Centralized one-day training was organized to the workers’ collectives in Karur district on the 17th of December 2023. Ninety-five members of workers’ collectives from eight blocks of Karur district participated in it. Trade unionists and a researcher on social protection of the unorganized workers imparted training to the participants.
The trade unionist Mr. Kasinathan said that only 7 per cent of the worker population is organized sector workers, who enjoy labour rights and social protection, while the remaining 93 per cent remain unorganized sector workers, who do not deserve the benefits of labour laws and social protection. He said that government implements social security schemes through different Labour Welfare Boards but only a small number of workers are aware of it and enroll their names in Labour Welfare Boards for availing the benefits of those schemes. He further said many workers availed multiple benefits by registering their names with labour welfare boards, agricultural boards and other schemes and this practice induced the government to ordain that certification from VAO (village administrative officer) is mandatory for an unorganized sector worker to enroll one’s name in the respective labour welfare board. He also pointed out that workers must be democratic minded, secular and forward looking for claiming their rights.
The researcher Mr. Sundarbabu explained the advent of ESI (employee’s state insurance) in 1948 immediately after Indian independence and recalled the historical incident of the first prime minister of India Mr. Nehru enrolling his name as the first beneficiary of ESI Corporation in 1953. He emphasized ESI coverage to all unorganized workers, since ESI Act ensures medical care, financial reimbursement, maternity leave and financial assistance. He also said that ESI coverage to every worker is important at the time when medical expenses are increasing due to natural calamity and man-made disasters.
Ms. Christinasamy appreciated the participants saying that they had been selected to the members of workers’ collectives and invited to that training because of their potential and leadership qualities. She said that there are 6000 members with KADALU (Karur District All Labourers’ Union) and it is mainly working for retrieving labour rights in addition to facilitating workers to avail the benefits of social security schemes. She appealed to the participants that they must learn newer things from the training and convey them to other workers in their respective villages.
As the last item of training, the participants were let to ask questions and get clarifications. Many questions were posed about the accessibility to ESI coverage. Dr. Sundarbabu explained that all workers have the right to access ESI coverage. Further, he recommended browsing the website for ESI and calling the labour helpline of WPC (working people’s coalition).