About 50 per cent of all workers engaged in the air transport sector are on contract, with 80 per cent of these serving for up to three years, says a Labour Bureau survey. The highest number of such workers is in the Southern zone, and the lowest in the Eastern zone.

“The proportion of contract workers to total employment in the air transport sector all-India level was 49.57 per cent…Field investigations reveal that 211 sample units engaged 805 contractors and provided employment to 43,166 contract workers,” says the ‘Report on the Working Conditions of Contract Labour in the Air Transport Sector 2016-17’, which covered major, medium and small airports in different cities during April to June 2016.

The zone-wise employment of contract labour was 17,131 (39.69 per cent) in the Southern zone, 14,260 (33.04 per cent) in the Northern zone, 8,469 (19.62 per cent) in the Western zone, and 3,306 (7.66 per cent) in the Eastern zone.

The survey was confined to national-level scheduled and non-scheduled air transport operators, such as Air India, Blue Dart, GoAir, Jet Airways and airport managing agencies, such as Airports Authority of India, GMR and GVK.

In terms of wages, the lowest paid occupation among male contract workers was gardener, with a wage of ₹198.67/day, and the highest paid was technician/supervisor with a maximum of ₹759.45/day.

The highest number — 30.58 per cent — of contract workers were engaged in loading/unloading, followed 18.12 per cent general operator, 12.10 per cent sweepers/cleaners, 7.54 per cent drivers, and 5.11 per cent hired as safety inspectors.

In terms of the length of contracts, 80 per cent were engaged for up to three years, 29.40 per cent for up to one year, 48.74 per cent for over a year and up to three years, 15.70 per cent more than three years and up to five years, and 5.14 per cent more than five years and up to 10 years.

According to the survey, 96.65 per cent of contractors were maintaining muster roll/attendance register and 95.53 per cent were maintaining the wage register.

Also, 92.96 per cent of contract workers were getting provident fund benefits, and 93.71 per cent were covered under the Employees State Insurance.

The survey also found 80.17 per cent of contractors depositing wages directly in workers’ bank accounts.

However, field officers of the Bureau also observed that contractors reportedly made less payment to contract workers by showing number of days worked as less than the actual number worked for.

Also, in some cases, workers were being employed for shorter periods to avoid statutory obligations under the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 Payment of Bonus Act, 1965 etc.