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MIGRANT WORKERS IN URBAN INDIA: LEGAL DIMENSIONS TO

THE SOCIAL SECURITY

Ajay Kumar
Migration is a complex phenomenon involving the movement of person, group from one
place to another. This movement in terms of duration, destination and characteristics may
vary .The migration of the workers from rural to sub-urban, and from these places to the
urban area particularly the metropolitan city has seen steady rise. The migration affects the
equilibrium at the place of origin and destination in terms of employment opportunity,
provisions for housing, basic amenities, and other means of sustenance. These provision
forms essential componenent for the social security. This paper is an attempt to weave the
existing legal provisions, at international, regional and national level and suggest a regime
for uniform and effective law to meet the constitutional obligation of conferring the migrant
workers and their family's right to live with human dignity. This paper while formulating
the social security standard for the migrant workers examines the instruments at the
international level. Most of the migrant labourers are employed in the unorganised sector,
where lack of regulation compounds their vulnerability. This paper surveys the Labour laws
such as minimum wages act, payment wages act, Contract labour act and host of other
labour legislations having benign effect in protection of rights of the migrant workers. The
article discusses in detail the provisions of Inter State Migrant Workman (Regulation and
Condition Service) Act,1979, dealing with the recruitment and employment of the migrant
workers. The paper points to the short comings in the laws and regulation concerning
conditions of the migrant worker's and their dependents. The paper examines thoroughly
the Unorganised Sector Workers Social Security Act, 2008 which is an attempt to address
the concerns of the Unorganised Worker's and their vulnerability including the migrant
worker's

Migration is a complex phenomenon involving the movement of person, group from one
place to another. This movement in terms of duration, destination and characteristics may
vary. The migration of the workers from rural to sub-urban, and from these places to the
urban area particularly the metropolitan city has seen steady rise. The migration affects
the equilibrium at the place of origin and destination in terms of employment opportunity,
provisions for housing, basic amenities, and other means of sustenance. These provision
forms essential component for the social security. The right to social security is basic
human right of an individual and essential for the society development and progress. The
issue of the right to the social security of the migrant is mandated in the fundamental and
inalienable constitutional right to freely move, reside, settle and practise any profession,
or to carry any trade in any part of the territory of India. This in general applies to the
migrants who leave the place of origin in search of jobs and includes skilled, unskilled,
and non-skilled workman.

1
India has shared the growth pattern with some of the fastest growing regions in Asia. The
country has witnessed around 8 percent growth in GDP in the last couple of years. India’s
urban population is increasing at a faster rate than its total population. Urbanisation has
been recognised as an important component of economic growth. At 28 percent, the pace
of urbanisation, however, has been slow and lower than the average for Asia. The
absolute number of people in urban cities and towns, however, has gone up substantially.
The researchers expect rate of urbanisation to also increase in the coming years. With
over 575 million people, India will have 41 percent of its population living in cities and
towns by 2030 from the present level of 286 million1.

Urban poverty in India remains high, at over 25 percent. Over 80 million poor people live
in the cities and towns of India.This is roughly equal to the population of Egypt. A large
number of states report poverty figures in urban areas much above that in rural areas. At
the national level, rural poverty is higher than poverty in urban areas but the gap between
the two has decreased over the last couple of decades. The incidence of decline of urban
poverty has not accelerated with GDP growth. As the urban population in the country is
growing, so is urban poverty2.Urban poverty poses the problems of housing, shelter,
water, sanitation, health, education, social security and livelihoods along with special
needs of vulnerable groups like women, children and aged people. 11.2 million of the
total slum population of the country is in Maharashtra followed by Andhra Pradesh (5.2
million), and Uttar Pradesh (4.4 million) .
Although the slum population has increased, the number of slums is lower3, which makes
them more dense. There is higher concentration of slum population in the large urban
centres. Poor people live in slums which are overcrowded, often polluted and lack basic
civic amenities like clean drinking water, sanitation and health facilities. Most of them
are involved in informal sector activities where there is constant threat of eviction,
removal, confiscation of goods and almost non-existent social security cover. A
substantial portion of the benefits provided by public agencies are cornered by middle
1
India-Urban Poverty Report (2009), Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation ;GOI with
Support of UNDP
2
id
3
National Sample Survey Organisation,58th round.

