For construction workers | Using Rs 31,000-crore fund available in Building and other Construction Workers Fund (BOCW) to aid 3.5 crore construction workers during the coronavirus pandemic. (Image: PTI)
The Labour Ministry has decided to drop contentious clauses, including setting up of a National Social Security Council to bring EPFO and ESIC under its ambit, in the new draft of Social Security Code due to opposition from trade unions, said sources.
Central trade unions had opposed the clause to form a National Social Security Council headed by the prime minister that shall control and regulate all social security schemes to be implemented in the country.
"The new draft was discussed on Tuesday with trade unions in a tripartite meeting. The new draft has dropped the clause of forming National Security Council," the sources said.
The new draft provides for covering about 50 crore unorganised sector workers under the ambit of social security schemes run by various bodies in the country.
Central trade unions have been opposing the merger of retirement fund body Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) and state health insurer Employees' State Insurance Corporation under the draft Labour Code on Social Security and Welfare mooted by the government, saying the move will be against the interest of workers.
They had opposed the proposal of merger of Employees Provident & Miscellaneous Provisions Act and Employees State Insurance Corporation Act as EPF & EPS schemes and ESI scheme functioning under these two Acts saying that these have been rendering satisfactory service to their members for more than 60 years.
The unions had also opposed the proposal of handing over the operation of social security schemes to the state government under the old draft which is also dropped in new draft bill.
The existing 14 Acts on social security will be subsumed in the Code for Social Security and Welfare after its passage by Parliament.
The main concern of trade unions was the transfer of responsibility to provide the social security benefits from the centrally controlled social security organisations like EPF, EPS and ESI to the respective state boards under the old draft.
Commenting on this, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) said, "We welcome withdrawal of the Anti worker provisions in the previous drafts. The ESI and EPF merger- of both funds and staff will lead to cross subsidy and failure of existing system."
The BMS also said, "States running ESI hospitals is failure in many places. The Supreme Court had intervened when funds of Building Construction welfare scheme were diverted by states."
However, the union said,"The new draft cannot be called a code since it has left out a sizeable portion of workers. Provisions are not uniformly applicable to all workers. In the first two drafts BMS has suggested to give all the 14 (social security) benefits up to the last worker in the country.
That concept has been omitted in the new draft. Hence the Code has become purposeless. Hence it is neither comprehensive, nor revolutionary nor historical. The whole exercise has now become futile.