for building a democratic labour movement in India
Indian Labour Update Jan-March 2015
Center for Workers Education, New Delhi
Download Document:Indian Labour Update January-March 2015
This is an update of labour struggles and issues for January-March 2015, that appeared in the English news papers. This is not a complete coverage, and there also may be geographical imbalances in this coverage. But it clearly reflects on trends. This may be useful in understanding the trends in labour-capital relations, the problems that the workers are facing in the new development dynamics and causes of widespread discontent among labour. Most importantly it reflects on the fact that in almost all sectors and in almost all geographical locations, the labour is challenging the aggression of capital and attempting reorganize and rebuild itself and reviving the labour movement to reclaim its socio-political and economic rights and the space for collective bargaining.
Reclaiming the rights and space for collective bargaining
Ford India recognises workers union
Chennai, March 12, 2015 (http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/ford-india-recognises-workers-union-115031200296_1.html)
More than a decade after production started at Ford India’s plant near here, workers have finally got a union recognised by the management, said union officials. “Nearly fifteen years after production started at our plant, we finally got a union recognised by the management. The collective bargaining rights of the workers have been finally recognised by the management,” K. Selvaraj, president of Chennai Ford Employees Union, told IANS on Thursday. “The union elections were held recently to elect the office bearers. The management wanted a worker’s union that does not have any political links,” A. Satish Kumar, general secretary, told IANS. According to Selvaraj, the union will represent the interests of workers at the company’s Maraimalai Nagar plant, about 50 km from here. Selvaraj said the plant has around 3,050 permanent workers and around 1,800 trainees. He said the company management has given the letter of recognition to the union. Selvaraj said the company’s second plant is coming up in Gujarat and it may take some time for the workers to settle down there. Feeling happy at the recognition of collective bargaining rights of workers, Selvaraj said the next task for the union is to settle down and prepare the charter of demands. “The current wage agreement is set to end soon and we have to start negotiating,” he said. Ford India is the second foreign owned automotive plant here to have finally recognised a worker’s union with a condition that all the members and the leaders should be from within the company and have no outsider links. Some years ago Hyundai Motor India Ltd. resolved its long pending union recognition issue in a similar manner. The other foreign owned automotive plants in Tamil Nadu are Renault Nissan Automotive India Pvt. Ltd., BMW India and Daimler India Commercial Vehicles.
77 former Maruti workers get bail
Gurgaon, March 17, 2015 (http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/77-former-maruti-workers-get-bail-115031701244_1.html)
They were jailed after they were involved in violence at the company’s Manesar plant in July 2012
A court here on Tuesday granted bail to 77 then workers ofMaruti Suzuki India Ltd. who were jailed after they were involved in violence at the company’s Manesar plant in July 2012. Additional District and Sessions Judge S K Khanduja granted bail to the 77 workers. A total of 148 workers were sent to jail after the July 18, 2012 violence at the company’s plant in Manesar, Haryana. The violence at the plant left human resource department head Ashwin Kumar Dev dead and over 50 people injured. Two workers were earlier granted bail by the Supreme Court on February 23, a defence lawyer said. “The court ordered the release of 77 workers on behalf of Rs.25,000 surety bond each,” defence counsel Monu Kuhar told IANS. He said the rest of the jailed workers would also soon apply for bail. The workers were arrested and sent to jail on charges of murder, attempt to murder and criminal conspiracy. The violence took place after a company supervisor allegedly abused and slapped a worker. Services of nearly 2,500 workers, including 546 permanent employees, were terminated after the incident. Maruti declared a lockout for over a month, causing a loss of several crores of rupees.
Gurgaon court directs Maruti to pay compensation to sacked workers
Gurgaon, March 4, 2015 (http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/gurgaon-maruti-sacked-workers-compensation-court/1/422117.html)
Gurgaon court directs Maruti to pay compensation to sacked workers The Gurgaon Labour Court on Monday directed country’s leading carmaker Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. to pay Rs.1 lakh each as compensation to 425 workers whose services were terminated following a violent unrest at the company’s Manesar factory in 2012. The sacked workers had moved the local civil and labour court to challenge the termination of their services. Their summary dismissal had led to widespread outcry across the workers’ spectrum and trade unions had accused the company’s management of arbitrariness. The Labour Court has now ordered Maruti Suzuki to deposit Rs.4.25 crore in the court for making payment to the workers. Each worker will receive Rs.85,000 as compensation; while Rs.15,000 will be paid to the court for its expenses. According to the court, the sacked workers were unnecessarily harassed since July 18, 2012 when violence had erupted at the Manesar plant. Workers’ lawyer Rajendar Pathak said, the company management had terminated the services of the workers merely on the suspicion that they had supported 148 accused workers who were allegedly involved in the arson that day. “The company had constituted an internal investigation team to probe that violent incident and it had recommended to the board of directors to sack these workers without proper investigation,” Pathak alleged. “In the last eight months, there have been four hearings in the Labour Court and the court observed that the sacked workers were victimised,” Pathak said. About 145 employees are currently facing criminal charges of conspiracy and murder, and are lodged in the district jail. Three other accused were discharged due to lack of evidence. “The Labour Court’s decision is a huge confidence-booster for us. We have now moved bail application of 76 workers before the concerned court,” Pathak said. Meanwhile, the Labour Court’s decision was welcomed by the workers who distributed sweets to celebrate. However, Maruti Suzuki Kamgar Union president Kuldeep Jhangu told Mail Today that the compensation was inadequate and the sacked workers should be reinstated. A Maruti Suzuki spokesperson said, “We will consider further course of action based on our understanding of the court’s order.
