Y.S. RANA, CHNAIDGARH—The unorganized workers not only assist in building infrastructure but also they assist in building the nation but when it comes to their welfare it has been dismal progress on the ground. The Unorganized Workers Social Security Act was passed in 2008 setting up of a Board for their welfare is mandatory. Setting up such Board is the first step towards helping these workers gain access to government welfare schemes. The board will enable them to avail health and maternity benefits, old age protection, provident fund, housing and employment injury benefits but social security board eludes unorganized workers deprived of them many benefits in Chandigarh.
While talking to Mr Mahavir Singh, Member Secretary, State Legal Services Authority (SLSA), Chandigarh said that the authority has been taking up the matter with the Administration vigorously for the past more than two years. “It not only deprive the workers of availing benefits but Cess collected is either not being utilized or divert it to some other funds,” says he. He further said that when social justice was the primary objective of each government as envisaged in our Constitution, a reasonable return on labour was facilitated by social security laws. Lakhs of rupees were being collected as Cess from construction activities but not even one per cent of this amount was spent on the welfare of the unorganized workers, he added.
Mr Singh further stated that under the provisions of the Act, every unorganized worker shall be eligible for registration and shall be registered by the district Administration. But social security board eluded unorganized workers in Chandigarh, he said. Punjab has already introduced social security cover for domestic workers by providing a unique identity card linked to the Aadhaar number to avail the benefits of government schemes, revealed an official of Punjab Labour Department.
According to official data up to 2015, Chandigarh had collected Cell of Rs 64.49 lakh while Haryana collected Rs 18.59 crore; Punjab Rs 7.14 crore compared to Himachal Pradesh Rs 2.76 crore. While total Cess collection across the country accounted for approximately Rs one lakh crore. City has workforce participation rates in rural area is 35 and in urban it is 35.4.
The Act directs every state government shall notify constitute a state board to exercise the powers conferred on and to perform the functions as assigned in the Act. Even the Central Government has also issued directions to States/UTs for proper utilization of Cess fund in terms of Section 22 of the Building and other Construction Worker Act 1996.
Sources in the Administration revealed that still the Administration has not decided who would be the chairman of the Board. Even nominations for the board had not been made so far.
The government had identified 122 occupations in the unorganized sector. Unorganized sector workers include under self employment : Van and cycle rickshaw pullers, head-load workers, workers engaged in loading and unloading of goods, railway and street hawkers, masons and other masonry workers, cobblers, gold and silver smiths, ayahs, attendants in hospitals and nursing homes, domestic servants, carpenters, auto rickshaw operators, barbers, idol makers and fishermen.
Industries: Workers in mills, kite manufacturing units, earthen pottery, paddy husking, embroidery, silk printing, book binding units, hosiery, linesmen, Integrated Child Development scheme (ICDS),handloom units, public or hired motor transport services, security agencies, printing press, plastic industry and bricks or tile manufacturing units.
Industries (with less than 20 workers): Stone crushing, tailoring industries, shops and establishments, bakeries, construction, lakh industry, automobile repairing garages.