TEN years after enacting the Unorganised Workers Social Security Act, the Maharashtra government has constituted a Welfare Board to expedite the process of formulating schemes including social security benefits for unorganized workers. Officials from the Labour Department said that the Board is headed by the State Labour Minister Sambhaji Patil-Nilangekar with five state government officials as members. Other members include members representing labourers and employers, two eminent persons from civil society and a legislator.
As per the department, there are approximately 3.65 crore unorganised labourers in Maharashtra. These include domestic workers, construction workers and others. Constituting a Board is a step towards helping these workers avail welfare schemes, said an official. “The Board will expedite the process of formulation of policies for implementing seven schemes to be extended by the state government,” said Pankaj Kumar, development commissioner for unorganized workers.
Another official said the Board will identify occupations to extend the benefits of the welfare schemes. “As per the Act, there are no occupations mentioned in it. It only says unorganised worker means home-based worker, self-employed workers or wage worker in the organized sector,” said the official adding that the 122 occupations identified in 2004 for Aam Adami Bima Yojana may be included by the Board.
Besides, it would examine demands of inclusion of other occupations and take a call. There have been demands by elected representatives to include powerloom workers, farm labourers, journalists and newspaper vendors, drivers, personal assistants of elected representatives and others in the Welfare Board for unorganised workers, added the official. Chandrakant Dhumal, member of the Board and state president of RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, said he would ask for formulation of policies for effective implementation of welfare schemes and funds.
“The focus would be on formulating the policies in such a way that its benefits can be availed by all the workers in the unorganized sector. Besides, we will also take up the issue of making adequate provision of funds for these schemes,” said Dhumal. He further said that the focus needs to be on registration of workers in the unorganized sector. “Currently, the registration of unorganised labourers such as construction workers, and mathadi workers is being done with respective boards. The call on registration of workers in unorganized sector will be taken at the Board meeting once it is decided which occupations should be included in it,” said an official from the labour department.