You must have noticed in the press that on 17.5.2006 Sh. Arjun Sengupta, Chairperson of the National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector (NCEUS) had submitted a new proposal of the unorganised workers Social Security Bills along with a Report on Social Security for USW presented to the Prime Minister. It is also reported that the Bill on social security for the USW is likely to be introduced either in current session or the monsoon session of the Parliament.
On 5th May, 2005 over twenty thousand workers of the unorganised sectors marched to the Parliament and gave a petition to the Petition Committee of Parliament through the Speaker Sh. Somnath Chatterjee along with a signature of over one million workers of the unorganised sector. On 10th May, 2005 this representation was forwarded by the Honble speaker to the Prime Minister along with a copy to Late Sh. Madhu Dandwate. On 13th May, 2005 Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, Chairman of the NCC-USW also wrote to the Prime Minister enclosing a copy of the Petition and the draft legislation prepared by the NCC-USW.
After a meeting with Prof. K. Jaya Shankar Member of the NCEUS on 24th Sep, 2005 Sh. T. S. Sankaran wrote to him a letter giving a critic of the important sections/chapters of the National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector proposal.
On 22nd Nov, 2005, (only a few days before the Indian Labour Conference (I.L.C) scheduled to meet on 9-10 Dec, 2005) the Ministry of Labour called a meeting which was attended by the representatives of National Advisory Council (NAC), the NCEUS, the NCC-USW and the National Centre for Labour (NCL) but the Central Trade Union (CTU) representatives were not called at this meeting, All the CTU representatives got an opportunity to express their views on the Bills proposed by the NAC and NCEUS at the I.L.C. At both these meetings, on 22nd Nov, 2005 and on 9-10 Dec, 2005 the Labour Ministry assured separately that “a drafting committee” will be formed to finalise the Bill on U\unorganised Sector Workers on the basis of all available proposals. To the best of our knowledge no “drafting committee” assured at the joint meeting of 22nd Nov, 2005 or at the ILC was ever formed. Instead we have another Bill proposed by the NCEUS as Part-II of the Report before us along with a 128 page Report on Social Security for Unorganised Sector Workers presented to “Prime Minister” and 131 pages of Appendices. This Report has no reference to the draft Bill proposed by NCC-USW or to the critique of NAC or NCEUS Bills submitted by NCC-USW. The Bill proposed by NCEUS has not included anything either from our proposal or from our critiques of the two proposals. We will be circulating a critique of this Bill soon.
In this background NCC-USW has decided to organise a preparatory meeting of the constituents of NCC-USW on 19th June, 2006 at the above mentioned address at Pune to plan its strategy to ensure that the Parliament passes a really implementable Bill and not become a victim of the temptation to rush through half backed law as cautioned by Justice V R Krishna Iyer in his letter dated 13th May, 2005 to the Prime Minister. You are requested to attend this meeting to ensure that your input for the future programme is included in the planning of NCC-USW. In case you can not reach at this meeting, please send your suggestions in writing regarding the timing for Central programmes to ensure active participations of the different segment of the Unorganised Sector Workers themselves and their organisations.
We welcome the call of the sponsoring committee of Indian Trade Unions (SC-CTU) to launch an intensive countrywide campaign on various demands which will culminate in a National Convention of Working Class in the last week of July, 2006. Our intention of planning for a June end meeting of Unorganised Sector workers is to give proportionate space to the demands of 37 crore workers of the Unorganised Sector the campaign of central trade unions which got lossed in the long list of demands for the above programme of the SC-CTUs.
We would also like to recall that a total unity of all the Central Trade Unions on The Construction Workers (Regulations of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act 1986 proposed by NCC-USW had helped in getting through various crucial amendments by the Parliament in The Building and Other Constructions Workers (Regulations of employment and conditions of Service) Bill 1996 because a proper understanding of the essential provisions required in a really implementable Bill was created much in advance. But due to various reasons, all the attempts by NCC-USW in bringing together all the CTUs for developing a concensus have not succeeded this time. Only few CTUs have been participating in the NCC-USW efforts. We shall be organising another open meeting with the CTUs in the end June, 2006 or early July, 2006 at Delhi. The invitation for this meeting will be jointly issued next week by the NCC-USW and those CTUs which are in agreement with our proposal. We hope that all the remaining CTUs will join hands in developing a concensus on a comprehensive Legislation to provide social security and labour welfare to over 37 crore workers of our country.
The report of the workshop on the USW Bill held on 3rd April 2006 at Bokaro, Jharkhand is ready but due to certain unavoidable circumstances it is not being circulated with this Circular. We are planning to prepare a quarterly newsletter for internal which will start after the Pune Meeting. we are sure to include the Bokaro and Pune reports in our 1st News Letter. Please send your suggestions for the USW News Letter.