Bill for unorganised labour likely in this session: Minister

Special Correspondent

Calls for a National Social Security Authority

No comments on EPF rate revisionGovernment committed to abolishing child labourMNCs covered under national laws

NEW DELHI: The Government will introduce a Bill for workers in the unorganised sector, most likely before the end of the budget session, Union Minister for Labour and Employment K. Chandrasekhara Rao said on Saturday.

He told the Rajya Sabha that he shared the members' concern over the problem of unorganised workers. "The Government is seized of the matter. We will come to the House with adequate legislation."

The Unorganised Sector Workers' Social Security Bill was being finalised. Agriculture labour would be included in it. The Bill calls for establishment of a National Social Security Authority, comprising a supervisory board and an executive office. The Authority will formulate a policy in coordination with the State governments, welfare boards and other agencies for unorganised workers.

Mr. Rao was replying to a discussion on the working of the Ministry.

Asked whether the Government proposed to raise the interest on Employees Provident Fund from 8.5 per cent, he declined to comment. He said

it was a policy decision, which could not be announced, as elections were due in five States. "I am bound by the Election Commission's model code of conduct."

The Government was committed to abolishing child labour and action would be taken against those who employed children.

The budget allocation for abolition of child labour was raised from Rs. 178 crore to Rs. 602 crore in the Tenth Plan. The National Child Labour Project, launched in 12 districts, was extended to 250 districts all over the country. Fiftyeight hazardous areas were identified and Rs. 2 lakh was given to each District Collector for creating awareness of child labour.

On the problem of contract labourers working abroad, Mr. Rao said the matter did not relate to his Ministry but he would take it up with the Prime Minister.

Housing scheme

Replying to queries, Mr. Rao said the Government would make efforts to reduce beedi workers' contribution from Rs. 5,000 under a subsidised housing scheme. The Ministry was reviewing all 47 Labour Acts to see if amendments were required to make them more effective.

Mr. Rao said there was no separate rule for multinationals, which were covered under the national laws.

Several members had complained that MNCs were de-recognising labour unions and that they did not recognise the rights of workers.

Superspeciality hospitals

The Minister said Rs. 200 crore was earmarked for setting up four superspeciality Employees State Insurance Corporation hospitals in Hyderabad, Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata. One hundred Industrial Training Institutes were modernised and 400 more would be upgraded with World Bank assistance.