Thursday, May 24, 2007
   
 

SOCIAL SECURITY FOR THE UNORGANISED SECTOR WORKERS

The Union Cabinet today gave its approval for the following for social security for the Unorganised Sector Workers:

(i)                  Welfare schemes for workers in the unorganized sector will be introduced in a phased manner to fulfill the commitment made in the National Common Minimum Programme.

(ii)                 The Government shall constitute a National Advisory Board to design, from time to time, suitable welfare schemes for different sections of unorganized workers and recommend the same to the Government

(iii)               On the recommendations of the National Advisory Board, the Central Government will, from time to time, notify scheme or schemes for one or more sections of unorganized workers.

(iv)                The schemes notified by the Central Government will contain provisions for:

(a)                 life and disability cover;

(b)                 health benefits;

(c)                 old age protection; or

(d)                 any other benefit that will be decided by the Central Govt.

(v)                 A Bill will be introduced in the Parliament as early as possible for this purpose.  The Bill would provide for setting up a National Advisory Board and enable the Central Government to notify welfare schemes from time to time.

(vi)                Apart from designing model schemes for workers in unorganized sector, the National Advisory Board shall monitor the implementation of all notified welfare schemes; ensure that every eligible worker in the unorganized sector is registered and receives an identity card; oversee the record keeping functions performed the district level and the State level;

(vii)              The Bill will also provide for constitution of a State Level Advisory Board by the State Government concerned.

(viii)             The procedure for registering the workers in the unorganized sector will be prescribed and implemented.  Every worker in the unorganized sector shall be eligible for registration subject to the following conditions:

(a)                 he/she should have completed 18 years of age;

(b)                 he/she should make a self-declaration affirming that he/she is a worker in the unorganized sector;

(ix)               Every registered worker in the unorganized sector shall be issued an identity card which shall be a smart card.  It shall carry an unique identification number and shall be portable.

(x)                The record keeping agency for this purpose shall be the district administration.  However, the State Government will direct that the record keeping function shall be performed by:

(a)                 The District Panchayat in rural areas, and

(b)                 Urban Local Bodies un urban areas.

            It would facilitate formulation of social security schemes for the unorganized sector workers.

BACKGROUND:

           

According to the survey conducted by the National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) in 1999-2000, the total employment in both the organized and the unorganised sectors in the country was 39.7 crore, of which 2.8 crore are in the organized sector and 36.9 crore (about 93%) are in the unorganised sector. Of this, 23.7 crore workers are in the agricultural sector and 1.7 crore are engaged in construction sector. Remaining workers are engaged in mining, manufacturing and service sector. On account of their unorganised nature, these workers do not get adequate social security and welfare.

Some welfare schemes are being implemented by the Central Government for specific occupational groups of unorganised sector workers such as beedi workers, non-coal mine workers, cine workers, handloom weavers, fishermen, etc. These are apart from the National old Age Pension Scheme and National Rural Health Mission. Some of the State Governments have also been implementing welfare programmes for certain categories of the unorganised sector workers. Some NGOs are also providing social security to certain categories of workers. Despite all these efforts, there is a deficit in the coverage of the unorganised sector workers in the matter of labour protection and social security measures.

The National Common Minimum Programme (NCMP) of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government has accorded high priority to the matter of ensuring the welfare and well-being of workers, particularly those in the unorganised sector such as agricultural workers, construction workers, beedi workers, handloom workers leather workers, etc.