What are the Approaches to Labour Welfare ?

Approaches to labour WelfareThe various approaches to labour welfare reflect the attitudes and beliefs of the agencies which are engaged in welfare activities. Welfare facilities may be provided on religious philanthropic or some other grounds. Moreover, the different approaches to labour welfare reflect the evolution of the concept of welfare. In bygone days, the government of the land had to compel the owner of an industrial establishment to provide such basic amenities as canteens, rest rooms, drinking water, good working conditions, and so forth, for their employees. Such compulsion was necessary because the employer believed in exploiting labour and treating it an unfair manner. But times have changed, and the concept of welfare, too has undergone changes. Many progressive managements today provide welfare facilities, voluntarily and with enlightened willingness and enthusiasm. In fact , welfare facilities are not restricted to the workers alone. They have now been extended to the society in general. In other words, labour welfare has been extended to include social welfare. Tata steel workers at Jamshedpur, for example spends Rs 10 crore each year on social welfare. Brooke Bond has set up a free animal welfare clinic at Gevrai, Aurangabad under the direct charge of a qualified veterinary doctor. Jindal Aluminium, Bangalore, maintains the famous Naturopathy and Yogic sciences Centre and public school for the benefit of the public. The Jindal scholarship trust has been set up, under which deserving students are given scholarships. The Hindustan Machine Tools has a big playground and a community hall, which are let out for competitions and functions.

The approaches and their brief descriptions are:

  • The policing theory of labour welfare
  • The religion theory of labour welfare
  • The philanthropic theory of labour welfare
  • The placating theory of labour welfare
  • The placating theory of labour welfare
  • The functional theory of labour welfare
  • The social theory of labour welfare

Policing theory: According to this view, the factory and other industrial workplaces provide ample opportunities for owner and managers of capital to exploit workers in an unfair manner. This could be done by making the labour work for long hours, by paying workers low wages, by keeping the workplaces in an unhygienic condition, by neglecting safety and health provisions, and by ignoring the provision of elementary human amenities, such as drinking water, latrines, rest rooms and canteens. Clearly, a welfare state cannot remain a passive spectator of this limitless exploitation. It enacts legislation under which managements are compelled to provide basic amenities to the workers. In short, the state assumes to role of a policeman, and compels the managers of industrial establishments to provide welfare facilities, and punishes the non-compiler. This is the policing theory of labour welfare.

Religion Theory: The religion theory has two connotations, namely, the investment and atonement aspects. The investment aspect of the religion theory implies that the fruits to today’s deeds will be reaped tomorrow. Any action, good or bad, is therefore treated as an investment. Inspired by this belief, some employers plan and organize canteens and crèches. The atonement aspect of the religion theory implies that the present disabilities of a person are the result of the sins committed by him or her previously. He or she should undertaken to do good deeds now to alone or compensate for his or her sins. There is the story of a big Jain employer who firmly held the belief that the provision of welfare facilities for workers was outside the duties of the management.  Whatever he did provide was under government compulsion and supervision. It so happened, however, that the children born to him died as soon as they were born. Later his own health suffered. He felt that as a compensation, or expiration or even as an investment in a good deed, he should liberally contribute to the crèche in factory(as well as to child-welfare institution), had also to medical services for his workers. Consequently in this particularly factory, there came to exist an excellent crèche and a well-organized dispensary.

Philanthropic Theory: Philanthropy means affection for mankind. The philanthropic theory of labour welfare refers to the provision of good working conditions, crèches and canteens out of pity on the part of the employers who want to remove the disabilities of the workers. Robert Owen of England was a philanthropic employer, who worked for the welfare of his workers. The philanthropic theory is more common in social welfare. Student hostels, drinking facilities, the rehabilitation of crippled persons, donations to religious and educational institutions, and so forth are examples of philanthropic deeds.

Paternalistic theory: according to the paternalistic theory, also called the trusteeship theory, of labour welfare, the industrialist or the employer holds the total industrial estate, properties and the profits accruing from them, in trust. The property which he or she can use or abuse as he or she likes is not entirely his or her own. He or she holds it for his or her use, no doubt, but also for the benefit of his or her wokers, if not for the whole society. For several reasons, such as low wages, lack of education, and so forth the workers are at present unable to take care of themselves. They are therefore, like minors, and the employers should provide for their well-being out of funds in their control. The trusteeship is not actual and legal, but it is moral and, therefore not less real.

Placating Theory: This theory is based on the assumption that appeasement pays when the workers are organized and are militant. Peace can be bought by welfare measures. Workers are like children who are intelligent, but not fully so. As crying children are pacified by sweets, workers should be pleased by welfare workers.

Public Relations Theory: According to this theory, welfare activities are provided to create a good impression on the minds of the workers and the public, particularly the latter. Clean and safe working conditions, a good  canteen crèche and other amenities, make a good impression on the workers, visitors and the public. Some employers proudly take their visitors round the plant to show well they have organized their welfare activities.

Functional Theory: Also known as the efficiency theory of labour welfare, the functional theory implies that welfare facilities are provided to make the workers more efficient. If workers are fed properly, clothed adequately and treated kindly, and if the conditions of their work are congenial, they will work efficiency. Welfare work is a means of serving. Preserving and increasing the efficiency of labour.

Social theory: The social obligation of an industrial establishment has been assuming great significance these days. The social theory implies that a factory is morally bound to improve the conditions of the society in addition to improving the condition of its employees. 

HR-Professionals 12 Industrial Laws 12


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