2
and upper income households. 54.71 percent of urban slums have no toilet facility. Most
free community toilets built by state government or local bodies are rendered unusable
because of the lack of maintenance4.

I. Urbanisation and Migration

The incidence of migration in India has shown an increase in 2001 as compared to


consistent decline during 1961-1991. The economic motive remains the main reason for
migration among male inter-state migrants. Economically backward states keep losing
people to developed states. Poverty incidence was found less among migrants as
compared to non-migrants but it was higher among rural to urban migrants. Middle and
higher income groups show higher propensity to move. The most successful group of
migrants is urban to urban migrants in terms of type of occupation they have and their
income levels due to better education and skills they possessed. Influx of migration
towards metropolitan cities indicates that economic reforms have not been able to create
much employment opportunities in small and medium towns and in rural areas5.

Urban poverty has also been affected strongly by employment and income trends in rural
area. The completely landless poor in rural areas have always been footloose migrants,
with a large component migrating seasonally to other rural areas and another stream
migrating to urban areas in search of work6. When level of economic activity is rising in
the rural economy as a whole, employment is growing and incomes are buoyant, we
would expect much less migration to the urban area to take place and thus better
prospects for urban poverty reduction. If employment opportunities and incomes are
growing faster in urban areas than rural ones, migration will also rise owning not to
distress but to the prospect of better conditions. Distress migration of labourers, petty
peasant producers and artisans, take place in a situation of rural depression when

4
id
5
Id.
6
Utsa Patnaiak, "Trends in Urban Poverty under Economic reforms: 1993-94 to 2004-2005."Ecomnomic
and Political Weekly, Jan.2010, Vol. XLV no. 4,at page 43

3
agriculture and other activity falls and such migration if large enough relative to urban
employment opportunities, will tend to add to the factors raising the urban poverty.7

The contribution of the primary sector to the GDP has declined rapidly and, more rapidly
than its share of workers and population, implying a decline in its worker production
relative to the other sectors. The real income generated from the primary sector per head
of total population has virtually stagnated between Rs. 4,000-5,000 using implicit GDP
deflators. The food grain output growth rate has decelerated far below the population
growth rate even after factoring in the 233million tonne harvest in 2007-2008. In such a
situation distress migration in the urban area will increase resulting in increase in urban
poverty.8
II. Migration and its various causes

Given the diversity in the nature of migration in India, the causes are also bound to vary.
Migration is influenced both by the pattern of development and the social structure. The
National Commission on Rural Labour, focusing on seasonal migration, concluded that
uneven development was the main cause of seasonal migration. Along with inter regional
disparity, disparity between different socioeconomic classes and the development policy
adopted since independence has accelerated the process of seasonal migration. In tribal
area, intrusion by outsiders, the pattern of settlement, displacement and deforestation,
have played a significant role. Most migration literature makes a distinction between
‘pull’ and ‘push’ factors, which, however, do not operate in isolation of one another.
Mobility occurs when workers in source areas lack suitable options for
employment/livelihood, and there is some expectation of improvement in circumstances
through migration. The improvement sought may be better employment or higher
wages/incomes, but also maximisation of family employment or smoothing of
employment/income/consumption over the year9.

7
id
8
id
9
Ravi S. Srivastava, “Bonded Labour in India; its Incidence and Pattern.” Special Action Programme to Combat
Forced Labour, Declaration/WP/43/2003

4
The growth of intensive agriculture and commercialisation of agriculture since the
late1960s has led to peak periods of labour demand, often also coinciding with a decline
in local labour deployment. In the case of labour flows to the rice producing belt of West
Bengal, wage differentials between the source and destination have been considered as
the main reason for migration. Moreover, absence of non-farm employment, low
agricultural production has resulted in a growth of seasonal migration. Migration
decisions are influenced by both individual and household characteristics as well as the
social matrix, which is best captured in social-anthropological studies. Factors such as
age, education level, wealth, land owned, productivity and job opportunities influence the
participation of individuals and households in migration, but so do social attitudes and
supporting social networks. Where migration is essentially involuntary, it makes little
sense to use voluntaristic models to explain the phenomenon. In Dhule region
(Maharashtra) sugarcane cultivation leads to high demand for labour, but landowners
recruit labourers from other districts for harvesting as they can have effective control
over the labour. Local labourers are thus forced to migrate with their households to South
Gujarat10. In Kerala, trawler-fishing has depleted marine resources. With unemployment
in other industries like cashew and rubber, this has led to large scale outmigration of
girls11.

