Report of public hearing on Tamil Nadu Welfare Boards

A public hearing on the functioning of Tamil Nadu Welfare Boards organized by Unorganized Workers Federation on May 16,2012 made following recommendations after depositions by workers and representatives of unorganized sector workers including Construction workers, Domestic workers, Street vendors, workers in the Handloom sector, Stone Quarry, Basket weaving, Sanitary workers, members of the Narikuravar community who work on artistic items and beadwork, Pudiraivannar Occupational and Social groups. Download the complete report here.

Recommendations:

1. Since 92% of State’s workforce is in the Unorganised sector, Government must immediately formulate a comprehensive policy frame work for this sector that has diverse segments, in consultation with concerned stakeholders and experts and establish worker-friendly institutions and administer them in a honest and transparent manner.

2.a)As per the provisions of the T.N.Manual Workers Act 1982, employment and wage regulation, dispute resolution and social security should be implemented by the respective Welfare Boards.

b) A system of levy and a small contribution from workers should be collected in all Welfare Boards.

c) All Welfare Boards with registered women workers should form Complaints Committees on sexual harassment in every district.

3.a) The registration and claims of persons of the unorganized sector must be with the labour depts. Since registration and claims have been affected due to the inclusion of Revenue Department in the Welfare Board and the independent relevance of separate Welfare Boards has been lost due to the G.O.s 122,123 and 124 (2008),these G.O.s should be withdrawn.

b) All Unorganised sector workers, including migrant workers, should be registered with the respective Welfare Boards.

c) The benefits such as Accident relief, Assistance for Maternity, Natural death, Education and marriage, Pension etc., should be provided to the workers within a stipulated timeframe, in a seniority basis(within three months of application). The deponents stated that even replies were received after years and some were lost. Hence, there should be a grievance redressal mechanism in every Welfare Board to deal with delays, denials, unfair rejections and to render justice. There should be monthly meetings in DCL offices in every district with trade union representatives to make the system participatory.

4.a) ESI should be extended to all unorganized workers through the Welfare Boards so that they could avail medical, sickness, maternity assistance and accident relief.

b) Pension should be provided to all registered workers and the amount should correspond to fifteen days wages or 3000Rs.Maternity assistance should be ninety days of wages, based on minimum wages. Accident relief should be given to all victims of all types of accidents and not only to those who have more than 40% of disability.

c) Workers in construction, salt-pans etc., whose employment gets affected during monsoon, should be provided with contributory monsoon allowance as in the case of fish-workers.

d) Decent Housing should be provided to all unorganized workers and patta provided to hut dwellers and pucca houses with basic amenities, while all the pavement dwelling labourers in cities should be provided with shelters.

5.a) In Construction,, as per the Central Act, one percent cess should be collected from all, including Central Government construction, with arrears from 1995.

b) Provision of safety and amenities at work-site and protection of migrant labourers and their families from exploitation and harassment should be ensured.

c) The Policy on Migrant Child Labour has remained on paper and should be implemented in T.N.

6. In the context of ILO convention on domestic workers 2011 and Draft National Policy on domestic workers the Tamil Nadu Government should fix minimum wages and the Domestic Workers Welfare Board should take steps to implement the national policy in Tamil Nadu and form complaint committees on sexual harassment in every district as well as a Helpline.

7. The Street Vendors Welfare Board, apart from registration of vendors, must involve the local bodies and provide license, vending space, credit and shops to the registered vendors, on the basis of National Policy on Street Vendors.

8.a) The State and Central Govts should take immediate steps, to give Narikkuravas ST status.

b) A separate Welfare Board for Narikkuravas should be activated to ensure protection from police harassment and other forms of obstruction while Promotion of Education, Skill training and alternate livelihoods including fashioning Bead jewellery, (to hunting) should be undertaken through self-employment and cooperatives. Narikkuravas girl children should be given special attention in terms of education through KGVE.

c) The Railways must consider giving the Narikkuravas a special pass or identity proof so that they can sell their products without any hindrance or harassment in stations and trains.

9. Puthirai Vannar Welfare Board should be activated to ensure release from the traditional bondage through provision of land, milch animals and housing.

10. Bonded Labour in stone quarries, brick kilns, rice mills etc. should be identified and Release and Rehabilitation measures including Land, Housing, and other resources like quarries to pursue their traditional avocations in a co-operative manner provided through Welfare Boards. And those Bonded Labour released from other states and brought back to TN should be provided with Release certificates and Rehabilitation measures.

11. Sanitary workers who are employed on contractual basis should be regularized by the Civic bodies and paid equal pay for equal work and Manual Scavenging abolished.

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