The latest National Sample Survey (NSS) report, “Informal Sector and Conditions of Employment in India”, finalized in July 2014, and based on survey between July 2011 and June 2012, has gone a long way to suggest extremely sorry state of affairs of workers in Gujarat, especially in what has been called the non-agricultural sector, as also in the sector identified AGEGC ([ag]riculture sector [e]xcluding [g]rowing of [c]rops). Seeking to analyze the status of affairs of workers with a special focus on the informal sector — in which 72.4 per cent of the total workers employed in the non-agricultural and AGEGC units are employed in India – the data show that the situation is particularly appalling in Gujarat, where 75.1 per cent belong to the informal sector out of the total workforce employed in the non-agricultural and AGEGC units.
The NSS report finds that not only average wages (casual and salaries combined) being paid in Gujarat – Rs 268 per day, as against the all-India average of Rs 322 – are lower than as many as 14 major states out of 20, things are equally bad vis-à-vis most states with regard to provision of social security and eligibility for paid leave, which may become a necessary during sickness. In fact, the survey has found that, while the proportion of temporary workers in Gujarat may not be higher than the all-India average (40 per cent, as against the all-India average of 42.1 per cent), the casualisation is so high that as many as 81.6 per cent of the workers in the state work in enterprises without any written contract. A comparison would suggest that only five of 20 major states have a higher proportion of workers working without any written contract with the employers.
The survey has found that Gujarat’s 73.1 per cent workers do not get the facility of paid leave – which is higher than all but six of the 20 major states. Further, 74.8 per cent of the workers of Gujarat are found to be working without any social security benefits, which again is worse than all but seven out of 20 major states. While no reasons have been forwarded in the NSS report for this state of affairs, data suggest that it may be linked to lack of workers’ participation in unions or associations. Thus, Gujarat’s 87.3 per cent workers are not associated with a union or an association, which is higher than most states except Rajasthan (89.5 per cent), Odisha (88.7 per cent), Jharkhand (88.2 per cent), and Himachal Pradesh (67.4 per cent). In the country as a whole, 80.2 per cent of workers are not associated with any union or association.
In its analysis, the NSS report explains that the proportion of employees who were found to be not eligible for paid leave and social security benefits — which consist of provident fund (PF) scheme, gratuity and, health care and maternity benefits — is considerably higher in most of the private sector enterprises, such as construction, manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, accommodation and food service activities, activities of households as employers, and undifferentiated goods and services producing activities of households for own use. On the other hand, paid leaves and social security benefits are available in public administration and defence, education, information and communication, financial and insurance activities, health and social work activities. It comments, “Non-availability of social security benefits is a measure of insecurity in the job one performs.”
*Senior journliast, firstname.lastname@example.org