Cops beat up protesting teachers near Asansol
ASANSOL Mar 21, 2015, 12.23 (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/Cops-beat-up-protesting-teachers-near-Asansol/articleshow/46640072.cms?)
Kulti Police and CISF jawans on Friday lathicharged teachers who were agitating outside the main gate of the Sanctoria headquarters of Eastern Coalfields Limited (ECL). The teachers were demanding their dues. Around 12 teachers, including a 70-year-old retired woman, were injured in the police attack. Kulti police have arrested five teachers for “creating disturbance” in front of ECL headquarters. CITU district secretary and former Asansol MP Bansa Gopal Chowdhury condemned the incident. “Teachers are the pillars of our nation and should not have been beaten up by police publicly like criminals and animals,” he said. Local Trinamool Congress leader and Kulti MLA Ujjwal Chatterjee also condemned the incident. ECL has shut eight of their 164 primary schools, which were running without any students. However, the teachers of the closed schools demanded their salaries and post-retirement dues. Around 200 teachers had gathered outside the ECL headquarters under the banner of Koyla Khadan Sikshak Morcha. The general manager (welfare) of ECL, Ram Deo Rao, told TOI that they would not give any salaries to teachers of the schools that were closed. “It is not possible for us to fulfil their demands,” he added.
Krishna Chatterjee, a protesting teacher, said, “Police and CISF jawans mercilessly beat up the elderly teachers who were demonstrating peacefully to press for their demands.” Vineet Goyal, commissioner of Asansol Durgapur Police, was not available for comment. However, Kulti police justified the incident by saying that the teachers were disturbing law and order outside the ECL headquarters.
100 Employees Arrested for Protesting Over Manhandling Of Worker by Management Official, Workers Upload Video
CHENNAI: 03rd January 2015 (http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/100-Employees-Arrested-for-Protesting-Over-Manhandling-Of-Worker-by-Management-Official-Workers-Upload-Video/2015/01/03/article2601803.ece)
Labour trouble continues to plague the industrial ecosystem around Sriperumbudur, with more than 100 employees of NVH India Auto Ltd, a major supplier to Hyundai, arrested at around 3 AM this morning. They were protesting against the man handling of an employee by a company official. 28 union members who had declared a hunger fast demanding the arrest of the official, are being remanded under sections 143(unlawful assembly) and 188(disobedience of an order from a public servant), according to United Labour Federation state level secretary D Christopher. “Including me. I’m also being remanded,” he said. But a senior police official told Express that 100 people had been taken into custody as a preventive arrest and would be released soon. “About remanding some of them, we will decide one that after discussions with our superiors,” he said. The officer also said that the official has been booked for assault but hasn’t been taken into custody yet. Trouble initially erupted on Friday after 15 permanent employees were suspended following a demand for the company to use permanent employees on the production line and not contracted workers or apprentices. “It was during this protest that the official started manhandled one of our employees. We immediately refused to work and the production stopped,” said Christopher. A video of a Korean official dragging a protesting employee along the ground has also been uploaded to YouTube. The video shows the official pulling an employee by the legs and then standing over him while shouting at the other employees. while the company has been unavailable for comment, union officials claim that the person in the video is the same person. As outrage against the assault continued and employees staged a sit-in protest on company premises late into the night, police eventually removed them from the premises by arresting around 110 protesting workers and detaining them at a wedding hall in Sunguvarchathiram. Union members also said that the police had declared that they were disrupting supplies to the auto giant Hyundai by preventing production. “They have not taken any action till now against the official even though we showed them evidence,” said Christopher. NVH India Auto is a subsidiary of Korean components company NVH Auto which supplies sun visors, head liners, floor carpets and other products to Hyundai. The company currently has 120 confirmed employees, 500 contact workers and 150 trainees. “They have been conducting the company with trainees and contracted workers. We were demanding that direct production should involve only permanent employees,” Christopher said. The company has been unavailable for comment thus far.
Striking NVH India employees detained
Chennai: January 3, 2015 (http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/striking-nvh-india-employees-detained-115010300479_1.html)
A section of employees of NVH India Auto, component supplier to Korean auto maker Hyundai, who have been staging a sit-in strike in the factory at nearby Sriperumbudur demanding reinstatement of 17 dismissed workers, were detained today, police said. The agitating employees, numbering more than 90, are also demanding recognition of their union. “They were staging an sit-in-strike inside the campus since yesterday. Today, we have detained them,” a senior police official told PTI. One of the agitating employees, who did not want to be named, claimed the management had recently dismissed some workers following a strike and sought reinstatement of the workers and recognition of the employees’ union. NVH India Auto supplies sun visor, headliner, floor carpet toHyundai Motor India. The company has about 120 employees, 300 contract labourers and about 100 trainees. When contacted, a company official said efforts were on to solve the issue through negotiation with the employees. “It is unwarranted. They have been staging protests just to seek the attention of media”, the official said.
