New Delhi, Oct 23 (UNI) Minister for Labour and Employment Oscar Fernandes today introduced the amended Unorganised Sector Workers' Social Security Bill in Rajya Sabha.
The Bill aims to provide social security to workers by introducing various schemes for their welfare.
Mr Fernandes said the amendments had been suggested by the Standing Committee of the ministry of Labour and Employment keeping in view recommendations stated earlier by the Arjun Sengupta-led National Commission For Enterprises In The Unorganised Sector (NCEUS).
Two major recommendations by the NCEUS pertaining to separate social security bills for farmers and industrial workers and to creating a National Social Security and Welfare Fund were not accepted by the government.
Ten social security schemes relating to old age pension, welfare schemes for artisans and handloom weavers, general insurance and health insurance, maternity insurance have also been incorporated in the amended Bill.
Rajya Sabha Members criticised the Bill introduced, saying it excluded a large number of workers in the informal sector.
There was also a demand for separate legislation for agricultural labourers.
Initiating the discussion on the Bill, Mr Rudra Narain Pani of the BJP first attacked the Government for trying to pass such an important Bill in a hurry. He said the matter involved was going to affect 39 crore workers, so it needed a thorough discussion.
He said the government was just interested in the enactment of the Bill for the sake of credit without thinking of how the provisions of the Bill were to be implemented.
Mr Pani demanded inclusion of event management workers and bringing in of separate legislation for agricultural workers.
Mr Chandran Pillai of the CPI(M) also criticised the Bill for leaving out agricultural workers, and also for dividing the unorganised workers between below and above poverty line, which, he said would actually leave out a large number of workers.
He said the organised workers contributed to 63 pc of the GDP but the Government attitude towards them was very casual.
Mr Pillai also objected to the Bill being kept out of the Constitutional Schedule on the pretext of allowing for flexibility.
He said unorganised workers deserved something from the Consolidated Fund of India.
He was of the view that the minimum national benefit could not be assured to unorganised workers through the Bill, which, he said, had been brought in for political mileage.
Moreover, Mr Pillai said, there was no penal provision in the Bill for those who fail to implement the schemes. He however, said he was not opposing the bill as it had made some beginning, but wanted the Government to incorporate the amendments moved by House Member Tapan Sen.
Taking part in the discussion, Mr G Sanjeeva Reddy of the ruling Congress said the legislation had created no implementing machinery, and had allotted only token funds for implementation of the schemes proposed under the Act.
He said the Bill did not cover the informal sector and was not clear on how it was going to cover the self-employed workers.
Mr Reddy also criticised the provision of the district authority being made responsible for issuing Identity card to unorganised workers, saying these authorities were already saddled with so much work that they could not be expected to do the job properly and speedily.
However, he also said the Bill should be supported as it was the first attempt to ameliorate the lot of unorganised workers.
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