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The Motor Transport Workers Act, 1961

The Motor Transport Workers Act, 1961 came into existence in March, 1962. This act was legislated exclusively for regulating the varied employment conditions. Before this, no other act exists which dealt with motor transport workers wholly however, there were certain enactments such as the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 and the Factories Act, 1948 which covered certain welfare provisions and employment conditions of the motor transport workers. Therefore, this triggered the Parliament for the special enactment in 1961.

The objective of the Act however apparently replicates the reason behind the enactment. The act has been enforced to bestow special rights to the motor transport workers for their welfare and to provide them with amicable working conditions. In order to make this act in consonance with other enactments, two of them has been amended namely the Central Labor Laws (Extension to Jammu and Kashmir) Act, 1970 and the Delegated Legislative Provisions (Amendment) Act, 1985.

The act has been divided into nine chapters. The first chapter is the Preliminary which constitutes the title and the definitions part. The act applies to all the states of India including Jammu and Kashmir. It has also been mentioned that the act would apply only to those motor transport undertaking who would employ minimum five workers. The motor transport undertaking means that that service which carries passengers, that is, the general public from one place to another through a transport carrier for certain reward. The worker, therefore, is that person who works in the undertaking and is hired either directly or through an agency. The worker could play multifarious roles such as a driver, conductor, cleaner, watchman, time keeper and any of those roles which are in a professional capacity and is related to the motor transport undertaking. However, those workers who comes under the definition of worker given in the Factories Act, 1948 or any other related acts would not be considered a worker under The Motor Transport Workers Act, 1961.

Chapter II provides that the motor transport undertaking should be registered under this act. The registration form has to be given by the employer, who would be final binding authority of the undertaking, to the authority prescribed by the rules under section 40 of the act.  Chapter III provides that the state government would appoint a chief inspector for the state and inspectors subordinate to him as much is needed. Also qualified medical practitioners would be appointed who would be referred to as certifying surgeons under this act. The surgeon would have to conduct health checkups of the workers employed in the undertaking.

Chapter IV deals with the provisions related to welfare and safety of the workers.  A canteen would be situated wherein the responsibility of the employer is to accommodate the workers employed under him. The type of furniture, food, and environment would all be responsibility of the employer. Also where the workers has to halt at night, in such a case, a proper rest room has to provided to them along with the medical facilities and first aid facilities. All the workers would be given a uniform and such other basic amenities such as raincoat for their convenience by the employer. Therefore, the employer has to fulfill the responsibilities provided by the state government. The next chapter gives the number of hours which every worker has to work along with the rest interval. The adults has to work for eight hours in a day in which the worker should not do it at a stretch but should have an interval of half an hour after every five hours.  Also a weekly rest would be allotted to every worker in the seven days schedule.

As per clause (a) of section 2, adolescents are defined to be those whose age lies between fifteenth to eighteenth years but exclusive of eighteenth year. Therefore, section 23 clarifies that a certifying surgeon would issue a certificate of fitness for each adolescents subsequent to which they could work in the motor transport undertaking. Section 14 provides that adolescents has to work for six hours including half an hour rest and they are not required to work in the night shifts, that is, from 10PM to 6AM.  However, the act apparently mentions in section 21 of the act that the children are not allowed to work in the undertaking. The child, as per the act, means those who have not completed their fifteenth year. Therefore, the act prohibits the child labor.

by Neha Dayal