Workers in unorganised sector lack social security

while India draws attention for being the second-fastest growing economy in the world, workers in the unorganised sector continue to be denied basic facilities, says a government study.

In a first-ever initiative to quantify the contribution of more than 340 million (close to 93 per cent) workers in the country's unorganised sector, a study conducted by the National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector (nceus), under the Union ministry of small-scale industry, reveals that close to half of the workers are engaged in the construction industry.

"From road construction to domestic help, they work long hours for less than the minimum wage, receive no compensation for work-related injuries and there are no measures for their social security either,' says the study.

nceus, an advisory body, was created on September 2004 under the chairmanship of Arjun Sengupta, member, Planning Commission. It was set up to suggest measures for providing basic social security measures to workers in the unorganised sector.

"Most of the social security measures are targeted for workers in the organised sector. There is no political lobby for providing basic minimum social security to workers in the unorganised sector, who contribute significantly to economic growth,' says economist Amirullah Khan.

nceus has suggested creation of a national level fund for financing welfare programmes for unorganised sector workers.

The Planning Commission has recently recommended that smart cards be issued to them so that they can avail basic social security schemes.

"We support any initiative towards providing basic minimum social security to unorganised sector workers but the critical issue is linked to identifying the beneficiaries where the government has failed measurably,' says Anil Bhardwaj, secretary general, Federation of Indian Micro and Small and Medium Enterprises, an industry body.