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Nod for bill on social security for workers in unorganised sector

Friday 25 May 2007

Special Correspondent

It envisages welfare schemes for different sections in the category

Provides for setting up of national, State advisory boards Workers to be registered and given ID cards

NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved legislation to provide social security to workers in the unorganised sector. The bill will be introduced in Parliament on the first day of the monsoon session.

Social security for the unorganised sector was a commitment made by the United Progressive Alliance in its National Common Minimum Programme. "It was to be introduced in the budget session but this could not be done because Parliament was adjourned earlier than scheduled," Minister of State for Labour and Employment Oscar Fernandes told reporters.

Besides providing for a number of welfare schemes for the workers, who constitute over 90 per cent of the 40-crore work force, the legislation envisaged the setting up of a national advisory board to design schemes for different sections, Information and Broadcasting Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi said.

The schemes notified on the board’s recommendations would contain provisions for life and disability cover, health benefits, old-age pension or any other benefit decided by the Centre. Further, it would monitor the implementation of all notified welfare schemes, ensure that every eligible worker in the sector was registered and that he received an identity card, and oversee the record-keeping functions performed at the State and district levels.

The legislation also sought to provide for constitution of State-level advisory boards.

Urban local bodies and district panchayats, with the help of non-governmental organisations, would implement the schemes.

"The cost of the entire scheme is being worked out and it would be borne by the Centre," Mr. Dasmunsi said.

Every worker above 18 would be eligible for registration provided he/she made a self-declaration affirming that he/she was a worker in the unorganised sector. Every registered worker would be issued an identity card — a smart card with a unique identification number so that benefits could accrue to the worker benefits anywhere in the country, Mr. Fernandes said.

This was done for the benefit of migrant labourers.

The medical schemes would be implemented with the help of the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry, as health insurance required infrastructure.

Mr. Dasminsi said: "The Labour Ministry has ESI Hospitals but this facility can be provided only if there are a viable number of workers.

"The same is the case with health insurance. This can be done only if there is a healthcare facility available for the insured in case of emergency. Otherwise, it becomes a legal issue."

For the time being, the Centre would supplement the healthcare and medical insurance schemes being implemented in States, particularly Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.

See online : The Hindu

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