Inclusion in election manifestos demanded for a host of proposals for informal workers

Informal workers constitute more than 90% of India’s workforce, and contribute more than 50% to the GDP, the statement said

Updated - February 09, 2024 07:45 am IST

Published - February 08, 2024 06:39 am IST - HYDERABAD

Image for representational purposes only.

Image for representational purposes only. | Photo Credit: K. Ragesh

Activists and representatives from various organisations and labour federations got together on Wednesday, to demand the inclusion of several demands for the informal workforce of the country, in the political manifestos ahead of the parliamentary elections.

Informal workers constitute more than 90% of India’s workforce, and contribute more than 50% to the GDP, the statement issued in this regard said, while noting that the labour codes introduced by the central government are not only inadequate and insensitive to the rights and basic needs of the workers but also have done away with several hard-earned sectoral legislations.

The proposals for inclusion in the manifestos include a comprehensive law for informal workers with provisions such as compulsory registration of workers and unions, compulsory recognition guaranteed through secret ballot, collective bargaining right, grievance redressal and dispute resolution.

An eight-hour work day with weekly offs and overtime pay, guaranteed minimum wage calculated on the basis of the 15th Indian Labour Conference’s norms and Supreme Court judgements, a minimum guaranteed income or MSP for the products for the self-employed, occupational health and safety measures for unorganised sector workers including health cards and annual health checkups, equal pay for equal work for women, sectoral welfare boards with one percent sectoral levy, and sexual harassment complaints committees at ward and district levels were part of the demands put forth.

Social security measures should include ESI coverage, housing and a monthly pension of not less than ₹5,000. Central and state budgets should have provision for a 3% allocation for social security of the unorganised sector workers, as recommended by the Lok Sabha standing committee on labour in 2008, apart from 1% of GST and 2% special tax on the super rich.

A migrant labour action plan must be incorporated in law with provisions for compulsory registration, provision of dry rations. child care, health care and children’s education.

Living wages, social security and minimum guarantee of income, apart from land rights and compensation in case of displacement and job losses should be ensured for agricultural labour and small famers. Working day for them should be six hours with a break.

Access rights to natural resources for livelihoods should be ensured, and protected for those who live off the resources, such as forest dwellers, fishermen/women, salt pan workers, potters, dhobis, and street vendors.

A special law should cover home based workers to ensure minimum guarantee of income dispute resolution and social security.

Comprehensive legislation for regulation of employment, working conditions, provision of social security, and protection from sexual harassment must be enacted for domestic workers, the statement said, besides demanding annual survey and rehabilitation plan for bonded labour and child labour, employment guarantee for 200 days also in urban areas, withdrawal of labour codes and restoration of the Building and Other Construction Workers Acts, Plantation Labour Act, Motor Transport Workers Act, and Salt Welfare Cess, and welfare schemes.

The organisations represented at the meeting include Women & Transgender JAC, Confederation of Free Trade Unions of India, Transport & Dock Workers Union, National Alliance of People’s Movements, and Working Peoples Charter among others.

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