Even as it implements reform proposals aimed at improving the ease of doing business, the labour ministry will also focus on improving the lives of the vast workforce in the unorganised sector through a host of initiatives, including giving them some sort of social security cover.
The unorganised sector, which accounts for a little over 82% of the country’s total around 49-crore workforce, has largely been out of the social security schemes as well as the ambit of the labour regulations, and hence are a deprived lot also.
The source said this vast labour force would be issued with Aadhaar-linked Unorganised Workers’ Identification Number (U-WIN) cards to ensure that all the social security benefits reach to the persons aimed at. The government has plans to universalise social security benefits such as the Atal Pension Yojana and Employees’ State Insurance Scheme (ESIC) to all working population of the country by 2030.
However, there are plans are to make minimum wages (MWs) guaranteed for the country’s entire unorganised-sector workforce. While workers in 45 scheduled categories of employment are currently under the Centre’s MW umbrella — even in their case, the implementation is often lax as norms are voluntary — the plan is to make MWs mandatory and extend it to all segments.
It also intends to bring the entire unorganised sector under a minimum wage. This stems from the idea of making employment respectable and ensuring that everyone gets decent wages at the end of the month at a fixed date. The present dispensation also intends that they are entitled to paid leaves and a fixed working hour. This is also to ensure that they are not exploited in the hands of the employers.
Nothing much concrete has, however, been done by the present government since it assumed office for the unorganised sector. The proposal to issue U-WIN, initiated in 2014 only, was also put on the backburner over some cost-related issues.
Though the official said that the renewed focus on the unorgansied sector was aimed at appeasing the trade unions, who often blame the government for its anti-labour policies, sources said the government is actually under pressure following two pan-India labour strikes in as many years to win over the vast unorgainsed sector workers.
The official, however, said work on the labour reforms, merging 44 extant Acts into four codes, will be taken forward and there would be no looking back. Two major codes, Code on Industrial Relations and Code on Wages, would soon be sent for the Cabinet’s approval for discussion and passage in the upcoming winter session of Parliament.