A seminar was conducted on 13.05.2008 at Yeddanapalli Hall, in Loyola College on comprehensive legislative protection for unorganized sector workers. The seminar organized by Unorganized Workers Federation focused on the Unorganized Sector Workers Social Security Bill that was introduced in Rajya Sabha last year and the aborted move by the State Government to transfer the functions of Labour Welfare Boards from Labour Department to Revenue Department.

Ms. Leelavathi, State Secretary of Unorganized Workers Federation welcomed the delegates to the seminar. The morning session on Unorganized Sector Workers Social Security Bill 2007 was chaired by Ms. T.S. Sankaran (Retd. I.A.S), Former Additional Labour Secretary in Central Government. Mr. Subhash Bhatnagar, Coordinator of National Campaign Committee for Unorganized Sector Workers New Delhi, Prof. Shanmuga Velayudham, Mr. Sema Narayanan, President of Tamilnadu Pottery Workers Welfare Board and other trade unions representatives shared their views on a comprehensive legislature for unorganized sector workers including regulation of employment – wage, dispute handling mechansism, E.S.I and sexual harassment committee.

The afternoon session focused on the need for administrative infrastructure, finance source mechanism, regulation of employment – wage to remove the existing bottlenecks in the effective implementation of Tamilnadu Manual Workers Act, 1982. , Mr. Kiran from Jeevika (Karnataka), Mr. Prakash from Nirman Mazdoor Panchayat Union (Karnataka), Mr. Eashwar from Nirman Mazdoor Panchayat Union (New Delhi), Mr. Raman, Member of Advisory Committee under Tamilnadu Manual Workers Act, Dr. Gabriella from National Alliance of Peoples Movements shared their views.

The following resolutions were passed in the seminar.

1. All trade unions in different districts will meet with and mobilize their Members of Parliaments to speak against the Unorganized Sector Workers Social Security Bill 2007 which includes already existing schemes such as pension etc and calls for implementation through District Administration without the participation of trade unions and does not include employment – wage regulation and to call for a comprehensive legislative protection for unorganized sector workers.

2. Demonstrations will be held on the first day of monsoon session of the Parliament in front of Governor’s house in different states demanding for changes in the proposed bill based on the report of Standing Committee, role for trade unions, appropriate fund source identification, administrative infrastructure setup, sectoral boards etc similar to the model bill that has been prepared by National Campaign Committee for Unorganized Sector Workers.

3. Government Order 23 dated 04.03.2008 which transfers the functions of Labour Welfare Boards under Tamilnadu Manual Workers Act 1982 from Labour Department to Revenue Department should be cancelled.

4. The representatives thanked all those trade unions, individuals, political parties and National Campaign Committee for Unorganized Sector Workers that have and continue to fight for the rights and welfare of Unorganized Sector Workers.

5. The representatives thanked the Hon’ble Chief Minister for announcing that Labour Welfare Boards will continue to function under Labour Department. It was decided that a petition will be submitted to Chief Minister to implement his promise of inviting the trade unions for discussion on this issue and to include independent trade unions and Unorganized Workers Federation in the proposed discussion.

6. The current representation in Advisory Committee under Tamilnadu Manual Workers Act should be changed with 50% representation for representatives of workers, adequate women members representation, inclusion of independent trade unions.

7. Street corner meetings and district level seminars will be held through out June to mobilize the workers and organize struggles on the functions of Unorganized Sector Labour Welfare Boards, need for adequate fund source from Central and State Government and levy collection, administrative infrastructure, taluk level labour offices, employment – wage regulation, sectoral boards under Tamilnadu Manual Workers Act.

Mr. I.P.Moorthy, State Treasurer of Unorganized Workers Federation thanked the delegates for their participation in the seminar.

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