GO forms Social Security Council for unorganized workers – Community News
Social Security

GO forms Social Security Council for unorganized workers

The government of Telangana has issued a JO which forms the Telangana State Social Security Board (TSSSB) for unorganized workers. It took a PIL and a long legal battle to force the state to create a mechanism to create a social security net for workers as part of the Unorganized Workers’ Social Security Act 2008.

“It is a welcome step, albeit delayed. But we are not happy with the composition of the board. There is no representation of women as referred to in the fourth paragraph of Article 6 of the Act. Domestic workers are not represented and female farm workers, who make up 57% of the workforce, are also ignored,” said Usha Seetha Lakshmi, an independent researcher and activist.

There is zero representation of women among the 28 members of the newly formed board. The board has representatives who are government officials, representatives of employers, workers’ unions, two MLAs and members of civil society. The board members include three builders, two rice mills, gas traders and a beedi manufacturer among the employer representatives.

“Gig workers and platform workers have been left out. Employees of companies like Ola, Uber, Swiggy, Zomato and Dunzo have been ignored, although they count about 1.8 lakh. What’s the point of the board if such a large proportion of the workforce is ignored?” asks Shaikh Saluddin of the Indian Federation of App-based Transport Workers (IFAT). The union has sent an email to Labor and Employment Minister Malla Reddy demanding that a representative from the gig workers union be included.

The 2008 law makes it mandatory to register employees and create a safety mechanism that can act in times of crisis like COVID, which has left millions of workers out of work.

“Had the board been assembled earlier and registered workers in the unorganized sector, the migrant crisis caused by the lockdown would have been better handled. The workers could have claimed benefits based on their registration,” said Anant Maringanti of Hyderabad Urban Labs, who was involved in mapping the migrant crisis as it unfolded.

Interestingly, the appointment of officials as registration authorities for the purpose of registering unorganized workers in the state was reported on March 16, two days before the PIL hearing that led to the creation of the TSSSB.