RS passes Unorganised Workers Social Security Bill

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New Delhi, Oct 23 (UNI) Making a big stride in the labour history of the country, the Rajya Sabha today passed the Unorganised Sector Social Security Bill 2007 providing for 94 per cent of the unorganised labour in the country covering about six crore workers and their families.

The Bill piloted by Labour Minister Oscar Fernandes also provides for National Social Security Advisory Board to recommend suitable welfare schemes for different sections of unorganised workers. The state governments are provided to constitute State Social Security Advisory Board to recommend suitable welfare schemes for different sections.

Replying to the discussions on the Bill, Mr Fernandes said that it was a wrong to think that that the Bill had excluded the labourers with incomes exceeding the ceiling fixed for the Below Poverty Line families. The BPL workers will not be making any monetary contributions to the scheme, while the people with income will make good their portion of contributions. "Please don't treat this Bill as ultimate and every sector of workers like domestic, safai karmacharis and cycle rickshaw pullers will be covered under the scheme", he assured the House. The Bill covers about six crore unorganised workers and the total coverage will be in the range of 30 crore families with an assumption that each worker will have five family members, he said.

Two amendments moved by CPI-MP Tapan Kumar Sen were negatived by 28-34 votes when the Bill came up for voting.

The workers in the construction sector are exempted from making any payment because a cess was collected from the sector for providing for health insurance and other facilities.

He said a worker and his family members covered under the scheme will be able to get medical treatment worth Rs 30,000 in any part of the country on the basis of the identity card issued to the employee.

The Minister said the Bill was one more instrument to help the poorer sections of the people along with the schemes like NREGP, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Indira Awas Yojana which too were helping the people in the fields of employment, education and housing sectors.

Studies had shown that the migration had been checked wherever the NREGP was in operation which was no mean achievement. If the family is not migrating than it would help check child labour and helps the administration to bring them to the schooling system.

He said there had been support for this Bill from all sections and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi was often making inquiries regarding the progress of the Bill, he said. ''We have not brought this bill because of elections but to genuinely help the poor unorganised workers'', he said.

The Labour Minister said it was not possible for bringing everyone in the scheme in one go. ''This is a beginning and we will try to bring in more schemes into the net, he said. He said many countries including the ones in Europe were evincing interest in the working of the scheme,'' he added.

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