III. Migrants and Condition of Work

Migrants at the lower end of the market comprise mostly unskilled casual labourers or
those who own or hire small means of livelihood such as carts or rickshaws and are self-
employed. Migrant labourers are exposed to large uncertainties in the potential job
market. To begin with, they have little knowledge of the market and risk high job search
costs. The perceived risks and costs tend to be higher the further they are from home.
There are several ways in which migrants minimise risks and costs. For a number of
industries, recruitment is often done through middlemen. In many cases, these middlemen

10
R. Teerink , migration and its impact on Khandesi Women in Sugar Cane Harvest. In; Indo-Dutch
Series on Development Alternatives 16, New Delhi. Sage Publication(1995)
11
K. Sardamoni, Crisis in the fishing industry and women's migration; In Indo- Dutch Series on
Development Alternatives 16. New Delhi; Sage Publication

5
are known to the job seekers and may belong to the source area. In other cases, migrants
move to the destination areas of their own12.
The movement of migrants in groups, often sharing kinship ties, also provides some
protection in the context of the harsh environment in which migrants travel, seek jobs and
work. In West Bengal, labourers are sometimes recruited at bus stands or employers often
go to the source area and recruit labourers. Contractors, who often belong to same caste
and community, are the other medium for recruitment in the agricultural and rural sectors
(agricultural workers in Punjab, coffee plantations in Karnataka, sugarcane plantations in
Gujarat, quarry workers around Delhi). In parts of Punjab, agents or traders are also
active in recruitment. Labourers are hired by contractors in their village, or by their
relatives and friends who have already migrated. In the urban informal sector, friends and
relatives act as a network and the job market is highly segmented based around people of
the same caste, religion and kinship13. Social networks provide initial income support,
information, accommodation, and access to jobs. However, parts of the urban
unorganised sector may also be characterised by a high degree of organised migration, as
in the rural areas discussed above14.

IV. Migrants and Social Security

Poorer migrant workers, crowded into the lower ends of the labour market, have few
entitlements vis a vis their employers or the public authorities in the destination areas.
They have meagre personal assets and suffer a range of deprivations in the destination
areas. In the source areas, migration has both negative and positive consequences for
migrants and their families. Migrant labourers, whether agricultural or non-agricultural,
live in deplorable conditions. There is no provision of safe drinking water or hygienic
sanitation. Labourers working in harsh circumstances and living in unhygienic conditions
suffer from serious occupational health problems and are vulnerable to disease. Those
working in quarries, construction sites and mines suffer from various health hazards,

12
Ravi S. Srivastava, Supra 4.
13
A. Mitra and Gupta, " Rural Migrant and Labour Segmentation: Micro level Evidence from Delhi
Slums." Economic and Political Weekely, pp. 163-8.
14
D.Mazumdar, '' Segmented Labour Market in LDCS." American Economic Review,73(2),pp.254-59

6
mostly lung diseases. As the employer does not follow safety measures, accidents are
quite frequent15.
Migrants cannot access various health and family care programmes due to their
temporary status. Free Public health care facilities and programmes are not accessible to
them. For women workers, there is no provision of maternity leave, forcing them to
resume work almost immediately after childbirth. Workers, particularly those working in
tile factories and brick kilns suffer from occupational health hazards such as body ache,
sunstroke and skin irritation16. As there are no crèche facilities, children often accompany
their families to the workplace to be exposed to health hazards. They are also deprived of
education, the schooling system at home does not take into account their migration
pattern and their temporary status in the destination areas does not make them eligible for
schooling17.These issues form component part of the social security.

