October 28, 2021 5:57:59 am
MORE THAN 98 per cent of workers working in ceramic cluster in Thangadh taluka of Surendranagar district are bereft of social security net as they are not covered under the Employees State Insurance Scheme as Employees State Insurance (ESI) Act, 1948, Employees Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provision Act and enforcement of Contract Workers (Regulation and Abolition) Act is not rigorous there, a survey conducted by an NGO has concluded.
According to the survey report titled Study of ESI Coverage in Ceramic Industry in Thangadh, of the estimated 20,000 people working in 225 ceramic units in Thangadh cluster, only 1.5 per cent are getting benefits of ESI Act.
The survey, conducted by Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), sampled 1,000 workers employed in 208 units and concluded that only 16 workers (1.5 percent) working in eight units have ESI coverage while 984 or 98.5 percent are not covered under the ESI Scheme. Of the 16 employees, 15 are also getting benefits of Provident Fund (PF).
PTRC is a Vadodara-based NGO working in the field of occupational health and for the rights of workers. It is also fighting for rights of workers who develop silicosis due to unsafe working conditions.
Of the total surveyed workers, 984 told surveyors that they were not getting benefits of ESI even though some of them have been working. Of the 800 male workers, only 12 (1.5) percent said they were getting benefits of ESI and only four out of 200 female workers said they were getting ESI benefits.
Quoting a reply given by the ESI Corporation in response to an RTI application, the PTRC survey report notes that as of March, 2018, there were only 6,347 insured persons registered with it from Thangadh area.
“Ceramic workers encounter a number of hazards that place them at greater risk of disease. For more than one hundred years it has been well documented that ceramic workers experience higher rates for silicosis, Tuberculosis (TB) and lead poisoning,” the survey report read. PTRC director Jagdish Patel said that his NGO has records of deaths of 16 ceramic workers since 2016 onwards.
Panchal Ceramic Association Vikas Trust (PCAVT), an organisation of ceramic factories in Thangadh, conceded the ESI coverage was low in general but denied violation of laws. “However, that is due to not all units falling in the area where ESI Act is applicable. Plus, not all workers are willing to join the ESI Scheme and refuse to pay their share of the premium,” PCAVT president Suresh Sompura said.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.