By Gyan Pathak
Now it is official. Creation of decent formal jobs in the country remained subdued in May and low paying ones increased. Social security has also considerably declined as it has been noticed in the National Pension Scheme. As for the informal and gig workers, their conditions have been noted as pathetic by the department related Standing Committee of the Parliament of India, that has asked the Ministry of Labour and Employment to formulate and implement welfare schemes for them.
As per the latest official data released by the Union Government, new subscription to the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) Scheme declined 1 per cent sequentially in May, which indicates that creation of new decent jobs in the formal sector has declined, contrary to the claims of impressive number of jobs creation by the ruling political establishment led by PM Narendra Modi. It is also worth recalling that the Union Minister of Labour and Employment Bhupender Yadav had patted his back last month telling the country about “impressive” job creation of 1.25 crore since 2014 under PM Modi’s rule. In reality it was a pittance compared to requirement of above 18 crore new jobs during this period.
The number of workers re-subscribing to the EPF scheme was far worse that declined 16 per cent in May, compared to April. It reveals that the workers are losing decent formal jobs very fast, and then are not able to get another, and hence the re-subscription level fell.
The data released by the Union Ministry of Labour and Employment shows yet another distressing trend regarding social security of workers. The National Pension Scheme (NPS) saw a decline in new subscription, which indicates that social security is provided to lesser number of workers. The monthly addition in the NPS fell by 14.6 per cent to 57,695 in May compared to 67,534 in April.
It is a horrific condition since over 2 crore people join every year in the workforce, ie 16.66 lakhs per month. Among those who are able to find formal jobs, larger share was of the low-paying employment, which is reflected in the Employees’ State Insurance subscriptions, which is applicable to smaller establishments and less remunerative jobs. The data shows that at a time when bigger establishments declining in providing higher paying jobs, smaller enterprises were increasing number of formal jobs.
The latest ESI data shows that there was 11 per cent rise in new subscriber month-on-month basis. The share of the workers aged 29 and above increased in the first two months – April and May – of the financial year 2023-24 from 38 per cent in 2022-23 to 39.2 per cent.
As against such a decline in social security and decent jobs in the organized sector, a recent department related Parliamentary Standing Committee, has said in its latest report that India’s unorganized sector employs nearly 90 per cent of country’s workforce, but depriving them of social security benefits such as pension, health and paid sick leave.
The situation of gig and platform workers were more pathetic, as the Standing Committee on Labour Textile and Skill Development had noted that gig and platform workers do not come under the purview of the Employees Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act. NitiAayog has estimate last year in 2022 that the number of such workers was expected to reach 2.35 crore by 2029-30.
Given this scenario, the Committee has asked the government to formulate a scheme exclusively for them as envisaged in the Code of Social Security, 2020, that has proposed to bring gig workers under the ambit of social security schemes. It should also be noted that this code is yet to be implemented as the rules framed under it are yet to be notified.
It may also be shocking to know that the Committee has said in its report that the response of the Union Ministry of Labour and Employment was “silent on the specific measures contemplated for framing a scheme” for gig workers.
As we are approaching closer to the Lok Sabha election 2024, the Union Government is taking a position that there is not much unemployment in the country since enough number of employments is already being generated by the country. It has been brought forward by not less than the Chairperson of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council, at a time when unemployment rate has been hovering about 8 per cent in recent months as per the CMIE data.
As PM candidate Narendra Modi had himself promised 10 million jobs yearly in 2013, and then ‘work with dignity to all hands’ which was interpreted as 20 million as per the requirement, since that much number of people were estimated to entering the work force every year. That is why opposition have all along been demanding where are the promised 20 million new jobs creation?
PM’s Economic Advisory Council Chairperson’s argument that India needs new job generation in the range of only 5-8 million a year. His logic is that 10-12 million new job requirement was based on the data of 2003-4, when the population growth rate was 1.5 per cent, which has now declined to possibly 0.8 per cent.
Of course, such a statement is to shield the PM Narendra Modi who has failed to deliver on his promise of creating 2 crore new jobs every year. Even if his chief economic advisor comes to his rescue, 1.25 crore new jobs in 9 years are far less than his own assessment of requirement in the range of 4.5-7.2 crore during this period.
It goes without saying that the ruling political establishment and it officials are misleading the country on new job generation in general and formal decent job creation in particular. (IPA Service)