Informal sector workers in Gujarat win health care, social security with first identity cards

March 24, 2016

IUF Asia/Pacific Regional Secretary Hidayat Greenfield with Manali Shah of SEWA issuing the new ID cards to informal sector workers on March 17th (Image courtesy of IUF)

Manali Shah of SEWA & IUF Asia/Pacific Regional Secretary Hidayat Greenfield issuing the new ID cards to informal sector workers (Image courtesy of IUF)

After years of campaigning the IUF-affiliated Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) won a major victory for informal sector workers in the state of Gujarat in the form of government issued identity cards.

The identity cards are the first held by informal sector workers, identifying them as workers and granting access to free health insurance, accident insurance for women and children, hospitalization coverage and free access to rural health services covering all medical benefits for workers and their families. These health care and insurance entitlements are listed on the back of each workers’ identity card according to occupational sectors (construction; agriculture; and other).

In recent months SEWA exerted renewed pressure on the government by signing up over 60,000 informal sector workers by occupation and creating an extensive database. The government finally agreed to issue identity cards and now SEWA is in the process of assisting 100,000 workers in several industries to apply for and receive their cards. Tens of thousands of workers in the IUF sectors have already received their identity cards, including street food vendors, vegetable sellers, cooks’ helpers and food servers as well as agricultural and rural workers.

Like the ITF, the IUF is an international federation of trade unions. It represents workers employed in agriculture and plantations; the preparation and manufacture of food and beverages; hotels, restaurants and catering services; all stages of tobacco processing.

A version of this article originally appeared on the IUF Website on March 21st 2016. 

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