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Unorganised sector to benefit
Social security Bill cleared

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 24
The government today cleared the introduction of a legislation to extend benefits, life and disability cover, health and old age pension, to workers in the unorganised sector on the first day of the monsoon session of Parliament.

Besides providing for number of welfare schemes for these workers who constitute over 90 per cent of the 40 crore work force, the legislation would also enable the setting up of a national advisory board to design, from time to time, suitable schemes for different sections of these workers, information and broadcasting minister Priyaranjan Dasmunshi told reporters here.

The ministry of social justice and empowerment had earlier planned to introduce the Unorganised Workers Social Security Bill, 2007 in the second part of the Budget session this year, but failed to do so.

Apart from designing model schemes for workers in the unorganised sector, the board would monitor the implementation of all notified welfare schemes; ensure that every eligible worker in the unorganised sector was registered and receive an identity card; oversee the record keeping functions performed at district and state levels, he said.

The Bill would also provide for the constitution of a state level advisory board by the state government concerned, Dasmunshi said.

The Cabinet had decided to implement the recommendations of the parliamentary committee on the conditions of the unorganised sector, he said.

The report, placed in Parliament towards the end of the Budget session, suggested a number of schemes for the welfare and social security of the unorganised sector workers, said the minister, who also heads the parliamentary affairs ministry.

The Bill seeks to provide pension and health insurance cover for nearly seven crore below poverty line (BPL) workers. An amount of Rs 26,000 crore is expected to be earmarked for the coverage plan, expected to be rolled out from the current fiscal, the first year of the 11th Plan period (2007-12). The above poverty line (APL) workers will be covered from the fourth and fifth year of the 11th Plan.

The ministry had recommended a premium of Rs 2,400 for pension and Rs 370.50 for health insurance for BPL workers. In the case of APL workers, the ministry had worked out a premium of Rs 524.5 per person per month.

The Standing Committee on Labour in its latest list of recommendations has said the government needs to pay more attention to the two laws that govern the rights of construction workers. These two laws are the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Condition of Service) Act, 1996, and the Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Cess, Act, 1996.

“However, no monitoring is being done with regard to their implementation. There is neither any information on the constitution of state welfare boards nor there exists any proper infrastructure regarding training, and skill development for construction workers at present,” the committee noted in the report, which was tabled in Parliament in the Budget session.

According to the survey conducted by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) in 1999-2000, the total employment in both organised and the unorganised sectors in the country was 39.7 crore, of which 2.8 crore were in the organised sector and 36.9 crore (about 93 per cent) were in the unorganised sector.

Of this, 23.7 crore workers were in the agricultural sector and 1.7 crore were engaged in the construction sector. Remaining workers were engaged in mining, manufacturing and service sectors. On account of their unorganised nature, these workers did not get adequate social security and welfare.

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