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BMS terms 4th draft of social security code 'disappointing'


Press Trust of India New Delhi
Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) on Monday said it has rejected the latest draft social security code saying it is "totally disappointing" for workers in the country.
Recently, the Ministry of Labour and Employment circulated a draft of the social security code to seek comments from stakeholders.
"The latest 4th draft on Social Security Code, 2019, is totally disappointing for the workers," said BMS in its comments on the code submitted to the ministry on Monday.
According to a statement by the trade union, BMS has said the new draft is a weak cut and paste of existing eight social security laws with different threshold limits for different benefits, and, in the current form, is contrary to the objectives of the codification of labour laws.
"Unlike the wage code, it is not universal, i.e. it did not aim the last worker to be benefitted by all the benefits. It creates a class division of privileged employees, workers and unfortunate wage workers with different sets of benefits," it added.
BMS said the first draft of the code had contained highly beneficial provisions like providing the right to social security for all, last worker having access to nearly 14 social security benefits, constituting a central apex council headed by the prime minister, every local body to assist workers in security cadre, assuring that wage for the purpose of calculation will not be less than minimum wages, benefits continuing even after retirement, and providing a separate fund for gratuity, among others.
"They all are (beneficial clauses) missing (in the latest code)," it said.
The union has demanded that the eligibility for gratuity should be reduced from minimum five years of service to one year as up to 80 per cent of workers engaged in many organised sectors units are contract labours.
"The intention of the whole exercise gets tainted in the proposal of opting out of ESI (Employees State Insurance) and shifting from EPS (Employees' Pension Scheme) to NPS (National Pension System). 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. EPFO (Employees' Provident Fund Organisation) itself has come out with a study that EPS is more beneficial to the workers compared to NPS," it said.
BMS also said most of the powers under the draft code are arbitrarily retained for executive decisions including power to exempt the law to establishments or arbitrarily reducing the rate of contribution to the social security funds.
The government share of 1.16 per cent in EPS has been withdrawn, it said. Flaws in the existing social security laws raised by trade unions are not at all taken care of in the code, it added.
Inducting private players in implementing schemes and running ESI medical colleges and hospitals is also objectionable.
On many benefits, the employer is made personally liable which should be replaced by social insurance but not commercial insurance.
Many allowances are exempted from the definition of wages, which will encourage erring employers to cleverly reduce their contribution to the EPF, the union said.
"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 (Bhimrao) Ambedkar. It should not miss the historic role in shaping the destiny of the nation by its casual approach. Hence, BMS totally rejects the 4th draft and requests the government to reconsider and modify the second draft considering the objections and suggestions made by the BMS to it, to the benefit of workers", it added.

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First Published: Oct 28 2019 | 4:40 PM IST

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