V. Social Security
The right to social security is basic and inalienable human right essential for human being
to lead a dignified life. This has been envisioned by the constitution maker in the object
statement of the Constitution, fundamental rights, Directive principle of state policy and
the conventions and covenants we have accepted as members of the inter-governmental
organisations.
A. Social Security and International Standard

The specific term the "Social Security" finds its place in the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights, 1948.18 It states that:

Everyone, as a member of society has the right of social security and is entitled to
the realisation, through national effort and international co-operation and in
accordance with the organisation and resource of the state, of each state, of

15
Ravi,S.Srivastava, Supra4
16
Ministry of Labour (1991), Report of the National Commission on Rural Labour (NCRL Report), New
Delhi; Govt. of India.
17
id.
18
Article 22, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948.

7
economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and free
development of the personality.
Yet another provision of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights19 enriches the
content and meaning of the Social Security. This Article state as follow;

i. Everyone has right to the standard of living adequate for the health and well-
being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, and housing and
medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in event of
unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of
livelihood circumstances beyond his control.
ii. Motherhood and Childhood are entitled for special care and assistance. All
children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection
This approach therefore does not make a distinction between contributory and non-
contributory social security benefits or to the devise step of charity law and concepts of
deserving and non-deserving20 entitlement .The International instrument concerned with
the Social Security are;
a) The International Covenant on the Economic, Social and Cultural right
(ICESCR):The ICESCR in one of the provision21 adopts the term social security
and states that;
The state parties to the present Covenant recognise the right of everyone to social
security, including social insurance.
Art. 10(2) further recognises the right of working mothers to "adequate social security
benefits" and the Art.10 (3) requires that states undertake special measures of protection
and assistance for children and young people. The right to social security is clearly
encompassed within Art.11 (1), which states as;
The state parties to the present covenant recognises the right of everyone to on
adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food,
clothing, and housing, and to the continuous improvement of the living
conditions. The State Parties will take appropriate steps to ensure the realisation
19
Art.25, Universal Declaration of Human Rights,1948
20
Dr. Paderic Kenna, " International Standards and Mechanisms on the Right to Social Security.",Law
Faculty , National University of Galway
21
Art.9 of ICESCR

8
of this right, recognising to this effect the essential importance of the
international co-operation based on the free consent.
Although the text of the ICESCR is quite brief regarding the right to the social security
and it was not elaborated in the specific manner, the reporting guidelines laid the special
emphasis on the list of the specific branches of the Social Security guaranteed under the
ILO Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention of 1952(ILO No.102).22The state
parties have to respect, promote and fulfil the obligations set out in the covenant, and
these obligations as elaborated in the Limburg Principles,23have greater weight.

b) International Labour Organisation


The another specialised agency of the UN the ILO Social Security (minimum standards)
Convention1952 addresses to social security through the integral component of the right
developed by the ILO, such as, medical care, sickness benefit, unemployment benefit,
old-age benefit. In addition to it the family, maternity and family benefits are important.
Besides invalidity benefit forms part of the scheme of ILO.

B. Social Security and National Standard.

The preamble of the constitution of India recognises the individual as the building block
of the institution whose dignity and integrity can be protected by bestowing upon him the
economic, social and political justice. The state has been described as the democratic and
the socialistic state. A democratic state is a state that is based on the concept of equality
and accountability. A socialist state is one that accepts the responsibility for providing
and ensuring 'Social Security' to its entire citizen without discrimination24.

a) Social security and Constitutional Provisions

22
In May,2006 the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (UNCESCR) considered a
Draft General Comment No.20 on the Rights of Social Security.
23
UN Document E/CN.4/1987/1
24
Report of the Second National Labour Commission, Chapter-VIII, Para8.9

9
The fundamental Rights that our constitution guarantees to every citizen include the right
to life, and as the Supreme Court have pointed out, that the right to livelihood is inherent
in the right to life. The ultimate objet of the social security is to ensure that everyone has
the means of livelihood. It follows that that the right to the social security is also inherent
in the right to life25. As per the apex court, India is constitutionally a socialistic state. The
principle aim of socialism is to eliminate inequity of the income and status and to provide
a decent standard of living for the working people.26

b) Directive Principle of State policy

The DPSP under the provision27states that the state shall strive to promote the welfare of the
people by securing and protecting, as effectively as it may, a social order in which justice, social,
economic and political, shall inform all the institution of the national life. The State shall , in
particular strive to minimise inequities in income, and endeavour to eliminate inequities in the
status , facilities and opportunities not only amongst groups of people residing in different areas
or engaged in different vocation.