Auto parts firm MD booked for harassment, 125 workers held
Chennai: Jan 4, 2015 (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/Auto-parts-firm-MD-booked-for-harassment-125-workers-held/articleshow/45746545.cms)
There was high drama at an automobile manufacturing unit in Sriperumbudur on Friday when the managing director, a Korean national, was booked for harassing an employee. Police also arrested 97 employees of NVH Auto Parts Limited for preventing other employees from doing their work. The arrested were let off on bail immediately. About 28 other employees were arrested for protesting outside the firm in support of the agitating staff. Police said trouble erupted when 18 employees were suspended for demanding that the company use only permanent staff for production and not contract workers. In support of the demand, other staff staged a protest on the premises and the management used a few casual labourers to continue the work. When the agitators tried to prevent the casual labourers from working, managing director Choi Yoon Sik jumped to the fray to ensure production didn’t stop. A staff member, K Boobalan, tried to prevent the MD from working and was pushed down and held. Another staff member recorded the episode and uploaded it on YouTube. NVH India Auto, a subsidiary of Korean firm NVH Auto, has 120 permanent employees, 500 contract workers and 150 trainees. The company management was unavailable for comment. Police booked Choi Yoon Sik under IPC Sections 143 (unlawful assembly), 341 (wrongful restraint) and 506 (1) (criminal intimidation). “We have not arrested him as he was negotiating with his protesting staff,” a police officer said. Police arrested at least 28 members of the United Labour Federation (ULF), who had declared a hunger fast demanding the arrest of the official, are being remanded under sections 143 (unlawful assembly) and 188 (disobedience of an order from a public servant) and 7 (1) (a) Criminal Law Amendment Act.
PAPSCO workers call off strike, return to work
PUDUCHERRY, March 24, 2015 (HTTP://WWW.THEHINDU.COM/NEWS/CITIES/PUDUCHERRY/PAPSCO-WORKERS-CALL-OFF-STRIKE-RETURN-TO-WORK/ARTICLE7026106.ECE)
Workers of the Puducherry Agro Products, Food and Civil Supplies Corporation (PAPSCO), a Puducherry government undertaking who were on strike since Friday demanding disbursal of pending salaries returned to work on Monday after Chief Minister N. Rangasamy assured to look into their grievances and asked them to report to work. The dismissal order of 752 voucher based and daily rated workers in PAPSCO was also revoked by Chief Minister N. Rangasamy after a meeting with the workers in the Assembly on Sunday. A senior official in PAPSCO said that the dismissal order was only a warning to the workers not to repeat such misconduct in future. The management has since revoked its order and all the retrenched workers have been reinstated and accommodated in their respective positions in the various outlets of the Corporation. A spokesperson of the PAPSCO workers union pointed out that they would continue to engage in dialogue with the management to make sure their demands were addressed. All the workers including permanent employees have returned to work after the Chief Minister assured to address our grievances. The Chief Minister has also assured to appoint a regular Managing Director for the Corporation in a few days, he added.
Protesting PAPSCO workers lathi-charged
PUDUCHERRY, March 22, 2015 (http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/protesting-papsco-workers-lathicharged/article7019894.ece)
Police resorted to lathi charge to break up protests by workers of the Puducherry Agro Products, Food and Civil Supplies Corporation (PAPSCO) on Saturday. The protest was staged because over 750 workers were sacked for unauthorised absence from work since March 19. The workers, engaged under voucher based payment, have been on a strike to protest against the delay in settlement of wages for nearly six months. With the workers intensifying their agitation disrupting the routine functioning of the Corporation and its outlets, the management issued an order removing the voucher based workers. Notice- A notice has been displayed on the notice board of main office of PAPSCO at Thattanchavady on Friday night. A top official said that the workers went on a strike and absented from work without giving any notice to the management. The Corporation had terminated the services of the workers to ensure that there was uninterrupted supply of essential commodities like petrol, diesel and LPG to consumers. The official said that the Corporation had also received a notice from Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) warning that the license issued to the Corporation for selling LPG would be cancelled if there was no proper initiative to prevent dislocation of supply of cylinders. Chief Minister N. Rangasamy was seized of the matter and the management terminated the workers on the directions of the government, he said. Conciliatory talks-Meanwhile, conciliatory talks held on Saturday between representatives of Joint Action Committee of various trade unions of PAPSCO and the management to resolve the dispute on dismissal of the workers and pending wages failed to arrive at a conclusion. With the talks remaining inconclusive MLA and PAPSCO Chairman A. Tamil Selvane along with officials left the office in a huff. But they were prevented from going out by the workers. To escort them to safety, police had to lathi charge the workers. Three persons including two women sustained injuries in the lathi charge. P. Lakshmanasamy, president of Puducherry State Government Employees Central Federation said the government undertaking had incurred loss of over Rs.35 crore due to financial mismanagement and poor governance.
Workers protest outside Suzuki plants in Gurgaon
Gurgaon, March 18 (http://www.newkerala.com/news/2015/fullnews-33048.html)
Over 50 leaders of workers’ unions of all four plants of Suzuki Motors in Gurgaon launched a hunger strike on Wednesday demanding implementation of the new wage agreement. The 54 workers’ leaders — under the banner of Maruti Suzuki Mazdoor Sangh — started their hunger strike near the gates of Maruti Suzuki’s Gurgaon plant, Manesar plant, Suzuki Powertrain plant in Manesar and the two-wheeler plant at Kherki Daula. “The wage agreement of Suzuki Motorcycles India Limited is pending from July 2014. Nothing has come out positive even after 40 meetings between the management and union leaders,” Kuldeep Janghu, general secretary of the Maruti Udyog Kamgar Union, told IANS. A few officials visited the workers and assured them of help from the labour department. Officials from the two-wheeler plant could not be contacted despite several efforts. Around 15,000 workers — including 7,000 regular workers — are employed in the four plants. The two-wheeler plant produces 1,400 units daily, while the other three plants produce 5,400-5,500 units a day.
