for Unorganized Sector Workers

Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer
Baba Adhav
Working President
S. Bhatnagar
Correspondence Address:
B-19, Subhavna Niketan
Pitampura, Delhi-110034
Phones: 91-11-27013523, 27022243
Mobile: 9810810365
R. Venkataramani
Sr. Advocate- Supreme Court
Geetha R.
South Regional
February 10, 2007
Dear Friends,

We wish to draw your urgent attention towards the Unorganised Workers Social Security Bill 2007 which has been put on the official Website of the Ministry of Labour, Govt. of India for inviting public comments by 15th Feb, 2007. This proposal is a gross betrayal of the expectations and genuine needs of the workers of the unorganised sector and their dependents.

The proposal has completely ignored the suggestions given by all the organizations and forums since the recommendations of the Second National Commission for Labour for a social security legislation for unorganised sector workers, such as :-

1. The Petition of over one million Unorganised Sector Workers submitted to the Committee on Petitions of the Lok Sabha on 5th May 2005. It was submitted by representatives of a rally of 20,000 workers to Parliament, under the leadership of the late Shri Madhu Dandawate. Subsequently Shri V.R. Krishna Iyer wrote to Prime Minister Shri Manmohan Singh endorsing the comprehensive Bill prepared by the National Campaign Committee for Unorganised Sector Workers (NCCUSW). This Bill was discussed and finalized after incorporating the suggestions of numerous organizations of unorganised sector workers.
2. The Joint comments of the Sponsoring Committee of Central Trade Unions, critiques and suggestions of NCC-USW, NCL and other concerned organisations on the various alternative legislations drawn up. These legislations include the proposed Bill of the National Advisory Council, the two Bills proposed by the National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector (NCEUS) in 2005 and the one Bill proposed by NCEUS in 2006.
3. The assurance of the Labour Secretary Shri K.M. Sahani at a joint meeting (22nd Nov 05) of the Minister of Labour with representatives of NCC-USW, NCL, SEWA, NAC and NCEUS that a comprehensive bill will be drafted within 15 days for the consideration of the Committee of Secretaries, incorporating all the suggestions made at the meeting.
4. The proceedings of the tripartite committee formed as an outcome of the 40th session of the Indian Labour Conference held in December, 2005.
5. 19th Report of the Committee on Petitions of the 14th Lok Sabha (23rd Aug, 2006) strongly recommending the enactment of a comprehensive legislation covering the entire social security aspects and the service conditions of the unorganised sector workers.
6. The Joint Appeal of the representatives of Central Trade Unions, other unions and federations, organisations and movements working among agriculture workers and unorganised sector workers after the National Workshop of 19th Oct, 2006.
7. A Consortium of various NGOs from all over the country organized a National Convention on Social Security for Unorganized Workers on 26th - 28th October, 2006 at Nagpur at which over 800 representatives of NGOs and Trade Unions participated. The convention decided to mobilize unorganized sector workers and to support to above joint appeal of Central Trade Unions, other Unions and organizations working among the agriculture workers and the unorganized sector workers. National Coalition for Workers Rights (NCWR) announces the launch of the Nation wide Campaign in favour of the "unorganized workers social security bill”.

It appears that the persons who have prepared and cleared the 2007 draft legislation have only contempt for democratic institutions such as the trade unions, the Lok Sabha’s Committee on Petitions, and the people of India. They draft legislations on their own whims and fancies, choosing to ignore the prolonged and informed public debate and consensus on the issue.

It is true that the 2007 draft legislation has dropped some of the more absurd provisions of earlier draft legislations, such as collection of one rupee per day from the workers, employers and government and the differential treatment of APL and BPL workers etc suggested by the NCEUS. But the most crucial recommendations of the NCC-USW, NCL and the Central Trade Unions and their joint meeting have not been included in the 2007 draft legislation. These pivotal recommendations are the provision of social security along with guarantee and regulation of employment; participation of workers themselves in the implementation process through the mechanism of Tripartite Board instead of the “workers facilitation centre”; the earmarking of at least 3% of the GDP for Social Security for Unorganised Sector Workers; and a provision for this percentage to go up annually by half or one percent until a satisfactory level of social protection is reached for every man, woman and child in our country.

In these circumstances it is very important that instead of separate, divided efforts or individual initiatives we all come together and strongly oppose the unworkable Unorganised Workers Social Security Bill 2007. We propose that all of us come together once again, as we did on 19 Oct 2006, to demand a Comprehensive Legislation.

With warmest regards

Subhash Bhatnagar
(Co-ordinator of NCC-USW)