Shri Arun Jaitley,
Honourable Finance Minister
Government of India
134, North Block
New Delhi, 110 001
Sub: Adequate Financial Allocation to Centrally Sponsored Schemes;
Increase in remuneration to Scheme Workers
We, more than one crore scheme workers under the banner of the central trade unions through the all India Strike today , 17th January 2018 demand that the Government of India to make adequate financial allocation to the Centrally Sponsored Schemes to ensure the implementation of the recommendations of the 45th Indian Labour Conference, the highest tripartite forum on labour regarding the scheme workers.
As you are aware, nearly sixty lakh workers mostly women from the poor and marginalised sections of the society are working under the major flagship programmes of the Government of India, the ICDS, NHM and MDMS, delivering the basic services of nutrition, health and preprimary education and maternal and child care. These schemes cover 8 crore children under six, more than 2 crore mothers and 11core children between 6-14 yrs. These schemes have proved to be effective in combating hunger, malnutrition and health of a vast population as is reflected in many studies by various agencies. Including these workers, a total of nearly one crore scheme workers are working under various centrally sponsored schemes like SSA, NCLP, National Savings etc.
It is unfortunate that last few years there has been reduction in the budget allocation for these crucial schemes. You may recollect that the allocation for ICDS in the Union budget 2015-16 had come down from Rs 18108 crore in 2014 – 15 to a paltry Rs 8245.77 crores, which has to be increased later on in supplementary budgets. Similarly the budget allocation for MDMS was reduced to Rs.9000crores in 2015-16 from Rs.13150cores in 2014-15. This is in spite the fact that various parliamentary committees and government agencies as well as the Apex Court recommended for a better infrastructure and services to these schemes.
The increased financial allocation to the states in 2015-16 following the implementation of 14th Finance commission recommendation was nullified by the cut in central assistance to the states. The ‘Report of Chief Ministers on rationalisation of Centrally sponsored Schemes’ points out that, in 2015-16 there was a reduction of Rs.1.33 lakh cores in the central assistance to states and a cut of Rs.83,000 cores in 66 centrally sponsored schemes. In addition to this the funding pattern between centre and state has been changed from 90:10 to 60:40, again a cut of 30%. This is in spite of the recommendation of this committee of chief Ministers.
As a result, the services of these schemes have been badly affected during the last three years. The remuneration of the workers and the facilities of the schemes are also being affected due to the budget cuts. In addition, citing the lack of funds, there is a move for privatisation of the schemes involving corporate and corporate NGOs. The beneficiaries are being excluded in the name of linking of Aadhar and bank accounts. There is also a move for introducing conditional cash transfers in place of universal services of crucial schemes including the ones which ensure food security.
As you are well aware, half of the children in India, 50% of whose population is less than 25 years of age, are stunted, wasted and severely malnourished. 79% of Indian women and children are anemic. According to the ministry of WCD, out of the 2.5 crore births taking place in India every year, only 1.75 crore children survive to reach their first birthday, i.e, 75 lakh children die every year before they reach one year. You may agree that in India, which ranks 100 among 119 countries in Global Hunger Index and 131 among 188 countries in Human Development Index, strengthening these schemes are very crucial.
It is more than three and half years since the 45th session of Indian Labour Conference has recommended that the scheme workers, should be recognised as ‘workers’, provided minimum wages and pension and other social security benefits. But it is regrettable that none of these important recommendations and assurances has been implemented till now.
In this circumstance, we are forced to go on for one day strike all over India on 17 January 2018 under the banner of the central trade unions.
We urge that the Union budget 2018-19 should reflect the aspirations of the poor people in India to strengthen the basic services schemes, of the scheme workers for a better wage and working condition and also will reflect the promises in the election Manifesto of NDA on the scheme workers. Hence, we the scheme workers
- Implement the recommendations of the 45th ILC on scheme workers: recognition as workers, minimum wages not less than Rs.18,000 per month and social security including monthly pension not less than Rs.3000 to all scheme workers. Give coverage of EPF and ESI to scheme workers.
- Adequate financial allocation in the Union Budget 2018-19 for the Centrally sponsored schemes including ICDS, MDMS, NHM, SSA, NCLP, National Savings etc to ensure increase in wages for the workers to the level of minimum wages and universalisation of the schemes with adequate infrastructure and quality services.
- No privatisation of the schemes in any form and no subversion by way of cash transfer or exclusion of beneficiaries
INTUC AITUC HMS CITU AIUTUC
TUCC SEWA AICCTU LPF UTUC