(ii). The state shall, in particular, direct its policy towards securing ;
a) that the citizens, men and women equally , have an adequate means to livelihood .
b) that the health and strength of workers, men and women and tender age of children are
not abused and that citizens are not forced by the economic necessity , to enter into an
avocations unsuited to their age.
c) that children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner in
conditions of freedom and dignity and that childhood and youth are protected against
exploitation and against moral and material abandonment.
(iii) The state shall make within the limits of its economic capacity and development
effective provision for securing the right to work, to education and to public
assistance in case unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement and in other
cases of undeserved want.28
The state shall endeavour to secure by suitable legislation or economic organisation or any other
way to all worker’s, agricultural, industrial or otherwise , work, a living wage , condition of work
25
id.
26
id.
27
Art.38 of the Constitution of India
28
Art.41 of the Indian Constitution.

10
ensuring a decent standard of life and full enjoyment of leisure and social and cultural
opportunities29. Therefore the Indian constitution visualises a regime of social security for citizen
of India in general and the workforce in particular.

c) Legal Regulation of Social Security and Welfare of Migrants

The Indian Constitution contains basic provisions relating to the conditions of


employment, non-discrimination, right to work etc. India is also a member of the ILO and
has ratified many of the ILO conventions. These provisions and commitments, along with
pressure from workers’ organisations, have found expression in labour laws and policies.
Migrant labourers face additional problems and constraints as they are both labourers and
migrants. Many of the problems faced by migrant labourers are covered by laws and
policies in as much as they cover all labourers in a particular sector or industry. These
laws include the Minimum Wages Act, 1948; the Contract Labour (Regulation and
Abolition) Act, 1970; the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976; the Building and Other
Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service), Act,
1996; the Workmen’s Compensation Act 1923; the Payment of Wages Act 1936; the
Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act,1986; the Bonded Labour Act, 1976; the
Employees State Insurance Act, 1952; the Employees Provident Fund Act, 1952; and the
Maternity Benefit Act, 1961.

i. Interstate Migrant workman (Regulation and Condition of Services) Act,


1979

The last three Acts cover only organised sector workers and thus preclude temporary
migrants. In addition to the above laws, Parliament passed the Inter State Migrant
workmen (Regulation and Conditions of Service) Act 1979 specifically to deal with
malpractices associated with the recruitment and employment of workers who migrate
across state boundaries. The Act followed the recommendations of a committee set up by
the Labour Minister's Conference in 1976. The Act covers only interstate migrants

29
Art.43 of the Indian Constitution.

11
recruited through contractors or middlemen and those establishments that employ five or
more such workers on any given day. Under the Act;
• Contractors and establishments are required to be licensed and registered by a notified
registering authority.
• The contractor is required to issue a passbook to every worker, giving details about the
worker, including payments and advances, and pay each worker a displacement
allowance and a journey allowance.
• Contractors must pay timely wages equal to or higher than the minimum wage; provide
suitable residential accommodation, prescribed medical facilities and protective clothing;
and notify accidents and casualties to specified authorities and kin.

The Act lays down machinery to resolve industrial disputes and provides for migrant
workers to approach the authorities in destination states or in their home states if they
have already returned home. The Act sets penalties including imprisonment for non-
compliance, but provides an escape route to principal employers if they can show that the
transgressions were committed without their knowledge. Labour laws aiming to protect
migrant workers have remained largely on paper. In the case of the 1979 Act, few
contractors have taken licences and very few enterprises employing interstate migrant
Workers have registered under the Act. The record of prosecutions and dispute settlement
has been very weak. Migrant workers do not possess pass books, prescribed by law, and
forming the basic record of their identity and their transactions with the contractor and
employers30
A study conducted on the status of migrant workers in the Punjab by the Centre for
Education and Communication (CEC) pointed out gross violations of the Child Labour
(Prohibition & Regulation Act 1986), the Minimum Wages Act (1948), the Contract
Labour Act (1970), the Inter State Migrant Workmen Act, 1979 and the Equal
Remuneration Act (1976). The violation of these laws was found to be most rampant in
the case of brick kilns. Different kinds of harassment were meted out to migrant workers
by the police, postal department, and owners of the establishments, owners of workers’
dwellings, shopkeepers, labour contractors and the railway police during their journey.

