In the Indian labour market, the unorganised labour constitutes an overwhelming majorityof the labour force. For example, in the year 1999-2000 the total employment constituted397 million persons. Out of this, only 28.11 million persons were employed in theorganised sector which constitutes approximately only 7% of the total employment.
Thus93% of the employed are in the unorganised sector. Even within this organised sector,over two-third employment is in the public sector. Under the post-1991 globalisationpolicies, organised employment in the public sector has been falling as a result ofgovernment’s gradual withdrawal from the business sector. During the period 1994-2005,the rate of growth of employment in public sector was negative (-0.70% per annum)which brought the total organised sector employment growth rate to a smaller negativerate of -0.31%, in spite of a positive growth rate of 0.58% in the private sector.
In otherwords, a vast 93% of the workforce is the unorganised sector and therefore, there isan imperative need to concentrate all public attention on this unorganised sector.The unorganised labour, whether urban or rural, has always remained at the bottom ingetting the benefits of development. It is not a beneficiary from the high growth rateexperienced by the economy since 1990s. As the empirical evidence shows, we havebeen having a ‘jobless growth’ both in terms of quantity and quality of employment. Theunorganised labour constitutes child workers, poor women workers, bonded labour,contract labour etc., who have been facing exploitation in the labour market. The positionof women in the unorganised sector has been very poor and vulnerable.
The ‘ShramShakti’ Report (Ila Bhatt Commission, 1988) has brought out comprehensively the natureof self-employment of women and their poor working and living conditions.The fluctuating nature of employment in several sectors of unorganised labour is a majorproblem. In rural areas many occupations including agriculture are seasonal and highlydependent on the monsoon. The failure of the monsoon creates enormous problems foragricultural labour and small farmers who are all unorganized because of seasonalunemployment. Even in urban areas, when business and industry face a ‘downturn’ orrecession, employment is adversely affected. The variations throw a section of organisedlabour into unorganised sector and during ‘boom’ times there are shifts of labour fromunorganised to organised sector of the economy