RSS affiliate Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), India's largest trade union is up in arms against the latest draft of the Social Security Code, 2019 by the Central government. "It is totally disappointing for the workers", said BMS in a submission to the Labour Ministry. "The new draft is a weak cut and paste of the existing eight social security laws with different threshold limits for different benefits. This is contrary to the objectives of Codification. Unlike the Wage Code, it is not universal, i.e. it did not aim the last worker to be benefited. It creates a class division of privileged employees, workers and unfortunate wage workers with different sets of benefits", CK Saji Narayanan, national president, BMS said.
The first draft of the Social Security Code had proposed provisions like the right to social security for all, last worker having access to nearly 14 social security benefits and the constitution of a Central apex Council that is headed by none other than the Prime Minister himself. It also talked about Suraksha Mitrams being engaged in every local body level to assist workers in enrolling and disbursing benefits, creating a separate security cadre, assuring that wage for the purpose of calculation will not be less than minimum wages, benefits continuing even after retirement, providing a separate fund for gratuity etc. All these provisions are missing in the latest draft, BMS complains. The labour union demanded that the eligibility for gratuity should be reduced from five years to one year since up to 80 per cent of workers engaged in many organised sector units are contract labour.
"The intention of the exercise gets tainted in the proposal of opting out of ESI (employee state insurance) and shifting from EPS (employee pension scheme) to NPS (national pension scheme). There is no health insurance in the whole world which is comparable to ESI in terms of benefits and also running profitably without Government assistance. EPFO (Employee Provident Fund Organisation) itself has come out with a study that EPS is more beneficial to the workers compared to NPS.
Most of the powers under the Code are arbitrarily retained for executive decisions including power to exempt the law to establishments or arbitrarily reducing the rate of contribution to the social s funds. The Government share of 1.16 per cent in EPS has been withdrawn. Flaws in the existing social security laws raised by trade unions are not at all taken care of in the code. Inducting private players in implementing schemes and running ESI medical colleges and hospitals is also objectionable", BMS submission said.
The trade union observed that the draft has on many benefits made the employer personally liable. It wanted this provision to be replaced by social insurance but not commercial insurance. "Many allowances are exempted from the definition of wages, which will encourage erring employers to cleverly reduce their contribution to the EPF fund. BMS totally rejects the 4th draft and requests the Government to reconsider and modify the second draft considering the objections and suggestions made by BMS", Narayanan said.