RSS affiliate Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), India's largest trade union, has opposed several of the key clauses proposed by the Narendra Modi government in its draft labour code on social security.
It condemned the move to handover the assets of Employee State Insurance (ESI) and Provident Fund (PF) and six other central and state welfare schemes to the state governments. The trade union opposed contract labour, integration of ESIC and EPFO and cautioned against opening up Indian social security sector to foreign private players.
The "Draft Labour Code on Social Security 2018"proposes to amalgamate, simplify and rationalise 15 existing labour laws related to social security to form an umbrella social security cover that touches over 50 crore workers in the unorganised sector. The Narendra Modi government has recently stepped up efforts to give concrete shape to the umbrella social security cover, meant to benefit 50 crore workers in the unorganised sector.
Saji Narayanan C.K, president BMS, said it is highly disappointing that such an ambitious, historic and revolutionary legislation has been contaminated with ill-motivated, casual and highly objectionable provisions that will defeat the purpose of the code and adversely affect the beneficiary workers.
First of all, BMS believes that the code is not comprehensive.
"It does not attempt to universalise benefits or bring comprehensive and uniform social security coverage, so that every worker is benefitted by all the social security benefits," Narayanan said. This, according to him, will result in non-uniformity in serving benefits across the country. BMS complains that the draw code reduces the role of trade unions in the unified structure. It strongly demands that the labour representatives should have a predominant role in the apex Social Security Council, thereby giving it a tripartite character as mandated by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
While the current proposal is to have labour welfare under four administrative ministries - rural, urban, finance and labour - BMS wanted it to come under one single department or ministry. It alleged that the government is trying to disrupt the well functioning ESI and EPFO systems by transferring the assets of such schemes to the state governments.
"This is wrong. It is not feasible to allot funds directly to state governments. Further, the experience of state running ESI facilities and centre giving funds has proved to be a failure. Many state governments are poorly managing social security and welfare schemes like ESI and central welfare schemes. Diversion of funds by many state governments to meet its other immediate expenses is commonly seen, which result in the depletion of the corpus," Narayanan pointed out.
BMS also pointed to the proposal that allows state governments to designate intermediate agency - Fund manager agency, Point of presence Agency, Service delivery Agency, Benefit disbursement Agency or Recordkeeping Agency - and said that the intention of the whole exercise will be tainted by bringing private and foreign insurance and other companies into the social security sector.
"Professionalize government agencies but do not privatise or outsource the work. The law should not be one to canvass business for private and foreign insurance and other companies. Moreover, outsourcing the work of the social security organisations to private corporates by paying high charges from the hard earned money of workers is new and highly objectionable," Narayanan said.
Contract labour is another area of concern for BMS. They opposed the provision for employment under "Fixed Term", saying that it only encourages the contractual employment.