Social security for unorganised labour in Bengal was an unheard thing before 2011. After Trinamool Congress took charge of the present Government, from bus drivers to taxi drivers, from street hawkers to auto rickshaw drivers, all have been brought under social security schemes.
Left Front did nothing to provide social security net to unoganised labour
Only during financial year 2000-01, after 23 years of rule, did the Left Front Government make any effort to provide a social security net to the unorganised labour force of the state – a provident fund scheme with help from the Centre, named State-assisted Scheme of Provident Fund for Unemployed Workers (SASPFUW). It provided monetary assistance to both self-employed unorganised labour as well as those working under an employer.
Yet, if one is to compare the last three years of the Left Front rule to the first three of the Trinamool, 1.61 times, or almost 61%, more people have been brought under the scheme – 20,81,000 against only 12,15,000. Whereas the average number per year was 4.31 lakh during the Left Front rule, it has been 6.93 lakh during the Trinamool rule.
Construction labour – much more covered as well as benefitted
For the unorganised labour force in the construction sector, the first social security scheme came only during financial year 2005-06, 28 years after the Left Front’s coming to power. The BOCWA scheme covered healthcare, pension, death benefits, accident benefits, etc. However, the amount given out under all the heads have been increased two to three times by the Trinamool Government.
During its last six years (2005-06 to 2010-11), the Left Front Government could enroll 2,72,000 such labour, of which almost 80%, or 2,25,000 were enrolled during the last three years. Comparing this with the number during the first three years of the Trinamool Government, one finds that it is more than five-and-a-half times.
Coming to the number of people who benefitted from BOCWA, one finds that during the last three years of the Left Front Government, 7,530 families of construction workers benefitted; whereas during the first three years of the Trinamool Government, 5,66,000 families benefitted, which more than 75 times.
Yuvashree Scheme is a scheme started by the Trinamool Government for the benefit of the unemployed youth of the State. The so-called people’s government of the Left Front could never think of such a scheme. From 2011-12 to 2013-14, 1,56,000 unemployed men and 87,000 women enroled. Thousands more are continuously enroling. Under the scheme, the first 1 lakh qualified candidates, until they get employment, are getting a grant of Rs 1,500 per month.
Trinamool Government miles ahead
Taking the SASPFUW and BOCWA schemes together, during its last 11 years, the Left Front Government could enrol 26 lakh people, whereas during only its first three years, the Trinamool Government has enrolled 33 lakh. During the respective periods mentioned, the Left Front Government spent Rs 9 crore, whereas the Trinamool Government spent a whopping Rs 176 crore.
At the same time, during the last three years of the Left Front rule, 1,72,00,000 man-days were lost due to strikes; this came down 265 times during the first three years of the Trinamool Government to only 65,000 man-days.
Hence, it is quite apparent that the Trinamool Congress Government is much more intent upon improving the condition of the unorganised labour force of West Bengal.