Govt to extend health and social security benefits to un-organised sector workers

05 January 2016

The government is keen on making social security schemes accessible to workers in the unorganised sector, which is growing at a faster pace, finance minister Arun Jaitley said.

He said the government is keen on making health and social security benefits accessible to un-organised sector workers like construction workers, migrant labourers, volunteers of different schemes like Anganwadi workers etc.

For this, mechanisms can be thought of wherein social security benefit contributions to workers can be made by employers at a single window for all workers, the finance minister said while speaking at his second pre-budget consultative meeting with the representatives of different trade union groups on Monday.

Jaitley said that the present framework of social security is structured for different groupings organised, unorganised and those not employed / BPL, which are functional requirements. He said there is a need to ensure a convergence of benefits for all these groupings, above a minimum threshold.

The finance minister further said that for employment generation, the government has taken many intiatives like `Make in India', `Skill India', `Mudra Yojana' and `National Career Service Portal'.

He said that around 9.63 lakh organisations have registered on National Career Service portal and 20.9 million persons have also registered for employment on the same. Along with skill development, identifying labour-intensive industries and new areas where jobs can be created like renewable energy and reusable resources etc and providing employment linked training can be some of the ways to capitalise on the demographic dividend, Jaitley added.

The pre-budget consultative meeting was attended by representatives of trade union groups besides minister of state for finance Jayant Sinha, finance secretary R N Watal, DEA secretary Shaktikanta Das, revenue secretary Dr Hasmukh Adhia and chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian.

Trade union representatives who attended the meeting include among others Vrijesh Upadhyay (BMS), Rajender Prasad Singh (INTUC), A.L.Sachdev (AITUC), Harbhajan Singh Sidhu (HMS), Tapan Sen, (CITU), Sankar Saha (AIUTUC), S.P. Tiwary (TUCC), Jyotiben Macwan (SEWA), Rajiv Dimri (AICCTU), L.Rashid Khan (LPF), Deeepak Jaiswal (NFITU) and Ashok Ghosh (UTUC). 

In a memorandum to the finance minister the trade union representative suggested among other things suggested a people oriented budget for 2016-17 that would help in creation of more jobs/employment opportunities, including opening of the government sector for the employment opportunities.

It was suggested to increase the minimum wage to Rs15,000, especially after the 7th Pay Commission recommended lowest scale starting from Rs18,000.

Other suggestions include need for taking effective and timely measures to keep prices especially of food items under control, strengthening of social security schemes for the workers especially those working in un-organised sector, extension of National Pension System (NPS) to the workers of un-organised sector.

They pointed to the need for overhauling of tax structure, raising minimum tax exemption limit to Rs5 lakh in case of employees, creation of a separate social sector affairs department coordinating different ministries and experts and to include representative of such sectors so that the benefits reach directly to the real beneficiaries.

Trade unions also suggested opening of a 'worker's bank' for general interest of workers. It was suggested that there is need for amendment of Contractual Labour Act and same wages be given for same work for those working on contractual basis.

Anti-dumping measures especially in metal sector have to be taken up on utmost priority to save the domestic industry from irreparable loss and ultimate closure.

There should be no ceiling on bonus and no FDI be allowed in crucial sectors such as Railways and defence and no disinvestment of profit making PSUs be made among others.

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