Expert panel seeks basic living wage after job loss

(This story originally appeared in on Jan 08, 2021)

NEW DELHI: A one-man expert commission on labour, led by former civil servant C V Ananda Bose has recommended setting up a Labour Authority of India as a nodal body, instituting a basic minimum social security for workers and a basic living wage to be paid in case of employment loss. It said India should set up registries for gathering robust data on both migrant workers and non-resident Indians if it is to formulate focused policies for their protection and care.

The one-member commission, set up under the labour ministry’s Central Advisory Contract Labour Board (CACLB) in May last year, tackled concerns regarding providing social security to India’s burgeoning unorganised sector, especially in the aftermath of the pandemic.

The commission noted that the unorganised sector is growing rapidly and that existing legal and protective frames have become inadequate to address their issues while the growing fiscal deficit scenario make it difficult for both the Centre and states to sustain existing social security measures. Bose also pitched for merger of the ministries of labour and employment with the department of industry under the ministry of commerce and industry for smoother coordination and better data-keeping.

CACLB chairman Surabhi Bhoom Rao said the report will be presented to labour minister Santosh Gangwar next week and also to Prime Minister Narendra Modi later. The commission, Rao said, will also engage with the labour ministry for further recommendations to strengthen the social security net for unorganised sector workers.

It also backed decentralisation of the process of labour registration systems at the Panchayat or urban local bodies level, and setting up a digital employment portal for the convenience of workers, along with a common IT architecture so that data can be collected and shared across the country. It also echoed recommendations made by a parliamentary panel that pushed for food security for India’s workers through a “divisible” and portable ration card that entitles every member of a family to have access to ration regardless of where he or she stays.

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