Muhafiz: New social security scheme for unorganized sector workers

The State Government is set to launch a major welfare initiative for the workers in the unorganized sector to provide them institutionalized socio-economic security.

Under the scheme named “Muhafiz” (Guardian), around 3 lakh workers registered with Jammu and Kashmir Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board (JKBOCWWB), will be covered under accidental, life and disability insurance besides providing educational scholarships to their children. The scheme also envisages extending micro credit facility to such workers and facilitating their registration through online and other modes.

Conceptualized by the Minister for Finance, Labour& Employment, DrHaseebDrabu, the wide-ranging social security scheme would be formally launched by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and Deputy Chief Minister DrNirmal Singh here on 8 January.

According to DrHaseebDrabu, under the scheme, JKBOCWWB will cover more than 3 lakh registered workers under accidental, life and disability insurance for which the premium @ Rs 171/annum/BOC Worker will be borne by the Board. He said the total premium involved for these workers in the first instance would be about Rs 5 crore.

The Finance Minister said that the Board will also provide educational scholarships to the wards of the Building & Other Construction workers under “Muhafiz”.

He said the JKBOCWWB will be also commencing Micro Credit facility for the registered workers with a credit limit of Rs 10000 and the amount involved for the counter guarantee to be deposited by the Board with the J&K Bank would be about Rs 30 crore.

Ironically since its inception in 2007, JKBOCWWB had done nothing substantial for the welfare of the workers in the unorganized sector and it was only during the past three years that financial assistance to the tune of around Rs 275 crore was provided to such workers under various components including Education Assistance, Marriage Assistance, Chronic Diseases, Maternity Benefit, Medical Assistance, Funeral Assistance and Death Assistance covering 3.40 lakh beneficiaries.

According to DrHaseebDrabu, the resources for the socio-economic welfare of the workers are generated through a cess levied under the Building and Other Construction Workers (RE&CS) Cess Act and from a meagre amount of Rs 26.8 crore in 2008-09; JKBOCWWB has around Rs 600 crore in its kitty today.

He said the Government is contemplating some more measures to ensure socio-economic security of the workers in the State’s unorganized sector and facilitate them and their children to have adequate financial security.

He said the unorganized sector covers most of the rural labour and a substantial part of urban labour. “In this sector wage-paid labour is largely non-unionized due to casual and seasonal nature of employment and scattered location of enterprises,” he said and added this sector is marked by low income, unstable and irregular employment, and lack of protection either from legislation or trade unions. 

DrDrabu stressed the need for launching massive awareness campaigns to sensitize people about the schemes launched by the Government for uplift of the workers in the unorganized sector.

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