The term unorganized worker refers to the worker who earns his daily livelihood as a home based worker or a self employed worker or a wage worker in the unorganized sector. It includes a worker in the organized sector who is not covered by any of the acts pertaining to welfare Schemes as mentioned in Schedule –II of Unorganized Workers Social Security Act-2008. In simple terms an unorganized worker is one who is not entitled to the benefits of labor laws – which are The Workmen’s compensation Act, 1923; The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947; The Employees State insurance Act, 1948; The employees Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provision Act, 1952; The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961; The Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972.
As per the 66th survey report of National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) Survey of 2011-12, it is estimated that the unorganized sector workers, constitute 88 percent of the total Labour force of 47.41 crore, which is 39.14 crore involved in the unorganized sector throughout India. Unorganized Workers Social Security Act, 2008 was enacted to provide the welfare of the unorganized workers. The Act provides for the constitution of National Social Security Board at the central level and State Social Security Board at the State level which shall recommend formulation of social security Schemes which are life and disability cover, health and maternity benefits, old age protection and any other benefit as may be determined by the Government for unorganized workers.
The state of Jammu & Kashmir has no such board in vogue to render the welfare schemes of unorganized workers hitherto. It speaks the volume of vulnerability and plight of the labor force involved in the unorganized Sector in Jammu & Kashmir. However as a follow up of the parliament legislation “Building & Other Construction Workers Welfare Act, 1996” and “Building & Other Construction Workers (RE&CS) Act,1996” the Government of Jammu & Kashmir somehow managed to establish the J&K Building & Other construction Workers Welfare Board in 2007 and first constituted in 2010, which runs the welfare schemes for the registered construction workers, the most vulnerable section of the society and second largest portion of the unorganized workers after agriculture workers. The Board provides disability assistance scheme, Educational assistance scheme, and Marriage Assistance Scheme, Chronic Disease Assistance Scheme, Death cum Funeral Scheme and Maternity Benefit scheme to its registered workers.
Former Labour & Employment Minister Haseeb Drabu claimed on the floor of the house while delivering his speech in 2017 about the achievements of the Board that the J&K Building & Other Workers Welfare Board is the richest organization of Jammu & Kashmir. The board has registered nearly 3.5 lakh construction workers since its inception and has disbursed huge amount among its beneficiaries under its different schemes. But the tragedy is that, on the grassroots level the genuine construction workers are not getting its due benefits, due to the menace and rule of touts, agents, fake labour unions with the help of some officers and officials working at the said level. The board is running and implementing its schemes through the Assistant Labour Commissioner offices at district levels besides taking the service of some contractual Data Entry Operators. The government should intervene at earliest for the safeguard of this organization in general and for the benefit and security of the construction workers in particular by bringing some major but strict guidelines for the strict implementation of the scheme and weeding out the role of agents, touts, middlemen, fake labour organization besides strict vigil and action on the officers and officials involved in the organized loot of this welfare board. The Government should establish separate offices, permanent staff and defined rules for the role of Labour Unions so that the Board could function for the betterment of the construction workers.
More recently Government of India has brought out the pension scheme for the eligible unorganized workers, which is the workers having the age group between 18 to 40 years will be entitled to Rs. 3000 after turning 60 years of age. A good number of young laborers will harvest the benefit of this scheme in Jammu & Kashmir also. Although the scheme is good and a step towards progress and happiness of the unorganized workers after turning 60 years, but the question remains what is in the kitty of the unorganized worker who works with tooth and nail to fetch out their daily livelihood till sixty years. It is the question and challenge for the government to look after now. So it is imperative for the government to bring some welfare schemes for the unorganized workers across all the trades so that their lives could feel a sigh of relief during times of need and crises.
The detailed deliberations given above fetch out the priorities to the government, for the general good of the unorganized workers. The government should bring out some social security schemes across all the trades for the notified unorganized workers, so that their worries could be addressed to some extent before turning 60 years. The government should act out the measures to curb the menace of official dereliction and loopholes in the implementation of the schemes by dealing with the corrupt officers strictly besides limiting the space of the middlemen, touts, fake labour unions and agents. In addition to it, the strict implementation of the provisions of the scheme be pushed to weed out the bogus and non-genuine workers for the betterment of the unorganized workers. Proficient officers/registering officers be put in service for the revamping of the Labour laws in spirit and abolishing of the menace of corruption. Impartial Audit teams be put in service to ascertain the genuineness of the disbursements of the funds under such schemes.