Labour codes need to be drafted keeping in mind realities of informal sector workers -Ileena Roy and Ranjana Das

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published Published on Feb 18, 2021   modified Modified on Feb 18, 2021

-The Indian Express

These vulnerabilities of the informal sector became even more prominent as the entire country went into a state of suspension due to the lockdown enforced as a state response to the pandemic.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her budget speech referred to the implementation of the four labour codes, closing the process that started 20 years ago. She also mentioned a handsome Rs 15,700 crore for MSMEs, more than double of this year’s budget estimate.

The announcements are welcome if they provide job and social security to informal workers. India’s estimated 450 million informal workers comprise 90 per cent of its total workforce, with 5-10 million workers added annually. Nearly 40 per cent of these employed with MSMEs.

Why are these important announcements? According to Oxfam’s latest global report, The Inequality Virus, out of the total 122 million who lost their jobs in 2020, 75 per cent, which translates to 92 million jobs, were lost in the informal sector. The report further highlights that over 300 informal workers died due to the lockdown, with reasons ranging from starvation, suicide, exhaustion, road and rail accidents, police brutality and denial of timely medical care. The National Human Rights Commission recorded over 2,582 cases of human rights violation as early as April 2020.

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The Indian Express, 18 February, 2021,

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