Describing it as a “weak cut and paste” job, RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) rejected Narendra Modi government's draft Code on Social Security while warning against altering provisions on health insurance and provident fund shaped by "none other than a great visionary" like B R Ambedkar.
In its comments to the Ministry of Labour and Employment on the Code, the BMS said the draft was “totally disappointing for the workers” and it was a “weak cut and paste of the existing eight social security laws with different threshold limits for different benefits”, which was contrary to the objectives of Codification.
The Code on Social Security seeks to amalgamate provisions of eight Acts, including The Employees‘ Compensation Act 1923, The Employees‘ State Insurance Act 1948, The Employees‘ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1952, The Maternity Benefit Act 1961 and The Payment of Gratuity Act 1972.
It complained that the draft Code was not universal like the Wage Code and it creates a class division of privileged “employees”, “workers” and unfortunate “wage workers” with different sets of benefits.
The BMS claimed that several provisions which were part of an earlier draft like creating social security cadre, assuring at least minimum wages and separate funds for gratuity were missing in the latest document. It had also demanded that the eligibility of gratuity should be reduced from five years to one year, as 80% of the workers engaged in organised sectors are contractual labourers.
"The government should understand that it is changing the main social security laws like ESI and EPF shaped by none other than a great visionary like Dr Ambedkar. It should not miss the historical role in shaping the destiny of the nation by its casual approach," it said.
The BMS felt that the intention of the whole exercise “gets tainted” in the proposal of opting out of Employees State Insurance (ESI) and shifting from Employees Pension Scheme to the National Pension Scheme. “There is no health insurance in the whole world which is comparable to ESI in terms of benefits and also running profitably without government assistance. Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) itself has come out with a study that EPS is more beneficial to the workers compared to NPS,” it said.
It also objected to inducting private players in implementing schemes and running ESI medical and hospitals.