30
Supra15, NCRL (1991)

12
Migrant labour is recruited from various parts of a particular state through contractors or
agents for work outside that state in large construction and other projects. This system
lends itself to abuses working hours are not fixed and workers have to work under
extremely harsh conditions31.Most migrant labourers are also employed in the
unorganised sector, where the lack of regulation compounds their vulnerability.

ii. Migrant worker and unorganised Labourer

The term ‘unorganized labour’ has been defined as those workers who have not been able
to organize themselves in pursuit of their common interests due to certain constraints,
such as casual nature of employment, ignorance and illiteracy, small and scattered size of
establishments, etc. As per the survey carried out by the National Sample Survey
Organization in the year 2004-05, the total employment in both organized and
unorganized sector in the country was of the order of 45.9 crore. Out of this, about 2.6
crore were in the organized sector and the balance 4.3. crore in the unorganized sector.
Out of 43.3 crore workers in the unorganized sector, 26.9 crore workers were employed
in agriculture sector, 2.6 crore in construction, and remaining were in manufacturing
activities, trade and transport, communication & services. A large number of unorganized
workers are home based and are engaged in occupations such as beedi rolling, agarbatti
making, papad making, tailoring, and embroidery work32.

The unorganised sector workers suffer from cycles of excessive seasonality of


employment, lack of a formal employer-employee relationship and absence of social
security protection. Several legislations such as the Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923;
the Minimum Wages Act, 1948; the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961; the Contract Labour
(Abolition and Prohibition) Act, 1970; Building and Other Construction Workers
(Regulation of Employment & Conditions of Service) Act, 1996; and the Building and
Other Construction Workers Welfare (Cess) Act, 1996 etc. are directly or indirectly
applicable to the workers in the unorganized sector also. The Ministry of Labour is also
operating Welfare Funds for some specific categories of workers in the unorganized
31
http://www.labourfile.org/cec1/cec.visited
32
Annual report 2008-9, Ministry of Labour and Employment, GOI

13
sector like beedi workers, cine workers and certain non-coal mine workers. The funds are
used to provide various kinds of welfare activities to the workers in the field , housing,
education assistance for children, water supply etc. The Government has launched Group
Insurance Schemes, such as the Janshree Bima Yojana for people living below or
marginally above the poverty line and Aam Aadmi Bima Yojana for landless rural
households which also include workers in the unorganized sector. There are some
employment oriented schemes like Swarnjayanti Gram Swarojgar Yojana, Pradhanmantri
Gram Sadak Yojana, Sampoorna Gramin Rojgar Yojana, National Rural Employment
Guarantee scheme etc. which are benefiting unorganized sector workers.

Following the recommendations of the Second National Commission of Labour (NCL,


2002), the central government has mooted a draft law, the Unorganised Sector Workers
Bill, 2003 in order to identify workers employed in the unorganised sector and to provide
them with basic social security. The Bill builds upon the experience of tri-partite welfare
funds already in existence for a few industries in some states. Key Provisions of the
proposed Act include:
• The scope of the Act will extend to all workers in the unorganised sector, whether
directly or through an agency or contractor, whether for one or several employers and
whether a casual or temporary worker, a migrant worker, or a home based worker (self-
employed or employed for wages).
• Central and state governments shall constitute and ‘Unorganised Sector Workers
Central Board’ and similar state boards for the administration and coordination of the Act
at central and state levels.
• The boards shall set up ‘Workers Facilitation Centres’ for the registration of workers;
issue of social security numbers and identity cards; mobilisation of workers to become
members of the Welfare Fund; assistance in dispute resolution and in the conduct of
inspections.
• Concerned governments could notify welfare schemes for any class of employment
under the Act and establish a Fund for this purpose. It could also regulate the conditions
of employment.

