R. Naagarajan, Faculty, Department of Economics, PSG College of Arts and Science, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu
An attempt has been made in this paper to analyse the social protection measures available to informal sector workers in the Coimbatore district of Tamil Nadu. The problem is approached with the objective of studying the working conditions, the security of employment and income, the health status and health security of workers, the nature of relationship between employer and employees, and the willingness of workers to participate in a contributory insurance scheme. The respondents have been selected by using a random sample from the foundry and pump units in Coimbatore. The descriptive analysis clearly shows that workers in the Coimbatore informal sector face a high degree of employment and health insecurity. Workers are found to toil for long hours. Gender-based wage discrimination is widely prevalent. An interesting feature observed is the high casualisation of labour. The workers have nobody to turn to, the government is indifferent, the casual mechanism is tardy, and there is a major dilemma about the unions. Due to the unhealthy and unhygienic nature of the production process, around two-fifths of the workers are affected by occupational health hazards. No specific healthcare protection is made available to these workers either by the government or by the employers. Such insecurity is further pronounced through the following factors: long waiting period; high labour turnover; informal employer-employee relationships; and rising unemployment and under-employment.