The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved a much-awaited bill that would provide social security to around 40 crore unroganised workers in the country. The Unorganised Workers Social Security Bill was something the UPA had promised under the Common Minimum Programme (CMP).
The bill, approved by the Cabinet for the second time in 15 months with some changes, would provide benefits like pension, family benefits, health and life insurance schemes.
The bill would ensure that 2.5 crore casual workers in the organised sector (not covered by current laws) also get these benefits. The new bill would also make it mandatory for the government to formulate schemes from time to time.
The bill was introduced in Parliament in its earlier form last September. It was then referred to a standing committee after protests from trade unions.
However, some major proposals of the Parliamentary committee, recommended by the trade unions, have not found place in the new version of the bill.
While the committee headed by CPI’s Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy has recommended a national fund for the implementation of schemes under the bill and apex boards with administrative powers, the government has expressed its inability to provide these.
The proposal for apex boards was also turned down. The Labour minister would head the national board with three MPs as members, apart from representatives from the unorganised sector, their employers, civil society and government officials.
The earlier demand of trade unions calling for separate bills for the agricultural sector and the non-agricultural sector (also recommended by National Commission for Enterprises in Unorganised Sector) was never taken into consideration by the government.