Civil society demands universal pension for elderly
New Delhi, May 4 (IANS) Members of civil society and the unorganised sector Friday demanded universal pension rights for the elderly of the unorganised sector with a series of public hearings to press for the rights.
"Longevity has increased, lives are longer but the bodies of the old are unable to cope with the hard physical work that is required to sustain them. It is the obligation of the state to provide pensions to people who are no longer able to work," said Aruna Roy, social activist and member of the National Advisory Council (NAC).
"There are strong and progressive international precedents in lower and middle income countries vis-a-vis pension," added Roy.
Around 3,000 workers from 20 states and leaders of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sanghatan will hold a series of agitations and public hearings May 7 to May 11 in New Delhi's Jantar Mantar to demand pension rights. The Pension Parishad will demand universal pension rights for the elderly in the unorganised sectors such as waste pickers, domestic workers and headloaders, among others.
"The demand for pensions is a global demand, not linked to per capita incomes. About 8 crore people will have to be covered in the country where GDP is growing at 8 percent," said Prabhat Patnaik, former member of the Kerala State Planning Board.
Activists are also advocating stronger implementation of the Unorganised Workers Social Security Act 2008.
"The Act provides for pensions to unorganised workers and since they constitute 93 percent of the workforce. We are arguing for universalisation of pension," said Baba Adhav, veteran leader of unorganised workers in Maharashtra.
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