New Delhi: The RSS-affiliated trade union, the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), has urged the Modi government to provide a legal framework to state-run schemes such as Ayushman Bharat, Atal Pension Yojana and the PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana among others.
In a pre-budget consultation with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman, the trade union has also demanded that the income tax exemption limit should be raised to Rs 10 lakh, while also calling for an urban MNREGA on the lines of the rural unemployment scheme. The RSS outfit wants all of its demands incorporated in the 2021 Budget.
“These flagship government schemes are only schemes; they have no legal sanction and are at the mercy of administrators,” Girijesh Upadhyay, the BMS’ national general secretary told ThePrint.
“We want long-term solutions and not short-term interventions,” he added. “Ayushman Bharat (which provides free healthcare) is a good scheme but what is the guarantee it will be there in the long run? Any finance minister can change it. It is the same for Atal Pension Yojana, the Kisan Nidhi and similar schemes. Our demand is that the government should make a law for enabling their continuity.
“When the UPA government implemented MNREGA, it brought in a bill to give legislative status to the scheme,” another BMS functionary said. “Now no can change or end MNREGA through an executive order. So to give them social security, the government should legalise its schemes. What is the difficulty in giving legal status to a government flagship scheme?”
The suggestions were all made during a pre-budget consultation that the finance minister held with the BMS over the weekend.
Apart from the income tax exemption rise and legal status to government schemes, the BMS also called for a pandemic unemployment allowance, consultation on disinvestment in profit-making public sector units (PSUs) and more outlay on social security schemes for the unorganised sector in the upcoming budget.
In its interaction with Sitharaman, the BMS has demanded that the government start an urban MNREGA as the Covid-19 crisis has exposed the disparities faced by migrant workers in cities.
“The PM Garib Kalyan Yojana was a good scheme with timely intervention to the rural sector during Covid but distress isn’t confined to just the rural sector,” Upadhyay said. “There has been more distress in the urban sector. Companies have closed and sector after sector is not picking up. So we want the FM to announce an urban MNREGA for migrants and other such workforce in the next budget.”
The RSS-affiliated trade body also wants the Modi government to announce a pandemic unemployment allowance for informal workers in the badly-affected sectors of construction, cinema, travel, handloom, hospitality and automobile sectors.
Another BMS functionary said the allowance can be stopped once the sectors are revived.
Law on contract jobs
The BMS has also demanded either a new law or an amendment to existing legislation for the safety and security of contract jobs.
“Around 80 per cent jobs in every sector are contractual and they are not well-defined. There is no security provision in these jobs and such employees are at the mercy of employers,” another BMS functionary said.
“There is little clarity on termination without providing notices and financial benefits. There is a lot of discrepancy between regular and contractual employees. We demand regularisation of contract jobs in the government and for the private sector, a well-defined contract job policy.”
The functionary added that the outfit wants the gratuity period changed from five years to one year as a majority of jobs are becoming temporary.
In a range of other demands, the organisation wants the government to hold consultations on disinvestment in profit-making PSUs and a bigger outlay on social security schemes for the unorganised sector in the upcoming budget.