DHL India workers protest at Mumbai Marathon
The protestors used banners and posters at the event to highlight reported victimisation of trade union activists and how the national management breaks the company’s own code of conduct and infringes OECD guidelines for global multinational companies. Union activists say this includes trade unionists being forcibly transferred from their home depots, and hundreds of Indian pick-up and delivery workers being labelled as fake managers and thus deprived of their right to collectively bargain through their unions of choice. In a letter to N Vasudevan, president of the DHL Employees’ Union, the head of employee relations for DHL Express, Anil Khot, accused the union of choosing “to engage in a grave act of betrayal and treachery, taking recourse to direct action of demonstration and agitation, when the company has provided you forum of interaction of discussion and dialogue for resolving any matter across the table”. Khot concludes: “The company reserves its right to take appropriate action against all those workmen involved in accordance with Law.” N Vasudevan told the ITF: “What Mr Khot claims is what DHL does not practice. DHL says couriers are not workers, so there is no question of them having union rights and collective bargaining.” The global ITF/UNI network of DP-DHL unions held its annual conference in Mumbai in November 2014. It issued a resolution calling on DHL India management to immediately cease intimidation and harassment against activists and union officials, suspend all punitive actions, return all forcibly transferred trade unionists back to their home depot, abolish the fake managerial grading system and grant all staff the right to organise and collectively bargain. DHL is one of the global delivery multinationals targeted by the ITF to give its workers across the world a voice to demand the social and employment rights they deserve – find out more about ITF supply chain & logistics.
Unions protest police action on sacked Eveready workers
Haridwar, February 8, 2015 (http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/uttarakhand/unions-protest-police-action-on-sacked-eveready-workers/39575.html)
Various labour unions, political parties and social organisations have come out in support of agitating Eveready employees in the Integrated Industrial Estate at SIDCUL, Roshanabad, 15 km from Haridwar city. The labour unions and representatives of political parties termed as ‘barbaric’ the police lathi charge on more than 100 striking employees yesterday. Eveready management had removed 122 workers recently citing various reasons, including a wage dispute. The employees have been on an agitation near the company premises for the past two months. The Hindu Jagran Manch, at a meeting, condemned the police action and said the employees along with their family members had been on a peaceful agitation in front of the office of District Magistrate but the police under the influence of factory owners removed them. Dharamvir Saini of the Hindu Jagran Manch said exploitation of factory workers would not be tolerated any further. Mazdoor Morcha divisional president of the BJP Chandra Kant Pandey accused the police of forcefully dragging women family members of the protesting employees. The office-bearers of the Ranipur division BJP protested at the Foundry gate of the public sector undertaking BHEL. Demanding department action against the police personnel involved in the cane charge, Samajwadi Party state secretary Taufiq Ahmed said if SSP, Haridwar, Sweety Aggarwal did take action, they would start an agitation. Meanwhile, the SSP denied that the police resorted to a cane charge on the protesting employees. She said the police had arrested protesters who were trying to take law in their hands. “The district court had issued prohibitory orders in 500 metres periphery of the Eveready factory against dharnas, protests or march or use of loudspeakers. The factory manager had filed a case at SIDCUL police station stating that the protesters were hampering the company’s work and forcing other employees to boycott work. The police followed the court order and arrested the protesters trying to create problems,” said Sweety.
Retrenchments, Closures and Mergers of Companies and Violation of Labour Rights
VRS soon for employees of HMT Watches
HMT Watches employees have not received any raise since 1992
Bengaluru, March 12, 2015 (http://www.business-standard.com/article/companies/vrs-soon-for-employees-of-hmt-watches-115031100685_1.html)
The proposal to wind up HMT Watches is likely to be finalised soon. The Bengaluru-based public sector undertaking is readying a voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) for its employees. “There is no official communication from the government on the closure of the watch unit. We are, however, in the process of preparing the VRS package, which will be announced in a month’s time,” S Girish Kumar, chairman and managing director of HMT Ltd, told Business Standard. Though he refused to elaborate, the company needs Rs 400 crore to offer VRS to 1,100 employees, according to sources close to the development. HMT Watches has three units in Bengaluru and Tumakuru in Karnataka and Ranibag in Uttarakhand. The decision to wind up the company came after efforts to revive it failed. HMT Watches has been making losses for the last 15 years. Minister for Heavy Industries Anant Geete announced the decision to close down HMT units in Parliament on Tuesday. The manufacturing of watches, which began in 1961, will cease once the VRS is accepted. “Employees have already given their undertaking for the voluntary retirement proposal subject to it being offered on the 2007 salary,” sources said. Girish Kumar confirmed the company was working out the package on 2007 pay scales. Employees in HMT Watches have not received any hikes since 1992. They are paid once a quarter, according to sources. HMT Watches has a turnover of Rs 6-8 crore and its wage bill is Rs 40 crore annually. Accumulated losses are over Rs 2,500 crore. The last time HMT Watches made a profit was in 1991-92 on a turnover of Rs 280 crore, an employee who did not want to be named said. “Instead of closing down the unit by offering VRS, which costs Rs 400 crore, the company can be revived by infusing Rs 100 crore. The brand has a strong recall among buyers. It should be revived,” an employee of HMT Watches at its corporate office here said. “We are sad to know the government, which is promoting ‘Make in India’, has decided to close down HMT, which is a jewel in the manufacturing sector,” workers at HMT Watches said.
