Right to Social Security for unorganized/informal workers, including that of wastepickers and other waste workers.
The campaign acknowledges that the NDA government has recognised the need to provide a comprehensive social security cover to all unorganised workers and has initiated a number of schemes.
However, we would like to reiterate that social security is a right and its provision must be justiciable. We urge the government to make adequate financial provision in the forthcoming budget to finance a universal non-contributory social security scheme for all informal workers, including unpaid women workers, who do not have social security cover. The campaign holds the view that contributory social security schemes (based on workers’ contribution, or contribution by states should be treated as add-ons and should not form the core of the social security programme.
The campaign demands that the universal social security schemes should have the following features:
- Old Age protection. All old aged persons (men and women), widows and physically/challenged persons, not under a formal social security cover, should be provided with a pension which is at the level of half of the national minimum wage. The age of eligibility for pension must be revised to 50 years for women and 55 years for men in the informal sector. Within this, special relaxation must be made for the particularly vulnerable workers in various occupations and social groups.
- 2. Health & Maternity. The universal health package should be made available through the public health system and should cover OPD and Diagnostics. Women must be unconditionally entitled to a maternity benefit for nine months (3 months before delivery and 6 months after delivery) at an amount not less than half the minimum wage.
- 3. Life and Disability cover: Workers must be provided an insurance of Rs 100,000 for death by natural causes and Rs 200,000 for death due to accidents. This should be along the lines of the provisions of the Construction Workers Welfare Board.
Further, we urge the government to take the following steps for the implementation of the social security programmes:
- Ensure, within six months, that all informal workers are provided with ID cards for social security which should be solely based on self-declaration. Such registrations should not use biometric identification systems. Also this must be independent of all existing identification cards, such as Aadhar and U-WIN. The union budget must bear complete fiscal responsibility for this process.
- A single Ministry/Authority should be created which would responsible for the provision and implementation of social security. All necessary funds for the programmes should be transferred to the Unorganised Workers Social Security Fund.
- Amendments should be made to the Unorganised Workers Social Security Act (UWSSA) 2008 to make the provision of universal social security schemes rights based and with universal coverage. Portability must be ensured.
- The creation of the National and State Social Security Boards should be mandatory under the Act and should be done within six months. The Boards should be given the necessary powers and should not be only advisory. Workers’ Facilitation Centres should be set up as mandated by the Act.
Finally, we also demand that the government should provide all necessary financial and administrative support for the implementation of the MGNREGA and the NFSA which will help to create a healthy and productive population, and also increase the productive asset base of the rural areas.
Right to Social Security Campaign