About two crore labourers working for daily wages and on contract earning more than Rs 3,000 may soon get access to banking services.
Labourers across various sectors — manufacturing, services, security — will get zero balance banking accounts opened in their names and will get salaries paid through cheques to ensure full payment and weed out exploitation of middlemen in the next year and a half.
This is the vision of Labour Department’s ambitious Labour Management System and Financial Inclusion of Labour in Banking, or Mahashram scheme, that aims to cover about 4.5 crore workers.
Chief Minister Ashok Chavan on Sunday inaugurated this scheme in the presence of labour unions and officials.
He said: “The scheme will make a transformation in the state by inclusion of 4.5 crore labourers in the banking ambit. In the first phase that will be completed within 18 months, 2 crore workers will benefit.”
The scheme was cleared after an amendment to the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, and the Payment of Wages Act, 1936, was passed by the state legislature in the budget session.
The Bill has been sent to the Centre for approval, after which it will be promulgated as amendment to the existing Act.
The project will be implemented through public-private-partnership and the department has roped in Glodyn Technoserve as a total service provider.
Glodyn will tie up with banks to open bank accounts for workers.
Labourers will also have the facility to withdraw money through biometric authentication wage cards at facilities provided by banks in the radius of their workplace.
A prototype of this card was released on Sunday.
“A pilot project will be implemented from this month at Thane district for all labourers, even those earning less than Rs 3,000. They will get their salaries paid through cheques,” said Labour Secretary Kavita Gupta.
She added: “The idea is to increase productivity of labour and financially empower them to compete in a global market.”
The project requires Rs 150 crore investment to create infrastructure for labour financial inclusion.
However, this will not be a burden on the state exchequer.
The service provider will charge nominal service charges to businesses for providing them with online services such as database of labourers and single window platform for all state licenses.
Farm labourers and domestic workers have not been included in the first phase of this project.