Author: Arjun Sengupta
Contributor(s)/Artis: K P Kannan/R S Srivastava/V K Malhotra/ et al
Publisher: Academic Foundation
ISBN/UPC (if available): 9788171886787
This Report is focused on the informal or the unorganised sector of the economy, which accounts for an overwhelming proportion of the poor and vulnerable population in an otherwise shining India. It concentrates on a detailed analysis of the conditions of work and lives of the unorganised workers consisting of about 92 per cent of the total workforce of about 457 million.
One of the major highlights of this Report is the quantification of unorganised or informal workers, defined as those who do not have employment security, work security and social security. These workers are engaged not only in the unorganised sector but in the organised sector as well. The picture that the Report presents is based on the latest available set of data from the Sixty-first Round of the National Sample Survey in 2004-05. This has been supplemented with data from other sources.
In the Report, the Commission notes that the situation calls for immediate steps to ensure minimum conditions of work for the unorganised workers as well as measures for their livelihood promotion. The Commission has, therefore, proposed two comprehensive Bills for unorganised agricultural and non-agricultural workers. It has, further, proposed a number of measures to improve the livelihood of unorganised sector workers.
On the basis of its detailed assessment, the Commission has recommended a 13 Point Action Programme. The Commission believes that these measures are within the administrative and fiscal capacity of the Government, and if implemented within a short period of time, will have a significant impact on the lives of the working poor.
This publication also includes a CD-ROM comprising three earlier reports of the commission for Unorganised Sector, namely :
1. Social Security for Unorganised Workers .
2. National Policy on Urban Street Vendors .
3. Comprehensive Legislation for Minimum Conditions of Work and Social Security for the Unorganised Workers .
FROM THE PREFACE
The constitution of this National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector in September 20, 2004, was one of the first steps taken by the UPA Government, in pursuance of its Common Minimum Programme that committed itself “to ensure the welfare and well-being of all workers, particularly those in the unorganized sector who constitute 93 percent of our workforce”. Although the Indian economy experienced a reasonably high growth rate till then, this was not seen as inclusive enough by the majority of the population. The policies pursued by the new Government made “inclusive growth” as its central plank.
It is in this background that the Commission has examined the conditions of work as well as livelihood issues of the unorganized workers, who form the overwhelming proportion of all the Indian workforce. The picture that it has presented is based on the latest available set of data from the Sixty-first Round of the National Sample Survey in 2004-05. This has been supplemented with data from other sources such as the Special Survey of Farmers carried out by the NSS in 2003.
One of the major, highlights of this Report is the existence and qualification of unorganized or informal workers, defined as those who do not have employed security, work security and social security. These workers are engaged not only in the organized sector but in the organized sector as well. This universe of informal workers now constitutes 92 percent of the total workforce. We have also highlighted, based on an empirical measurement, the high congruence between this segment of the workforce and 77 percent of the population with a per capita daily consumption of up to Rs. 20 (in 2004-05) whom we have called “Poor and Vulnerable” . The number of persons belonging to this group increased from 811 million in 1999-00 to 836 million in 2004-05.
On the employment front, the low rate of growth during 1993-94 and 1999-00 gave way to a higher growth rate of employment during 1999-00 to 2004-05. But the additional employment created during this period was entirely informal, whether in the unorganized or organized sector.
The Commission has carried out a detailed analysis of the various dimensions of the challenge confronting the informal or unorganized workers. They work as so called self employed or wage workers, sometimes located in their homes but mostly outside. Some are lucky to have some kind of regular work but majority of wage workers are employed on a casual basis. Most get wages that are too low to enable them to come out of their poverty, not to speak of overcoming their vulnerability. Discrimination is the norm when it comes to women, children, bonded or migrant workers. Such positions of disadvantage are often reinforced by one’s social identity, rural location and, above all, low or no education.
The situation calls for immediate steps to ensure minimum conditions of work for the unorganized workers as well as measures for livelihood promotion. The Commission has, therefore, proposed two comprehensive Bills for unorganized agricultural and non-agricultural workers to ensure minimum conditions of work as well as a minimum level of social security. It has, further, proposed a number of measures to improve the livelihood of unorganized sector workers.
The Commission is aware that there have been concerted efforts by the Government during the last three years to address some of the constraints and problems faced by the poor households in general and workers in the unorganized sector in particular. The enactment of National Rural Employment Guarantee for rural households is, in our view, a historic move. The launching of the National Rural Health Mission is another important milestone. The schemes and projects under the Bharat Nirman address some of the critical constraints in infrastructure faced by rural India and, by implication, the poorer segments of the population whose livelihood opportunities are, by and large, in the unorganized sectors of the economy. The latest decision to strengthen the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan to address the problems in school education and to increase the allocation to the educational sector is a much needed foundational initiative.
