More than 90 per cent workforce in India is part of the unorganised sector. Even the benefits of various schemes started for their welfare are proving ineffective due to poor implementation by the respective government authorities.
Speaking at the inaugural session of the two-day colloquium on ‘Workers in Unorganised Sector — Challenges and Way forward’ organised by the Chandigarh State Legal Services Authority on Saturday, Justice T S Thakur of the Supreme Court emphasised on the need of proper implementation of welfare schemes by the Centre as well as state governments.
“The largest constituency of our workers is in the unorganised labour. Of the 46 crore workers, 14 crore are women. Every state has poverty alleviation schemes but the benefits don’t reach them,” said Justice Thakur. He added that Rs 750 crore was collected for welfare of labour in Punjab but little has been spent. There is zero percent spending in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. We are insensitive towards them.
Justice Thakur, also executive chairman of the National Legal Services Authority, said that most of the workforce in unorganised sector gets wages lower than the fixed minimum wages. Though there is a construction workers’ protection Act but the authorities responsible for its implementation have shown little sensitivity, he added.
“When we provide justice, poor people shouldn’t be at disadvantage. They cannot afford to fight,” said Justice Thakur while informing the gathering that the National Legal Services Authority (NLSA) has devised Legal Services to the Workers in the Unorganised Sector Scheme, 2010 enabling the NLSA and the State Legal Services Authorities to act as a watchdog for expeditious implementation of beneficial schemes.
Also addressing the high court judges, district judges, advocates, officers of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh, and social workers, another Supreme Court judge Adarsh Kumar Goel emphasied on creating contingency security for unorganised workers alongside social security schemes. India has a Human Development Index of 0.162% and ranks 134th of 180 countries where 1/3rd of the total population live below the poverty line, he added.
Justice Hemant Gupta, executive chairman of the Chandigarh Legal Services Authority pointed out that of Rs 50 crore, Chandigarh Administration has spent only Rs 80 lakh on welfare schemes such as old aged pension, distribution of blankets and purchase of ambulances. He also highlighted the need to give due recognition to the workers engaged in unorganised labour such as house maids, newspaper vendors, fruit and vegetable sellers and rag pickers so as to protect their social, economic and legal rights.