Toll-Free Labour Helpline Project With Government Of Jharkhand

The state of Jharkhand has an abundance of natural resources and a very diverse ecological system. This resource has been utilized for centuries by some groups of people for meeting development of state and also for meeting their need for a better lifestyle. The state of Jharkhand is one of the most vulnerable Indian state (ranking 16 out of a total of 17 in the Indian State Hunger Index) and among the poorest regions of India. The state of Jharkhand even faces a scenario where about 65 to 70% of the populations live below the poverty line and typically suffer from food shortage for 4-5 months a year. Meeting basic needs, food, shelter, education, basic health services of a household is a challenge for the majority, BPL families, daily wage labourers’ households, the building and other construction workers.

With the objective of instituting a grievance redressal mechanism relating to labour issues at the State level, a toll-free labour helpline – 18003456526 – was launched by the Chief Minister of Jharkhand in May, 2016. The Helpline is housed in the premises of and is managed by Phia Foundation. The Helpline is part of the endeavors of the Department to protect the interests of its working class in the organised and unorganised sectors, to effectively implement various labour laws, and to produce trained man power. The Helpline, aims to enhance the access of the workers (organized/ unorganised) to labour welfare schemes and programmes. It functions as a link between the Department and the labour force of Jharkhand, specifically those from the marginalised sections- workforce in the unorganised sector, child labourers, migrant workers, building and other construction workers.

The key objectives of the project are:

  • To increase community awareness and knowledge on the Labour Welfare programmes and other social security schemes.
  • To increase community demand on the Labour Welfare programmes and other social security schemes
  • To increase enrolment and accessibility of workers to Labour Welfare programmes and other social security schemes.
  • Redressal of grievances related to Labour Welfare programmes and other social security schemes

Since the time it has been set up the Toll-Free Labour Helpline has been abuzz with phone calls from distressed workers who have failed to get any response from the government despite repeated complaints, or Samaritans like the anonymous caller who helped in rescuing the young girl employed as a domestic servant. A total of 1892 calls were received and 253 grievances were registered by the Helpline till October 2016. 38% of these grievances were resolved. The Helpline team has been following –up intensely with the concerned officials to resolve the other grievances.

One of the critical roles of the Helpline has been the rescue of child labourers like the girl child who was employed in the BDO’s house. On the basis of a complaint by an anonymous caller, six children under the age of 14 years were rescued from a noodles making factory by a Task Force headed by the Labour Department. Similarly, following a complaint registered by a caller from Dhanbad a child in the age range of 10-12 years was rescued from a wholesale shop in Bakarihaat Area, Jhariya.

Overall, the Helpline serves as an important information and grievance redressal source for the poor, unskilled migrant workers in the state. The Helpline not only apprises this labour segment on the various social security schemes, rights and entitlements, but also facilitates their access to various entitlements.

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