TN: Unorganised Sector Workers Demand to Scrap Online Portal of Welfare Board
The protest in Tiruvallur. Image courtesy: CITU, Tamil Nadu
Automobile drivers, construction labourers, tailors, roadside vendors, domestic workers and other unorganised sector workers staged demonstrations across Tamil Nadu on July 25. 19 unorganised workers’ trade unions affiliated to the CITU (Centre of Indian Trade Unions) demanded rectification of mishaps in the state labour and welfare board.
Online application of membership for the board must be cancelled at once, they urged strongly. The board’s website has been down for the past three weeks, and there are many glitches in the online portal, which include membership registration, renewal, filing of petitions, etc.
All other 18 unorganised workers’ labour welfare boards should provide monetary benefits for education and natural and accidental death compensation as provided by the construction workers’ welfare board, insisted the protestors.
The protest in Salem. Image courtesy: CITU, Tamil Nadu
The trade unions demanded that additional staff be appointed in the welfare offices, and the workers’ demands should be resolved quickly.
The protestors gathered outside welfare offices across Tamil Nadu and urged for an overall increase in funds and to disburse monetary benefits without delay.
GLITCHES IN THE ONLINE PORTAL
Membership registration should be done directly at the welfare office, and the member identity card should be issued immediately, insisted the unorganised workers.
Petitions seeking monetary benefit are rejected on flimsy grounds, so they demanded the board to directly receive petitions for natural and accidental death compensations.
Moreover, eight lakh members have been removed from the board; these should be rectified, read the CITU statement released before the protest.
“There are constant server issues. The portal is also demanding documents which are not within the protocol, so registration has become a huge hassle,” said Kumar, leader of the Construction Workers Federation of India (CWFI), Tamil Nadu.
The protest in Virudhunagar. Image courtesy: CITU, Tamil Nadu
Notably, the Tamil Nadu Labour Welfare Board website server was recently upgraded for Rs 13 crore.
Prompt consideration of appeals and payment of benefits, and re-admission of those removed from the online registration list were demanded by the protestors.
Since the online registration process began in 2020, unorganised sector workers have faced difficulties with the portal. Given the unemployment situation, many of them are dependent on the benefits from the board.
‘INCREASE MONETARY BENEFITS’
The trade unions made demands regarding increasing monetary benefits and hassle-free claims from the welfare board. They said a meagre increase of a few hundred rupees pension is not sufficient; they demanded Rs 3000 pension. They also said women workers should be given a pension from the age of 55.
Informal workers receiving widow allowance should not be denied benefits, they insisted.
The protest in Cudalore. Image courtesy: CITU, Tamil Nadu
The demonstration emphasised the welfare board to raise the natural death fund to Rs 2 lakh, funeral fund to Rs 25,000 and accidental death fund to Rs 5 lakh.
CITU also demanded the Rs 1,000 Kalaignar Magalir Urimai Thittam (women's entitlement scheme) to include women from pensionable unorganised worker families.
Steps should be taken to provide Rs 4 lakh for the construction of houses for all the welfare board workers, said the trade unions.
Moreover, construction workers had given a call for three-tier protests. The first was held on June 19, the second was held along with other unorganised workers on July 25, and a large gathering is scheduled next in Chennai on September 13.
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