for Unorganized Sector Workers

Campaign Office:
Siddiqui Building, 6122, Bada Hindu Rao, Delhi - 110006, Phone: 23510042
Correspondence Address:
B - 19, Subhavana Niketan Pitampura, Delhi - 110034
Phone: 91-11 -27022243, 27013523, 9810810365, E-mail: nccusw@vsnl.net

Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer

Prof. Madhu Dandvate
Chairperson-Reception Committee
5th May 05 Rally
S. Bhatnagar

R. Venkataramani
Sr. Advocate- Supreme Court Convenor

Dr. Baba Adhav
Working President
Geetha R
South - Coordinator

Date: 5th May' 2005

The Speaker
Lok Sabha,
Parliament House,
New Delhi.


1. We, the unorganized sector workers of India, who number 37 crores and who constitute 93% of the total work force of our country, of whom a substantial number are women, petition the august Parliament of India through you for recognizing our plight as also the crying need for redress through an appropriate law.

2. We are not a burden on society, for we happen to be the society itself, given our large number and the larger number of our dependents. Generations of neglect and indifference have consistently added to our loss of dignity, to our misery and to our difficulties. If, as a country, we are faced with problems of bonded labour, child labour and other social ills, we can trace their origins to this indifference and neglect. That we contribute nearly two-thirds of India's G D P is forgotten; that we contribute significantly to the alleviation of the problem of unemployment is side-lined; that we are the ultimate sufferers of liberalization and globalization is glossed over. Silently we have suffered all iniquities and injustices. We do not propose to do so any further we are confident that, at your hands, we will get the needed legislative mandate that will improve our status and thus enhance the prestige and strength of our nation.

3. What do we need by way of such legislative mandate?

Our problems and concerns are too well known to be elaborated here. Successive commissions and studies have dealt with this .The latest, The Second National Labour Commission, which was asked to work out the details of umbrella legislation for us, did produce a draft law. The Ministry Of Labour of the Government of India circulated the draft law and organized in November 2002 a National Seminar to consider this draft law. The sub group of the National Seminar which examined the legislative proposals was not satisfied and demanded action on specific lines; the conclusions of the subgroup were endorsed and adopted by the seminar. However even these were ignored in to by the Government of India as is evident from the succession of drafts that kept coming out of the Ministry of Labour. The latest of such drafts was no different.

4. We reiterate that we are producers of wealth for the country and do not want to be considered mere beneficiaries of state's munificence and treated as such. We want to be partners and participants in the process of formulating the law and schemes there under; we also want to be participants in the implementation of schemes through tripartite bodies at various levels in which we are represented in adequate strength.

Regulation of employment, payment of minimum wages based on the conclusions of the 15th Indian Labour Conference and supplemented by the judgment of the Supreme Court of India in the Raptakos Brett case, commitment to a policy on social security as the right of every Indian, provision of appropriate social security measures, and more -- the steps that will enable us to live in dignity as socially useful members of our society are matters that should inform the provisions of the proposed law.

Articles 41 and 43A of the Constitution of India are the bases for our demands.

5. Specifically, we want the following:-

(a) Given its size, there must be a separate law for agricultural workers, on the model of the Kerala law. The law can include workers engaged in horticulture, pisciculture, silviculture, poultry farming, animal husbandry, dairying and allied activities.

(b) The 1996 law on building and construction workers needs to be amended and made comprehensive on the lines suggested by the National Campaign Committee for Construction Workers under the chairmanship of Justice V R Krishna Iyer, retired judge of the Supreme Court of India.

(c) The law for unorganized sector workers should not be merely welfare oriented but also provide for regulation of employment, guaranteed minimum employment earnings, minimum wage as indicated above, fixation of piece rates in a manner that would enable a diligent worker earn after a day's honest work the equivalent of a time rated daily wage, appropriate and adequate provisions for social security including maternity entitlement, pension, ESI, PF, gratuity etc and safety, child care facilities, housing training and skill formation and up gradation, fixation of wages, resolution of disputes, protection of employment, protection of natural and common property resources - rights, protection of migrant labour and more, all these being implemented through tripartite bodies at various levels in which workers have the decisive say.

(d) Minimize the role of central Government to providing leadership, setting standards, co-ordination, funding and general direction, for which it may get advice from a high power tripartite Advisory Committee which will advise, among others, on matters relating to the nature of schemes to be drawn up by various Boards/Funds, the basis for distribution of central funds among various states and union territories/Boards/ Funds, implementation of the law and schemes and other allied matters.

(e) The functions of the state/union territory Boards must be specifically spelt out in the law; these must be such as to enable the Boards to function effectively and autonomously, without undue "interference" from the state or central government. The composition of the Board and its lower formations must be tripartite in nature and give the pride of place to the workers and their representatives, including adequate representation for women workers.

(f) The implementation of the law including implementation of schemes must be by the tripartite bodies at the appropriate level. In this scheme of things, there is no place for the Workers Welfare Centers, as they would make the whole process bureaucratic, disempowering the workers and their representatives.

(g) A single board and a single scheme would not serve the purpose we have in view; there must be provision in the law for the appropriate government to set up as many Boards as are necessary for different groups of employments. As conditions vary from place to place and from state to state, the grouping of employments will have to be decided by the appropriate governments, on the basis of the suggestions made by the representatives of Unorganised Sector Workers.

(h) The fixation of wages and more particularly, the piece rate wages must be enabled to be fixed by the concerned Board keeping in view the principle that a diligent piece rated worker must be able to earn a time rated daily wage for eight hours of work.

(i) The law must prescribe a minimum percentage of the GDP to be set apart for social security and this percentage must be raised every year until it is able to provide, say after ten years or so, a level of social security that is reasonably satisfactory.

(j) There should be a provision for a Complaints Committee on sexual harassment in the work place for Unorganized Sector Workers.

The National Campaign Committee for Unorganized Sector Workers, of which Retired Justice V R Krishna Iyer is the President, Is currently engaged in the preparation of a draft law incorporating the above and other matters and hopes to get it ready soon. Meanwhile, it is our earnest request that our petition carrying the signatures of millions of workers is sympathetically considered and appropriate action taken. We will be grateful if an opportunity is afforded to some of our representatives to appear before you and make an oral submission also.

6. Another matter of great importance to us: The National Rural Employment Guarantee Bill, 2004, introduced in Parliament in December 2004, suffers, in our view, from many deficiencies and calls for amendments that would ensure

(a) Time bound extension to the whole of rural India;

(b) extension of the law to semi-skilled and skilled work with appropriate wage protection, keeping in view that a very large number of us are semi-skilled and skilled in a variety of occupations and any proposal to confine the guarantee to unskilled manual work will result in obliteration of our skills and force us to migrate to urban areas for employment suitable to our skills.

(c) Removal of restriction of the law to only BPL households.

(d) The law should be put permanently on the statute book and should not be only for a limited period.

We, on behalf of 37crores of us, thank you, in the hope, that our petition receives the utmost consideration at your hands.