National Working Group Meeting, Mumbai
 

The national working group meeting of ‘Social Security Now’, a network of 500 organisations working on the cause of social security for unorganised workers, was held on June 9, 2009 at YUVA Centre, Mumbai. The meeting intended to provide future strategies for social security campaigns in the context of newly formed government.

The meeting began with welcome note by K T Suresh, YUVA. He recalled that YUVA hosted an earlier National Working Group of the Social Security Now, which had an outcome in the form of the Campaign song. Explaining the agenda of the meeting, Sarita Bhoi, CEC said that it is the right time for the civil society particularly for ‘Social Security Now’ to strategise and plan for a nation wide campaign for social security for the unorganised workers. J John from the National Secretariat of SSN observed that though the Social Security Act was passed prior to the general elections, it never became part of the campaign strategy of the Congress government. He said that it would be interesting to examine why the state is willing to promote NREGA and not social security for unorganized workers.

Priti Darooka, PWESCR said that we should look beyond the purview of the labour ministry for social security. Giving the example of the right to food Act, she put emphasis on universalising social security by providing it to all those who are needy and vulnerable and not just workers. She further said that eight categories of those who have been left out, e.g. critically ill, should be provided with social security. Working group in the Planning Commission is working on providing conditional cash transfer in some government schemes. Direct conditional cash transfers have been successful in Brazil, South Africa etc. and would help in plugging the corruption. Cash transfer should be opposed because it does away with government responsibility of building infrastructure, she added.

Duarte Barreto, FEDINA raised the concerns over provident funds and gratuity of the workers. He said that the funds in the PF and Gratuity heads are not deposited in the right place. Citing the example of one factory in Bangalore, where Rs. 50 Lakhs for the PF and Gratuity Funds of the Workers have been stolen, he emphasized on the need for proper implementation of the laws to regulate the process.

Raju Bhise, YUVA is of the view that NREGA is supported because the conflict with capital is less. He said that legal identity and social protection would increase accountability of the capital. If the investment is beneficial to farmers and workers, there will be political and economic benefit too. According to him, to get out the liberal economy framework is difficult. We should also think how we should pose the issue of social security in the post economic crisis period.


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