ActionAid Drives Change by Empowering Informal Sector Workers with the District Labour Department

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New Delhi:  The Odisha Unorganised Workers Social Security Board (OUWSSB) facilitated an Unorganised Workers Awareness Camp at the Red Cross Bhawan in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, recently. The event took place in collaboration with the District Labour Department at Khordha, the Centre for Child and Women Development and the ActionAid Association. This informative event aimed at empowering informal sector workers by disseminating crucial information regarding their eligibility for various social security schemes provided by the Government of Odisha.

The Unorganised Workers Awareness Camp was a significant step towards educating and engaging with the local community, particularly informal workers, about the recent expansion of eligibility for social security benefits. During this event, the District Labour Department in Odisha shared with the over 150 members of the local community about approximately 50 different categories of informal workers who have recently become eligible for social security benefits. Department representatives offered comprehensive insights into the nature of these schemes, clarifying the application process and ensuring that informal workers understand how to access entitlements effectively.

The event began with an inaugural speech by Pranab Kumar Patro, Divisional Labour Commissioner, Bhubaneswar and was soon followed by a brief presentation on the activities of Odisha Unorganised Workers Social Security Board by Somya Ranjiya Dalei, Assistant Labour Officer, Bhubaneswar.

Shri Neelambar Mishal, Additional Labour Commissioner appreciated the role of ActionAid Association & Centre for Child and Women Development (CCWD) in putting together the programme and the effort towards reaching out to the workers with information and support in facilitating their access to social security benefits. He remarked that “we need to work together for this.” He urged the ActionAid Association and CCWD to continue this collaborative effort in reaching out to the unorganised workers and join in the endeavour of the Government in ensuring social security for informal workers.

Sadasiva Swain, Secretary of CCWD, shared that CCWD and ActionAid Association have been working together to sensitise unorganised workers on the schemes and programmes of the government and support them to get registered with access to benefits. He stated that the addition of 50 new categories of informal workers to the list is a progressive step forward. He extended thanks to the department for this. Also, he raised the issue of violence faced by the domestic workers, and the inconvenience and unwillingness of the employer to provide them toilets while working.

Debabrat Patra, Associate Director of ActionAid Association, congratulated the State Government for considering the asks of people and including 50 different types of informal sector workers under the Social Security Board of Unorganised Workers. He said that “there is a need for continued engagement with BMC, Department of Labour and civil society actors for fulfilling other asks of unorganised sector workers like building restrooms, urinals, drinking water facilities, Aahara Kendra and giving special attention to over 6500 homeless people in Bhubaneswar who are mostly informal sector workers.”

Shreemayee Sweta Snigdha Mishra, Hon’ble Chairperson, Odisha Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board, Bhubaneswar acknowledged the initiative of the State Government, especially the Chief Minister of Odisha, Naveen Patnaik, for acceding to the asks of people to include 50 different types of informal sector workers under the Social Security Board for Unorganised Workers. She shared her appreciation of the involvement of civil society actors in facilitating this meeting and helping people access various schemes and entitlements in the government. She also asked people to help their communities spread awareness about accessing labour cards under the new initiative.

Among others were Basanta Patra, Dattopant Thengadi National Board for Workers Education & Development (DTNBWED), Education Officer and members of the departments who joined the meeting. They sensitised the participants on the schemes of the government and made clarifications to the issues raised by the participants related to registration, renewal, and the process of getting benefits.

The convergence of efforts underscored the commitment of the Odisha Unorganised Workers Social Security Board and its partners to uplift and protect the rights of informal sector workers throughout the State. By fostering awareness and knowledge sharing, the event contributed to improving the well-being and livelihoods of countless unorganised workers in Odisha.