Unorganized sectors in India contribute significantly to economic growth, but this is not recognised due to a lack of statistical data and the lack of proper mechanisms for collecting it. According to the Union government's estimates, the unorganised sector employs approximately 93% of India's total workforce, such as construction workers, beedi rollers, as well as auto drivers and housekeepers. Despite contributing significantly to our GDP, unorganised workers are the easiest to exploit due to a lack of proper records. Job insecurity, insanely long work hours, hazardous working and living conditions and so on are some of the more common issues that an unorganised worker faces. Women and children continue to be the most vulnerable in these circumstances.
The Unorganised Workers Social Security Act, 2008
In 2008, the Unorganised Workers Social Security Act was enacted by the government to provide some social security for these workers. This Act is solely intended for unorganised workers to take up measures relating to life and disability, health and maternity benefits, old age protection, and any other benefits determined by the central government. The Act also empowers the state government to develop appropriate welfare policies for unorganised workers in the areas of provident fund, employment injury benefits, housing, educational schemes, worker skill upgradation, funeral assistance, and old age homes.
In 2009, the Government of India established the National Social Security Board for Unorganized Workers. Similarly, the Act directs the formation of the State Social Security Board to recommend to the state government suitable welfare schemes for unorganised workers, advise the state government in administrative matters, monitor the state government's welfare schemes for unorganised workers, review the progress of registration, assess performance at the district level, review the expenditure of funds, and perform any other functions assigned by the state government.
The Government of India has implemented several schemes, policies, and laws to ensure the social security of the working class. Following independence, several social security provisions were incorporated into the Indian Constitution as Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP). Article 21 states that bonded labour should be identified and that the government should make every effort to fully rehabilitate the labourers. The Directive Principles of State Policy were enacted as the government's guidelines. The State Government is required by DPSP to provide bonded labour with basic human dignity, and failure to do so will be a violation of Article 21 of the Constitution. Some of these schemes are overlapping and are taken into force even though a similar scheme is already being followed. This leads to various problems and the conundrum of the labourers in the unorganized sector remains unresolved.
M.C. Mehta v. State of Tamil Nadu was a landmark case. The Supreme Court of India directed the government to conduct a survey and to put an end to child labour in matchstick and cracker factories. The court also ordered that the minimum wage paid by subcontractors under the Minimum Wage Act be paid directly and that the provisions of Section 21 of the Contract Labour Act, 1970 be followed.
Despite their importance to the Indian economy, unorganised workers are the most insecure and vulnerable group in society. The enactment of scores of laws by the Indian government aimed at guaranteeing the security and welfare of unorganised workers has been beneficial for this community, however, such workers are still unprotected. Unorganised workers are also increasing at an alarming rate, but their most vital issues are still unresolved. Numerous initiatives and tactics have been applied by the government to guarantee working rights and interests in the unorganised sector. The Unorganised Social Security Act of India, passed in 2008, guarantees fundamental social security to employees working in an unorganised sector.
The Indian government has provided lots of programmes to carry out this policy, including Aam Aadmi Bima Yojana (life insurance), old age pensions, and so forth. The rules for smooth operation can be made by the central government and the state government respectively under the specified sections. The State Government and the National Board may be directed by the Central Government under section 11 to properly implement the provisions of this Act.