People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
August 05, 2007
Unorganised Sector Workers’ Strike On August 8
M K Pandhe, president, CITU has sent the following letter to Dr. Manmohan Singh, prime minister of India on July 25, 2007 demanding comprehensive protective legislations for the unorganised sector workers and agricultural workers.The text of the letter is as follows:
THE National Common Minimum Programme of the UPA government has committed to enact comprehensive protective legislation for the agricultural workers and the unorganised sector workers. Unfortunately, even after three years of rule, this vital aspect of providing the basic minimum rights and benefits for the 93 per cent workforce of the country, contributing more than 65 per cent of the country’s GDP could not figure in the priority list for action by the UPA government.
We are also shocked to learn through the press and a release of the Press Information Bureau, that the cabinet has cleared a bill on unorganised sector workers. As per the reports, this bill contains nothing more than an enabling provision and lot of pious intentions. It has nothing to guarantee the unorganised sector workers of either improved working conditions or any social security benefits. Be it coverage, time frame, quantum of benefit and types of benefits - everything is left to the discretion and will of the government. It has totally ignored the unanimous demands of the central trade unions for a bill, which can protect the interests of the workers and have teeth to deter employers from evading their responsibilities. We feel such a bill should not even be considered for introduction, before it is thoroughly overhauled.
We hereby convey to you that in protest of such negligent and non-serious approach of the government on such a vital issue, the mass of the unorganised workers in the country have decided to go in for countrywide strike on August 8, 2007 demanding legislative protection, in its true sense, for the unorganised sector workers and the agricultural workers.
Two separate and comprehensive bills for the agricultural workers and the unorganised sector workers, covering all aspects of protection, including the conditions of work and social security;
Coverage of all basic labour laws should be extended to all the workers in these sectors;
Correct formulation of statutory minimum wages, as per scientific and well laid out norms, and its strict enforcement;
Ensure equal remuneration for women workers;
The bills should specifically provide for maternity benefit and child care facilities for all the women workers in the unorganised sector;
Floor level social security must be completely government funded and benefit defined;
Enrolment of workers should be on the basis of a nominal registration and renewal fee;
Government should allot at least 3 percent of GDP for the social security of the unorganised sector workers;
Establish a National Social Security Authority, and not just an Advisory Board, entrusted with the task of evolving a comprehensive national policy on social security covering all sections of workers and ensuring its fullest implementation;
The legislation must contain a compelling provision about the floor level social security, its universal coverage to all unorganised sector workers, funding obligation and a defined time frame;
The government should formulate the proposed legislations, in a transparent manner, involving the central trade unions and the organisations of the agricultural workers, holding steadfast to the ethos of tripartism. (INN)