ING Vysya employees protest over merger with Kotak
BENGALURU:Jan 7, 2015 (http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2015-01-07/news/57791601_1_kotak-mahindra-bank-shareholders-proposed-merger)
Employees unions of ING Vysya Bank today staged a protest here with demands for ‘job security’ in the wake of its merger with Kotak Mahindra Bank. The protest was held on a day when ING Vysya Bank has called a shareholders’ meeting here for their approval for the proposed merger. Separately, Kotak Mahindra Bank has also called its shareholders’ meeting in Mumbai today the Rs 15,000-crore merger plan.
2,574 employees asked to leave in Apr-Dec 2014, says TCS
NEW DELHI: Jan 13, 2015 (http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2015-01-13/news/58024600_1_september-quarter-attrition-cent)
Country’s largest software services firm Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has asked 2,574 employees to leave in the first nine months of this fiscal, while the total layoffs in the full year may exceed 3,000. While terming these exits as “involuntary attrition”, TCS claimed it does not plan to initiate any large scale layoffs of any section of its staff in any part of the organisation. “The involuntary attrition for the nine months of this year (April-December) has been 2,574 employees, which represents 0.8 per cent of the total employee strength,” TCS said in statement. At the end of September 30, 2014, TCS had a total headcount of 3,13,757. “The corresponding numbers for FY’14 and FY’13 were 2,203 and 2,132 respectively. The total involuntary attrition for the current fiscal year (ending March 31, 2015) will be around 1 per cent,” it said. On reports that the Mumbai-based firm was looking at a significant performance-related restructuring of workforce, TCS said it has reached out to its employees that these are entirely false and baseless claims. “There have been discussions on various social media forums about alleged large scale layoffs at TCS…we would like to place on record that TCS has not initiated, and is not planning to initiate any large scale exits of any section of its staff in any part of the organisation,” it said. Performance appraisal and associated processes are an integral part of the company’s operations, TCS added. TCS said it has been one of the largest job-creators of the country and it has “consistently” had the highest employee retention in the IT industry. Last month, reports said TCS was looking at restructuring that would affect both onsite and offsite positions across various verticals, even as the company said it is on track to meet hiring target of 55,000 professionals this fiscal. Most affected by the restructuring drive could be middle-to-senior level positions, sources had said, adding that some employees could be offered positions at vendors working with TCS. The country’s largest software exporter with over $13-billion annual turnover employs over 3 lakh people across 46 countries. TCS is due to announce its financial results for the quarter ended December 2014 on January 15. In the September 2014 quarter, the company’s headcount utilisation stood at 86.2 per cent, excluding trainees, while the figure after including trainees was 81.3 per cent. The net addition stood at 8,326 employees during the quarter, while its attrition rate was 12.8 per cent. During the September quarter, TCS had also crossed the milestone of employing one lakh women professionals with a gender diversity ratio of 32.9 per cent. The company’s net profit declined by 5.8 per cent to Rs 5,244 crore in the September quarter of the current fiscal, while revenue rose by 7.7 per cent to Rs 23,816 crore.
GRES workers threaten to protest if not assured jobs
Panaji(Goa) Feb 6, 2015; (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/GRES-workers-threaten-to-protest-if-not-assured-jobs/articleshow/46137832.cms)
The Goa recruitment and employment society (GRES) union workers have restarted their agitation and decided to undertake a marathon day and night protest until the government reinstates the workers or gives a written assurance to do so, said union leader Ajeetsingh Rane. Around 324 GRES workers were employed at G0oa medical college, dental college, Goa institute of psychiatry and human behaviour, Kala Academy, and at the Goa nursing college. But, on February 1, the Goa human resource development corporation replaced these GRES workers with a fresh batch of their own security guards and workers, which lead to fresh protests. “If we don’t get a written assurance we will continue to protest, the option of a hunger strike is also open. We will take our protest to all of Goa,” Rane threatened. When asked whether the government was in a position to give written assurances or to act given that the model code of conduct was in place because of the Panaji bypolls, activist Swati Kerkar pointed out that the model code of conduct had not stopped the government from deputing the GHRDC guards on February 1. On Wednesday, GRES workers demanded that GHRDC reveal the number of applications it received for the posts of security guards and the selection criteria used to appoint them in posts that were “earmarked for GRES employees”. Around 1,200 employees affiliated to the GRES employees’ union have not been paid their salaries since December 2014, Rane claimed. The protesting workers tried to meet GRES and GHRDC officials, besides the chief minister, but were thwarted in their efforts. Around 1,200 employees affiliated to the GRES employees’ union have not been paid their salaries since December 2014, claimed GRES union leader Ajeetsingh Rane.
Foxconn unions concur on exit plan
The original package proposed by the Foxconn management was Rs 2.8 lakh, an offer that ended on February 10.
