10th Quarterly Update: Start of systemic change in ESIC and Safety and worker compensations exceed R
Dear supporters of Safe in India Foundation
We are pleased to report our 10th quarterly update. Highlights:
* Now total 1800 workers assisted with health-care and helped obtain total compensation of more than Rs12cr (c.USD2m) from ESIC.
* Systemic change for ESIC services progressing well with support of Regional Dir ESIC Gurgaon, our Nodal Point in ESIC NHQ and DG ESIC.
* Systemic change discussions to reduce these accidents started with Maruti, Honda and Hero. Actions being pursued.
* Studies initiated on Power Press safety features, on legal breaches in smaller factories, and compliance on NVGs by Maruti, Hero, Honda, Mahindra, Bajaj and Honda.
In our ESIC pillar of activity, we assisted another 149 (133 last quarter) injured workers and helped obtain 97 new compensations amounting to value of Rs 2.7 cr. A typical beneficiary is Dilip Rao, 29, who thanks you all: “I met with an accident in Feb 2018, when I lost three fingers of my left hand. You helped me throughout the ESIC process and after a year, I started receiving my monthly pension of Rs3,300 from Feb 2019. Thank you!”
As a result, our overall direct Impact now includes assisting c.1800 workers with their ESIC healthcare and helping them obtain Rs 12+ crore compensation. This in itself is a return of more than 10x on the expenditure incurred by us. See our Direct Impact Report here.
It's gratifying to see that our ESIC system-improvement efforts have started bearing fruit. ESIC Gurgaon accelerated workers’ Permanent Disability Benefit (PDB or "pensions") with an improved process of Suvidha Samagam (a monthly problem resolution regional forum) with our specific process and output feedback. We would like to congratulate the new Regional Director–Gurgaon for listening to us. We are now working with ESIC national Head Office to improve this and several other processes nationally and have their in-principle support.
We were also honoured and pleased that CAG India (Comptroller Audit General of India) invited us to be on their expert panel to discuss the design of their forthcoming audit of ESIC. We expect this audit to highlight a number of systemic, operational and strategic, deficiencies in ESIC structure and processes that we have been systematically reporting and will aim to make ESIC systems more worker-centric rather than staff-centric. We will continue to assist and influence ESIC and CAG in this process to be able to impact lives of 12 crore (120m) people in India who depend on ESIC for their healthcare and insurance compensations.
Unfortunately, these accidents continue to happen at an alarming rate so we have an unending job of finding and assisting these injured workers. In our second pillar of activity, Safety, to prevent such accidents, we had our second quarter of intense activity to start influencing key stake-holders to improve safety in the supply chain of auto-sector in Gurgaon. We sent our analysis of the reasons and recommendations based on data of 1000+ auto-sector injured workers assisted by us to Maruti, Honda and Hero. We were pleased that, all three of them have responded, and agreed and acknowledged the problem. We are in the process of seeking next steps and hope that they make a serious effort. We are convinced that given the current state of affairs, we can prevent a large number of these accidents with marginal effort. We want to thank our un-named senior supporters who have quietly helped us influence this process. You know who you are! Here is a 5 minute video of a focus group of 50+ workers discussing these accidents and the reasons:
We have also made presentations to various government departments in Ministry of Labour, DG Fasli (government’s safety arm), ISH Haryana (Industrial Safety and Health) as indeed it’s their role to enforce the Factory Law adequately in this supply chain. Progress is slow though we are pleased to say that DG Fasli invited us on their expert panel on auto-sector factory safety in Chennai and also chaired our meeting with ISH. We are thankful to Deputy DG Fasli for his efforts. We have a large number of actions we need to pursue on this front!
In parallel, we have started building technical expertise in Power Press because 50%+ accidents occur on this single type of machine. It’s clear that some of the laws need to be strengthened (some serious breaches have a penalty of only Rs1,000!) and better enforced (some government officers have unbridled powers to exempt factories from some really necessary safety practices)
We have also formed an expert panel to study compliance with National Voluntary Guidelines (NVGs) for Social, environmental and economic responsibilities of Business. NVGs have now become NGRBC (National Guidelines for Responsible Business conduct). The word ‘voluntary’ has been removed though they remain guidelines. Our early analysis of top 6 auto-companies indicates inconsistent and inadequate compliance to NVGs regarding safety in supply chain. The industry is required to report to SEBI on these and we have written to them requesting information about their compliance not available in public domain.
Our indirect impact is now building up too. Improvements in ESIC, improvements in safety practices when they start, workshops and seminars in IIM Ahmedabad and Ashoka University, expert panels at CAG, DG Fasli, etc are all for increasing awareness of the issue and its solutions, and building a consensus around the need to improve safety for Indian workers, not only for their health, but also for productivity of Indian manufacturing.
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(NB: Safe in India Foundation is an initiative of IIM Ahmedabad batch of 1991, now also supported by IIT Roorkee Batch of 1988)