ILC calls on government to provide universal social security

: The 45th Indian Labour Conference (ILC) recommended to the government that all workers employed under Central and State government schemes, including anganwadi, midday meal, ASHA, and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, should be recognised as “workers” and not volunteers or honorary workers and should be paid minimum wages.

Releasing copies of recommendations and resolutions passed by different committees constituted to examine issues raised in the conference, Union Labour and Employment Minister M. Mallikarjun Kharge told presspersons that the conference also recommended that social security benefits including pension, gratuity, health insurance schemes and maternity benefits should be extended to these workers.

Right to organise

The conference also resolved to ensure proper working environment for workers involved in these works and said anganwadi centres should be housed in a pucca buildings with all the basic amenities, and ASHA workers should be provided suitable working space with basic amenities. Besides that, workers should have the right to organise and collective bargaining.

In its recommendations the ILC said that the departments employing these workers should formulate an employment standing order for these workers to regulate their employment and service.

Another recommendation said that a one-time gratuity or lump-sum payment should be made to anganwadi workers and helpers who have retired or are retiring in the near future. Workers employed on a contract basis should be retained for all subsequent activities.

‘Ameliorate service conditions’

Service condition of the teachers and staff of the National Child Labour Project schools should be ameliorated along with appropriate infrastructure and amenities.

However, the representatives of the Department of School Education and Literacy and Ministry of Women and Child Development, who participated in the deliberation along with representatives of trade unions, did not concur with the recommendations of recognising those employed in these schemes as “Workers”.

They also not did concur on payment of minimum wages and providing pension and one-time payment of gratuity or lump-sum payment.

In another significant recommendation, the ILC said universal social security coverage should be provided for the entire working population of the country and they should have access to assured pension at the end of their working life.

Assured pension

As a first step the ILC said that the minimum assured pension under the EPS 1995 should be Rs. 1000, and pension benefits should be responsive to price rise. The new pension scheme should be suitably modified to provide assured pension to its members.

The conference also resolved that the existing government spending on social security schemes as a percentage of GDP was very low when compared to other countries, and this should be increased.

Similar to Right to Information and Right to Education, the government should also examine enacting a legislation for “Right to Work and Pension”.

  • ‘Anganwadi centres should be housed in a pucca buildings with basic amenities’

  • ‘One-time gratuity or lump-sum payment should be made to retired anganwadi workers’