Chennai, Feb 13, 2015 (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tech/tech-news/Foxconn-unions-concur-on-exit-plan/articleshow/46226191.cms)
After a protracted dispute with the Foxconn management over the closure and severance package, the union members of Foxconn accepted a sweetened separation offer by the management which envisages an average payout of Rs 4.50 lakh per employee. The original package proposed by the Foxconn management was Rs 2.8 lakh, an offer that ended on February 10. In a late night development on Thursday, the union and management accepted the exit terms, (very similar to the exit plan which Nokia offered its employees when it shut down operations) which was mediated by the deputy commissioner of labour of Kancheepuram district, Foxconn management executives and A Soundararajan, honorary president of the left wing Foxconn employees union and CPI (M) MLA from Perumbur in north Chennai. “The only issue which delayed the process was with respect to a similar programme like Nokia’s `Bridge` programme, which Foxconn employees also wanted. That was declined,” a source to the negotiations said. Bridge programme — a skill upgradation programme — offered support and training to those who have worked at the Nokia factory for more than 6 years. “While Nokia was a relatively easy exit, Foxconn was mired in labour disputes primarily because the Foxconn management was not as transparent as Nokia,” union sources told TOI. With this 1,306 direct employees and 168 technicians will bid goodbye to mobile phone manufacturer which shut down in the last week of December due to poor orders. Foxconn came into India in 2006 following its most-important client at that time, Nokia. The company had two units in Sriperumbudur HiTech SEZ and one inside Nokia SEZ. At the peak of its operations, the company employed more than 6,800 people directly inside the Nokia SEZ factory alone. The other two plants in Sriperumbudur HiTech SEZ on the Chennai-Bengaluru highway have already been shut down as Nokia started downsizing its orders to Foxconn over the past two years. Foxconn had planned to make high-end iPhones and iPads off assembly lines in Sriperumbudur in 2010. A combination of poor industrial relations, flurry of trade union activism and lack of political support for business enterprise forced Foxconn, the largest contract manufacturer for Apple, to locate its iPhone and iPad production in Brazil, cutting off the prospect of 80,000 direct jobs in the suburb of Chennai. The end of the road for Foxconn is not a surprise to many. “In India, Foxconn’s fortunes were directly linked to that of Nokia’s. When Nokia started losing its market, orders started to drop for Foxconn and when Nokia shut down its Sriperumbudur plant, Foxconn didn’t have much of a choice,” sources said.
Cement unions denounce merger without workers’ rights
20 January 2015 (http://www.bwint.org/default.asp?Index=5994&Language=EN)
In India, the BWI-affiliated Indian National Cement Workers’ Federation (INCWF), which is the largest federation of cement unions, staged various collective industrial actions to support the BWI demand to accord importance to workers’ rights in the process of negotiations. By including workers and their trade unions, it will ensure continued recognition of unions and existing collective bargaining agreements post-merger. Rallies, demonstrations, workers’ assemblies, distribution of handbills and leaflets, press conferences and media interactions marked the day across INCWF’s 29 cement plants – this included 24 plants of Holcim (15 ACC and 9 Ambuja) and 5 plants of Lafarge in seven key cement producing States i.e. Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. For Deoraj Singh, General Secretary, INCWF: “It is important that we collectively raise our voice to ensure that workers are not deprived of their rights post-merger and the unions are adequately consulted on workers issues in this merger. We at the INCWF through all our plant-level unions across India shall continue to pressurize the two Cement giants for enabling meaningful union representation in the discussions at all levels.”
Contract/Irregular Workers’ Struggles
Contract Workers to Strike Today
BENGALURU: 09th March 2015 (http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/Contract-Workers-to-Strike-Today/2015/03/09/article2705144.ece)
Nearly 1,500 outsourced contract workers of Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) will stage a protest in front of Cauvery Bhavan on Monday over various demands. This protest will, however, not have any bearing on the supply of drinking water in the city, claimed a top official of the department. Karnataka General Labour Union Vice President Mukunda alleged that valve men, drivers, helpers, meter readers and sanitary workers are not given facilities like Employees’ State Insurance, bonus and provident fund. He said the protest was to get these contract employees the same facilities as the permanent employees. “We will continue the protest till the demands are met,” he said. Meanwhile, a top BWSSB official said the union was protesting against recruiting people for various class D posts through advertisements. “They want us to give them weightage and recruit them, but this is not possible,” he said. The official said the labourers hired by BWSSB contractors and the regular employees have been provided the same benefits since January 2014. But they seem to want the benefits with retrospective effect, for which they need to approach the labour court, he added.
Contract workers launch strike
KARNATAKA, February 27, 2015 (http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-karnataka/contract-workers-launch-strike/article6939244.ece)
Contract operators and technicians working with BEML, KGF unit, launched an indefinite strike on Thursday. Hundreds of workers gathered near the factory and raised slogans in support of regularisation of contract operators and technicians, among other things, the CITU-led BEML Contract Workers’ Federation said. Leader of the federation G. Arjunan said these workers are being exploited though they work on a par with regular employees.
Silchar civic employees on strike
SILCHAR, Feb 25 (http://www.assamtribune.com/scripts/detailsnew.asp?id=feb2615/state053)
In sync with the All Assam Civic Bodies Workers Federation (AACBWF), members of the Silchar Municipal Employees Union, an affiliated body of the AACBWF, on Tuesday began their three-day protest programme demanding provincialisation of their service. Paritosh Dey, president of the Silchar Municipal Employees Union said they have been demanding provincialisation of service since 30 years in various phases. But the State Government has paid no heed to their cry, he added. He informed that on September 4, 2013, the government agreed and recommended for departmental approval. He further said that while all the departments had nodded in favour of the demand, the finance department did not agree which delayed the approval in the floor of the Assembly. “The employees are being deprived of service security and basic enmities. The AACBWF had placed the matter before the Chief Minister. Unfortunately no action was taken to solve the stalemate,” Dey said. Interestingly, according to the protesters, they are getting their salaries as per provisions of the Fifth State Pay Commission. Also the agitating employees have alleged that there has been no effort to release the arrear amount, pending since 2010, along with the pension for the retired employees. On the other hand, asked about disruption in public service because of their protest, the union president said the government is responsible for the inconvenience as they had already intimidated the government about their protest two weeks ago. “But the government failed to respond due to which they had no options but to launch the phase one of their protest,” he said.
