M A I N   N E W S

Unorganised sector gets social security
Cabinet approves pension, insurance, health cover
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 7
Ahead of the General Election, the government today offered sops to the unorganised sector as it approved a social security scheme to be implemented as a pilot project as a prelude to a Central legislation. It also finalised the guidelines for wage negotiations in public-sector undertakings (PSU) on the condition that there would be no budgetary support.

Meeting for the first time after the return of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee from the SAARC Summit in Islamabad, the Union Cabinet approved the social security scheme, which would cover the entire working population in the informal sector.

The Cabinet approved the scheme in place of the Labour Ministry-proposed Central legislation for benefiting 37 crore workers in the unorganised sector, which would have required a cess on petrol and diesel to bear the cost.

“Since there is no legislation, the issue of cess does not arise,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told reporters after the Cabinet meeting chaired by the Prime Minister.

Asked if the legislation proposed by Labour Minister Sahib Singh Verma was not being brought because the government wanted to go for early poll, she said: “We would definitely like to give a statutory shape, but before this we would like to experience how the pilot project functions.”

She said the new nine-point guidelines to enable PSU managements to negotiate for a five-year wage structure from January 2002 were cleared on the condition that there would be no budgetary support for the wage increases.

As per the scheme, a monthly pension of Rs 500 would be offered on retirement or permanent or total disability to the widow of the worker or to the orphans with a provision of enhanced or reduced pension based on the contributions.

The scheme also provides the purchase of personal accident insurance to cover death or total disability for the worker for Rs 1,00,000 and also the purchase of cover under the Universal Health Insurance Scheme for a worker and his family. The scheme is financed by the contributions from employees, employers and the government at the rate of Rs 50, Rs 100 and 1.16 per cent of the national floor wage, which at present is Rs 1,800 per month per worker.

Workers drawing more than Rs 6,500 per month at entry point are not eligible to become members. Workers in the 36-50 age group are not eligible to become members after the initial five years. A specially constituted tripartite board will administer the scheme with active support from the existing Labour Ministry offices, organisations and infrastructure.

The Cabinet also gave ex-post facto approval to an agreement on visa-free travel for diplomatic and official passport holders between India and Thailand.

Under the agreement, signed by the Prime Minister during his visit to Thailand in October last, a citizen of one country holding a valid diplomatic or official passport would be exempt from visa requirements.

Ms Swaraj said these passport holders would also be allowed to stay in the other country for a maximum period of 90 days without a visa and their spouses and children would be granted residence visas valid for the duration of the assignment on the request of the Mission.

The agreement would come into force on a mutually agreed date, she said.


Norms for wage revision of PSUs

New Delhi, January 7
The Cabinet today approved guidelines for all central public sector undertakings (PSUs) and ministries which will enable them to negotiate the wage structure of workers for five years effective from January 1, 2002.

“The approval of these guidelines will enable the Central PSUs to start negotiations for the next round of wage settlement effective for five years,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told reporters after the Cabinet meeting.

A key feature of the guidelines is that no budgetary support for wage increase will be provided by the government.

The managements will be free to negotiate the wage structure for the employees not covered by the Justice Mohan committee report in respect of pay revision of Central PSUs.

While doing so, they have to keep in view that the wage revision is consistent with the generation of resources or profits by the enterprises concerned.

The PSUs, which have monopolies or operate under the Administered Price Mechanism, will ensure that any increase in wages after negotiations does not result in an increase in administered prices of goods and services.

As regards sick units registered with the BIFR, the guidelines provide that until the BIFR approves revival plan of such enterprises in which provisions have been made for additional expenditure on account of pay revision, no revision will be allowed to the workers.

The workers drawing basic pay up to Rs 6,550 a month will be entitled for neutrialisation of Dearness Allowance at 100 per cent of the basic pay, and those drawing basic pay beyond Rs 6,550 a month will be entitled for 75 per cent of neutrialisation of DA.

The PSUs have been asked to implement the negotiated wages after confirming to their administrative ministry and the Department of Public Enterprises that the revision was within these approved parameters. — UNI

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | National Capital |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |