Date: 24th Aug' 2005

Ms. Sonia Gandhi,
UPA Government

Sub: Unorganized Sector Workers Bill

Dear Madam,

While thanking you for an Excellent - Sexual Harassment Bill 2005 to be introduced in this session of Parliament, we wish to draw you attention to the urgent need for a Comprehensive Legislation and not piecemeal Legislative attempts for the Unorganized Sector Workers numbering 37 crores of which substantial numbers are women.

There have been many drafts of Unorganized Sector Workers Bill, prepared during the periods of NDA Government ( 4 drafts of Bill circulated by the Ministry of Labour) and the UPA Government ( one Bill by Ministry of Labour, two Bills drafted by National Commission for Enterprises on Unorganized and Informal Sector and the one circulated by NAC being the most diluted version) but none of them, takes care of the Social Security, Welfare and Regulation of employment and wages, conditions of service, dispute resolution, Rights over Natural and Common Resources, Complaints Committee on Sexual Harassment together in an integrated form without which no Legislation can be implemented in the prevailing working conditions of the Unorganized Sector Workers. Spending Committee of Central Trade Unions have already submitted there critique and suggestions to the Director General Labour Welfare of these Bills, a copy of which is enclosed for your ready reference. We firmly believe that the workers must be given due space not merely as 'beneficiaries' but as active participants in the formulation and implementation of schemes, with adequate representation including proportionate representation to women workers in the Tripartite Boards at Local, Taluk, District and State Levels and only then the Legislation can be implemented effectively.

On 14th Feb' 2003 NAC had organized a consultation with the Labour Minister where the Central Trade Union representatives were present. After hearing the Labour representatives the Labour Minister assured he would organize a 'National Seminar' to discuss the issue of a Comprehensive Legislation to get a consensus and form a 'drafting committee' to draft the Legislation.

In view of the above weaknesses in the Bills under circulation and the assurances of the Labour Minister for calling a National Seminar and appointing a 'drafting committee', it is not reasonable to expedite and introduce a 'half - baked Bill' in the Parliament in the current session. A Bill once introduced has obvious limitations to the amendments which can be accepted in the Parliament. Therefore we request you to please give time for reaching a consensus on an INTEGRATED AND COMPREHENSIVE BILL which can be introduced in the winter session of the Parliament.

Yours sincerely,

S. Bhatnagar
R. Geetha
(S. Regional Co-ordinator)