1,300 workers to step up stir against Jaypee
Demands: A hike in wages on a par with SJVNL counterparts Regularisation of workers Implementation of labour laws
Shimla, Mar 8 2015, (http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/1-300-workers-to-step-up-stir-against-jaypee/50645.html)
As many as 1,300 workers of Karcham-Wangtoo and Baspa hydropower projects of Jaypee power company took a pledge to put a “tilak” of blood to express their solidarity. The workers, who assembled at Tapri, decided to continue the agitation and give a befitting reply to the measures of the management to sabotage the agitation. “We will fight injustice till the last breath and not succumb to any pressure and intimidation”, said union leader Jeevan Singh Negi. Workers, including 815 daily wagers, are demanding a hike in wages on a par with SJVNL counterparts, regularisation of workers and implementation of labour laws. Senior Himachal CPM leader Rakesh Singh, who is supporting the agitation, said the labour laws were being flouted by the Jaypee management and even the no-objection certificate (NOC) for construction from the tribal villages had not been obtained and the Labour Department had remained a mute spectator. He alleged that more than 100 persons had died and even the FIRs were not registered in all cases. Citing an example of Nirmal Singh, who died on April 2009 at the IGMC, Shimla, after being fallen while at work, Singha said a memorandum submitted to the Deputy Commissioner Kinnaur. Workers had demanded an inquiry into the incident as the post-mortem was not conducted and even the medical report was fiddled with. The people are demanding justice for the families of the workers who died while working on the project, he added. He appealed to MLAs of both BJP and Congress to raise the issue in the Vidhan Sabha. Moreover, as per the policy of the government, the project management is supposed to spend 1 per cent of the cost on the local area development and the amount has to be deposited with the government.
KU outsourcing workers protest
Kurukshetra, March 24 (http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/community/ku-outsourcing-workers-protest/58126.html)
A large number of outsourcing workers of the Kurukshetra University led by the leaders of the Sarva Karmachari Sangh (SKS), Haryana, today held a demonstration seeking their pending salaries and action against the university administration and contractors. The employees gathered at a park near the new bus stand. They took out a protest march and raised slogans against the university administration and the state government. They reached near the Mini-Secretariat, where the police had placed barricades to stop them. The outsourcing workers said if their salaries were not cleared by Monday, they would offer court arrest. However, they suspended their call following assurance of action by Superintendent of Police Simardeep Singh. SKS state chief Dharambeer Phogat said: “Over 1,400 outsourcing employees have been sacked and their salaries of four to six months are pending.” The SP said: “They have submitted a memorandum and have sought action against the university administration. Deputy Superintendent of Police Gurmail Singh is investigating the matter and action will be taken according to the report.”
HAU safai workers’ strike enters 3rd day
Haryana: 12 March 2015 (http://www.iamin.in/en/hisar/news/hau-safai-workers-strike-enters-3rd-day-54998)
Safai workers of Haryana Agricultural University (HAU) continued their strike for the third day on Thursday. They have been protesting opposite the University’s administrative house against the university administration for its failure to fulfil their demands. “We had called on strike earlier also and the administration had assured to fulfil our demands. But nothing has been done till date. We will continue to protest till our demands are met,” said union president Atmaram Bagdi and Indra Singh Tank, who led the dharna.
The demands of the safai workers include:
Safai workers should be provided with all cleaning equipments and other facilities on time
The workers should immediately be given SP scale arrears.
150 employees should be appointed as soon as possible for cleaning.
The X pass or employees with higher education should be given promotion
All employees appointed on contractual basis should be provided minimum wage/salary.
The employees should be provided with salary slips.
The employees, who were appointed on contract basis earlier and removed from the job should be called back to their job and should be provided their salary till date.
Transport Trade unions demand for Job Permanency
CHENNAI, March 13, 2015 (http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/trade-unions-firm-on-demand/article6988411.ece)
Representatives of Transport Department’s trade unions were firm on their demand for job permanency, issues related to wages of workers on contract and increase in stipend of staff recruited on compassionate grounds during the second round of talks with government officials on Thursday. The representatives also wanted the government to provide alternative employment to bus drivers whose licences were suspended after fatal accidents. “They can be posted temporarily in other departments till they get their licences back from the department,” said K. Natarajan, treasurer of Labour Progressive Federation. On Thursday, the discussion between representatives of 41 trade unions and the 14- member committee started around 11 a.m. The meeting was headed by Transport Secretary T. Prabhakara Rao. “Everything will be part of the final settlement. We have to discuss with the Finance Department certain demands,” an official said. The next round of talks will be held on March 20 at the same venue. As the earlier meeting on March 2 ended in violence, heavy police protection was arranged at the Metropolitan Transport Corporation’s training centre in Chromepet, where the meeting took place.
