In the Regional Conference of the State Legal Services Authorities of the Western Region organised by the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) at Ahmedabad on 28-29 August, 2010 the topic of deliberations was Workers in the Unorganised Sector and the Role of Legal Services Authorities. Detailed discussions took place on the plight of unorganised workers in securing their statutory rights and availing of the benefits of the various schemes put in place by the State Governments.
It is estimated that the workers in the unorganised sector contribute more than 60 per cent of the national economy. Unlike their brethren in the organised sector, they are generally reluctant to come to the forefront and demand for the benefits under the various schemes and other welfare measures put in place by the labour department and other institutions because of their sheer unorganised or loosely organised nature. Such workers are generally not confined to any particular area as their place of work has no permanent status. Quite often their work is seasonal and when the work at once place is finished they migrate to other places in search of work. They do different kinds of work depending on the availability of work. Some stick on to certain avocations on the basis of caste and tradition and yet remain unorganised.
In this scenario, the general problem the authorities and welfare institutions face is that the workers in the unorganised sector are not identifiable. Illiteracy, poverty and the concern for earning their daily bread compel these workers to forsake the benefits of the various social welfare measures. It is the duty of the legal services institutions to reach out to the workers in the unorganised sector for making available the benefits of various schemes and to provide them the protection of law.
Most of the schemes and welfare laws for the benefits of the workers in the unorganised sectors are dispensed through the institutional mechanisms of Boards and Corporations. Such schemes and laws are in the nature of social security measures and provide assistance to the unorganised workers, at least to tide over their difficult times. Legal services institutions should come to the help of this disadvantaged group to make available the benefits though small in quantum, to ease their struggle against the odds of life.