Formidable social and administrative challenges do exist in ensuring the effective implementation of these initiatives. There is also the scope for adopting a new agenda strengthening existing initiatives as well as taking new initiatives which will give a sharper focus on the poor and vulnerable who constitute the majority of the informal or unorganized workers.
On the basis of its detailed assessment, the Commission has recommended a 13 Point Action Programme that will, in our view, not only provide a minimum standard for conditions of work and social security but also provide a modicum of livelihood opportunities to the 92 percent of the unorganized workers in this country. We believe that these measures are within the administrative and fiscal capacity of the Government, and if implemented within a short period of time, will have a significant impact on the lives of the working poor.
The journey is long and hard. But we are confident that the inherent dynamism of India’s democracy will be able to negotiate it successfully, building on the ongoing reform process and the high rate of economic growth.
India's Informal Economy
Constitution of a National Commission for the Unorganised Sector
Conceptualising the Unorganised Economy: Sector Vs Workers
Size and Relationships
Homeworkers as a Distinct Cataegory
Poverty, Vulnerability and Informal Work Status: the High Congruence
Rationale for a Social Floor
An Agenda for Livelihood Promotion
The Need for Ensuring Minimum Conditions of Work
Role of the State and Other Institutions
Procedure Followed in the Preparation of the Report
Framework of the Report
Unorganised Non-agricultural Workers: Socio-economic Profile
Physical and Human Capital
Labour Market Entry
Incidence of Poverty
Wage Workers in Non-agricultural Sector
Profile of Wage Workers
Physical Conditions at Work Place
Occupational Hazards, Health Conditions and Safety Measures
Hours of Work, Duration of Work Day and Weekly Holidays
Wages and Earnings of Workers in the Unorganised Sector
Self-employed Workers in Non-agriculture
Two Types of Enterprises
Own Account Enterprises
Constraints faced by Own Account Enterprises
Self employed in Establishments with Hired Workers
Constraints faced by Establishments
Homeworkers as a Special Category
Conditions of Work of Self-employed Workers
Textile Industry: Case of Handloom Sector
The Food Processing Industry
Petty Trade in India: Street Vendors/ Hawkers
Non-Mechanized Land Transport: Rickshaw Pullers
Conditions of Work and Constraints of Homeworkers
Women Workers in Non-agriculture
Conceptualizing Women's Work
Nature of Work Participation of Women
Conditions of Women's Work
Number of Women Workers in Non-agriculture
Casual and Regular Women Workers
Women Self-employed Workers
Conditions of Homeworkers
Girl Child Workers
Other Disadvantaged Workers: Migrants, Child and Bonded Labourers
7. Agricultural Workers: Socio-economic Profile
Size and Nature of Agricultural Workforce in India
Socio-Economic Profile of Agricultural Labourers
Socio-economic Profile of Farmers
8. Agricultural Labourers
Pattern of Employment
Unemployment and Underemployment
Health and Occupational Hazards
Gender Dimension of Agricultural Work
9. Working Conditions of Farmers
Credit and Indebtedness
Irrigation and Input Use
The Tenancy Issue
10. International Experience of Regulation of Minimum Conditions of Work
United Nations Framework of Rights
The ILO Framework
International experience in adhering to Minimum Conditions of Work
Globalisation and 'New' Regulatory Environment
11. Regulations of Conditions of Unorganised Workers in India
The Constitutional Framework
Ratification of International Conventions
Legal Regulation of Conditions of Work
Central Laws for Unorganised Sector Workers
Laws Which Apply to All Sections of Unorganised Sector
Laws Which Apply to some Sections of the Unorganised Sector Labour
Laws, Extendable to the Unorganised Sector
Laws Relating to Agricultural Workers
Organisational Structure for Implementation of Labour Laws
Experience of Implementation of Laws for the Unorganised Sector
Constraints on Effective Implementation
Scope for Self-Certification
Voluntary Codes of Conduct for Minimum Conditions of Work
12. Towards Protection and Promotion of Livelihoods of Unorganised Workers
Creating the Foundations of Decent Work
Dealing with the Negatives: Impact of Certain Laws and Regulation on Livelihoods
Promotional Policies for Non-agricultural Unorganised Sector
Policy Initiatives, Programmes and Schemes for Agricultural Workers
Promotional Measures for Expansion of Employment
Institutional Support for Protection and Promotion of Livelihoods
13. Recommendations on Legislative Protection for Minimum Conditions of Work and Comprehensive Legislation
A Review of the Principal Recommendations of the Earlier Commissions
Comprehensive Legislation: Earlier Views
Comprehensive Legislations for Agricultural and Non-agricultural Workers
Need for Separate Bills
Main Recommendations Relating to Conditions of Work
14 An Action Programme for the Unorganised Sector
A. Protective Measures for Unorganised Workers
B. A Package of Measures for the Marginal and Small farmers
C. Measures to Improve Growth of the Non-agricultural Sector
D. Measures to Expand Employment and Improve Employability
Abbreviations and Acronyms