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Govt of India labour reforms would make unorganized workers "more vulnerable"

By Manohar Chauhan
A senior women's rights leader, Parilata Mohapatra of the Swarozgari Mahila Sangh, Odisha, has expressed concern that though 94% of the domestic workers in the state work in the un-orgainsed sector only 6% work in the organized sector, the Government of India (GoI) decision for coming up with new labour codes, repealing 44 labour laws, would make them even more vulnerable.
Addressing media in Bhubaneswar, called to seek incorporation of the un-organized workers' and transgenders' demands in political part manifestos during the upcoming Lok Sabha and assembly elections, Mohapatra said, the social security code brought brought in by the GoI wwould nullify whatever little protection they have been getting from the Welfare Board for the Un-organised Workers.
She demanded that all the domestic workers should be recognized as labourers, and registered under the Welfare Board of Un-organised Sector Workers of 2008 Act, even as seeking a separate welfare board for domestic workers, where they should be registered obligatorily.
They should have fixed working hours, paid minimum wages, have decent working conditions, viable social security system and a grievance redresses mechanism, she demanded, adding, they should be paid Rs 3000 as pension on reaching 60.
Manjula Manjari Mishra, general secretary of the Rajdhani Shramik Shangha, talking on various of issues of construction workers, said, the Building and Other Construction Workers' Welfare (BOCWW) Act was enacted by the GoI in 1996, but its rules were formed in Odisha in 2002. She regretted that the BOCWW Act began being implemented in the state in 2004 and the registration of the workers formally began only in 2009, causing delay of almost 13 years.
Mishra demanded full implementation of the Supreme Court judgment on construction workers, de-merger of the BOCWW Act from the proposed labour codes, which resulted in the stoppage of benefits to lakhs of construction workers across India, registration of all construction workers with the involvement of NGOs, collection of cess up to 3%, including from private sectors, inclusion of model schemes framed by the Directorate General Labour Welfare (DGLW) and provision of medical benefits through the Employees' State Insurance (ESI).
She also sought social audit of implementation of the BOCWW Act, special schemes for women informal workers under the Construction Workers' Welfare Board, enhancement of minimum wages of unskilled, skilled and highly skilled informal workers, a separate welfare board for informal workers engaged in seasonal Kendu leaf and Non-Timber Forest Produce (NTFP) collection etc.”
Aisa Behera, Rani Kinner and Madhuri Maa, members of the All-Odisha Kinner Mahasagha, appraising the media on the problems being faced by the transgender (TG) community in the state, demanded for wider publicity of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2016.
They also sought implementation of the National Legal Services Authority judgment, which recognised the TG right to have an independent and separate households, insisting they should be covered under all social security schemes, including homestead land, food security schemes and entitlements in both urban and rural areas. They also demanded a TG welfare board in the state, reservation for TG in both government and private jobs.
They further wanted the government to provide skill development trainings and loans for private business, regularization of gender specific education services, i.e., separate wards/beds for TG members in government and private hospitals in rural and urban spaces, free access to sex reassignment surgery in government and private hospitals, priority on incorporation of TG issues in academic syllabuses and inclusion of TG as one of the categories of gender in election nomination forms.
Talking on the rights of migrant workers of the state, leaders demanded complete abolition of the Dadan labour system in Odisha within five years and advocated for safe migration.
They also demanded constitution of a separate state welfare board for millions Odia inter-state informal migrant workers of Odisha, Odisha Prabasi Shramika Kalyan Board, a multipurpose skill centre to enhance the skill needs of informal and migrant workers in high migration prone districts of Odisha, and asked the government to draw a long-term plan to mitigate climate change-related distress migration of people in drought prone, hilly and coastal regions of the state.

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