 to 1949977.
  • According to ILO estimates, around 403,000 people in India die every year due to work-related problems, i.e. more than 1,000 workers every day or 46 every hour die due to occupational health and safety problems. The current burden of accumulated occupational diseases in India is estimated to be at around 18 million cases.
  • ILO reports an estimated 40,133 fatal accidents in India. ILO also estimated 2,61,891 fatal work related diseases. Another estimation claims 924,700- 1,902,300 incidences of occupational diseases per year 121,000 deaths caused by occupational diseases per year.
  • Labour department is completely paralyzed by way of downsizing the size of the staff. There are only 2642 Safety Officers, 604 Inspectors (against a sanctioned strength of 938) and 35 certifying surgeons (against a sanctioned strength of 94) in the country.
  • The state’s attitude towards occupational health and safety in industries is also reflected in its budgetary allocations also. In India, only 3 percent of GDP is spent on health care and almost 75 percent of it goes to the curative health. As for as occupational health and safety is concerned, the government expenditure on it is almost negligible.

Read a report and get the references of data here: Corporate led Globalization aggravating the problems of occupational Health and Safety;


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