14
• The Welfare Fund will receive contributions from the government, employers and
workers. Workers will have to make regular contribution to the Fund until the age of 60.
• All workers, including self-employed or home based will be eligible for registration.
• Lok Shramik Panchayats shall be formed for dispute resolution in the unorganised
sector.
• The government will appoint persons known as Shramik Samrakshak to carry out
inspections and check on the compliance of the Act.

iii. The Unorganised Worker’s Social Security Act, 2008

Formulation of the 2003 bill found its place in the Unorganized Sector Workers Social
Security Act 2008.The salient features of the Bill are as under: Section 2 provides for the
definitions, including those relating to unorganized worker, self-employed and wage
worker.

i. Section 3 (1) provides for formulation of schemes by the Central Government for
different sections of unorganized workers on matters relating to (a) life and
disability cover ;(b) health and maternity benefits; (c) old age protection (d) any
other benefit as may be determined by the Central Government.
ii. Section 3 (4) provides formulation of schemes relating to provident fund,
employment injury benefits, housing, educational schemes for children, skill up
gradation, funeral assistance and old age homes by the State Governments.

iii. Section 5 envisages constitution of National Social Security Board under the
chairmanship of Union Minister for Labour & Employment with Member
Secretary and 34 nominated members representing Members of Parliament,
unorganised workers, employers of unorganised workers, civil society, Central
Ministries and State Governments. Provision for adequate representation of
persons belonging to the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes, the Minorities
and Women. The National Board would recommend the Central Government
suitable schemes for different sections of unorganised workers; monitor
implementation of schemes and advise, the Central Government on matters
arising out of the administration of the Act.

15
iv. Section 6 has provision for constitution of similar Boards at the State level.
v. Section 7 relates to funding pattern of the schemes formulated by the State
Governments.
vi. Section 8 prescribes record keeping functions by the District Administration. For
this purpose, the State Government may direct (a) the District Panchayat in rural
areas; and (b) the Urban Local Bodies in urban areas to perform such functions.
vii. Section 9 provides for setting up of Workers’ Facilitation Centre to (a)
disseminate information on social security schemes available to them (ii) facilitate
registration of workers by the district administration and enrollment of
unorganised workers.
viii. Section 10 provides for eligibility criteria for registration as also the procedure for
registration under the Act. Sections 11-17, contain miscellaneous provisions for
implementing the Act. Apart from the above, a Health Insurance Scheme namely, the
‘Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana’ for BPL families (a unit of five) in Unorganised
Sector was formally launched on 1st October, 2007. The scheme became operational from
1st April, 2008 and benefit under scheme started accruing to the beneficiaries. The
benefits under the scheme include:
(i) Smart card based cashless health insurance cover of Rs. 30,000 to a BPL family
of five. ii) All pre-existing diseases to be covered. (iii) Hospitalization expenses, asking
care of the most of the illness. (iv) Transportation cost of Rs. 100 per visit with an overall
limit of Rs. 1000 per annum Top of Form.

VI. CONCLUSION AND SUGGESTION

Migration of the workers towards the urban India is both the distress migration and
prospective in nature. The migration among unskilled and the vulnerable group of
society is predominantly the stress migration. Urbanization and migration are the
are the interplay of the economic development. The Lopsided and the uneven
development and concentration urban and metropolitan development has propelled
the string of migration to urban India raising the issue of employment, health and

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hygiene and social security measure. The poor and vulnerable migrant is the victim
of the vicious cycle of the indeptness, bonded labour and has to remain at the mercy
of the middleman and thekedar. This is an unending process .The Government
efforts to tackle the menace of migration trough special legislation such as Interstate
Migrant workman (Regulation and Condition of Services) Act, 1979 has not yielded
desired result and its further attempt to cover all the unorganised labour under
umbrella legislation of the Unorganised Worker’s Social Security Act, 2008 is a
retrograde step as region specific, industry specific and group specific solution to
the migrant or unorganised worker would have yielded the desired result.

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