The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Social security law on cards

New Delhi, Nov. 8: Labour minister Sahib Singh Verma has said his ministry was committed to introducing an umbrella legislation incorporating various crucial aspects of social security for the unorganised sector. The legislation, he said, will be introduced in the winter session of Parliament.

Addressing a news conference at the end of a two-day seminar on the unorganised sector, Verma said: “We have arrived at a consensus on the aspects this umbrella legislation will include.”

The Bill, as envisaged, is expected to include medical care, maternity benefits, old-age pension, unemployment insurance and educational opportunities.

So far, the vast number of unorganised sector workers have had no social security benefits, despite commitments made by a number of labour ministers to this effect. The workers in this sector include beedi workers, rickshawpullers, vegetable vendors, fishermen and cobblers, besides others.

Verma said the existing Janshri Bima Yojana of the LIC, which has benefits for 24 listed categories of unorganised workers, can now be merged with the Employees Provident Fund and the pension fund in order to ensure a comprehensive social security Bill for unorganised workers.

For instance, under the Janshri Bima Yojana, if an unorganised worker dies a natural death before reaching 60 years of age, he or she is entitled to a sum of Rs 20,000. In case of an unnatural death, it is Rs 50,000. For partial disability, the worker is entitled to receive Rs 25,000.

“We will require the help of non-government organisations in identifying the groups of unorganised workers,” the labour minister said. The NGOs will be made responsible for identifying these workers, setting up self-help groups and collecting premium for provident fund. “We will also ask the state government to contribute to the schemes,” added Verma.

Verma’s two predecessors, Sharad Yadav and Satyanarain Jatiya, had also laid a lot of emphasis on a social security scheme for unorganised workers. The general perception being that such a scheme will bring some relief to the most marginalised sections of workers.

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