CATS staff on contract protest outsourcing
New Delhi: Jan 20, 2015 (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/CATS-staff-on-contract-protest-outsourcing/articleshow/45948378.cms)
Around 240 contractual paramedics and 370 contractual drivers of Centralized Accidents and Trauma Services (CATS) went on a strike on Monday to protest against outsourcing of the ambulance operation in the capital. The regular staff also supported the protest though they didn’t join it. Many ambulances went off the road and, in some cases, the hospitals had to request the patient parties to arrange for their own vehicles. “I called for CATS ambulance twice but there was no response. Finally I had to rush my uncle in an auto to the hospital,” said Neeraj Kumar, a resident of Malviya Nagar in south Delhi. CATS has 152 ambulances, including 21 advanced life support (ALS), 10 basic life support (BLS) and 121 patient transporting vehicles. Sources said that less than 50 ambulances were operational on Monday and help was taken from Delhi Police PCR vans to continue the service. “We are against the tender floated by government to outsource the operation and maintenance of its CATS ambulance service,” said a contractual employee. Sources said discussions were held between the director of CATS and contractual staff on Sunday during which the latter was assured that they would continue under the direct contract engagement of CATS. However, the employees demanded complete rollback. “Contract staff will continue under the administrative control of CATS as clearly mentioned in the expression of interest that has been floated. There is no way they will lose their job,” said N Vasantha Kumar, director, CATS. The health department on January 9 floated a tender to outsource operations of CATS.
Contract workers threaten march to Assembly
PANJIM (Goa), 04 Mar, 2015 (http://www.heraldgoa.in/Goa/Contract-workers-threaten-march-to-Assembly/85595.html)
Hundreds of striking contract workers affiliated to Goa Trade Unions’ Confederation have threatened to march to the State Legislative Assembly during the ensuing budget session, if the government fails to reinstate them and regularize services of the three groups of employees. Security guards under the banner of Goa Recruitment and Employment Society (GRES) are on an indefinite protest since the first week of February, while the employees of 108 Emergency Services too are on an indefinite strike since February 15. Now, nearly 145 workers of the Directorate of Sports and Youth Affairs Employees Union are planning to go on a token fast from March 14. The workers have resolved to demonstrate before the office of Directorate of Sports and Youth Affairs on March 10, and hold a day-long dharna at Campal on March 12. A day-long token fast would be held on March 14 followed by a rally in the city on March 16. Addressing media persons Tuesday, Union president Ajeetsingh Rane said that the workers would march to the Assembly during the budget session, which starts March 23, against what they called the BJP-government’s anti-worker policies. “We will make sure that our voices are heard by all the 40 MLAs,” Rane said. He has also demanded that the State Labour Commission should take suo moto cognizance of anti-labour practices of government and act accordingly. Around 145 daily wage workers employed with Directorate of Sports and Youth Affairs were terminated from service on October 1, 2014. They had joined the service in 2011. After a long agitation, the workers were assured by then chief minister Manohar Parrikar that they would be reinstated within two months. However, till date they have not been reinstated.
Union Initiatives among IT workers
Trade unions want white paper on hiring, appraisals in IT industry
HYDERABAD, FEB 11, 2015 (HTTP://WWW.THEHINDUBUSINESSLINE.COM/FEATURES/SMARTBUY/TECH-NEWS/TRADE-UNIONS-WANT-WHITE-PAPER-ON-HIRING-APPRAISALS-IN-IT-INDUSTRY/ARTICLE6882336.ECE)
The Republican Party of India (RPI) and several trade unions have asked the IT firms to come out with white papers on the recruitment process and appraisal systems periodically. “There is no transparency in the hiring and appraisal activities in the IT industry. The IT firms must be asked to submit white papers on these processes to the Government and to the public periodically. The Government regulate these processes,” Tamil Nazar, Co-ordinator of the Forum for IT Employees (FITE), has said. He said this while addressing a press conference here on Wednesday along with the leaders of the RPI, Centre of Indian Trade Unions, All-India Trade Union Congress, Indian Federation of Trade Unions, All-India Federation of Trade Unions (AIFTU). They opposed large-scale lay-offs in Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). He said the clauses in the contracts were illegal and the employees were not being allowed to form unions to fend for their rights. R Sudha Bhaskar, National Secretary of CITU, said that the IT firms enjoyed several financial benefits from tax payers’ money but deny rights to the employees.
Trade union starts IT employees wing, asks techies to join
CHENNAI: Jan 11, 2015 (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/Trade-union-starts-IT-employees-wing-asks-techies-to-join/articleshow/45838832.cms)
Apprehending unrest in the Indian information technology (IT) industry, New Democratic Labour Front (NDLF), has joined trade unions like the left-wing CITU, right-wing BMS and the Congress-backed INTUC wooing IT employees. NDLF inaugurated its IT Employees Wing on Saturday and urged techies to join them to achieve collective bargaining strength. “Almost 10,000 IT employees have engaged with us through the web and telephone. We want to urge these employees to join the IT union started by us for their benefit,” P Vijayakumar, state treasurer of NDLF and co-ordinator of the IT employees wing said. In the last few weeks, various labour unions have been mobilizing IT employees who had so far remained untouched by trade union activity after reports of mass retrenchments by TCS. A few weeks ago, TCS said it would send home “non-performers”. While agitating techies say TCS was retrenching more than 25,000 workers, the tech giant maintains that it will send home not more than 3,000 as part of its “workforce restructuring” and this is nothing out of the ordinary. An IT employee said the workers should come together to protect their rights since companies have industrial bodies to represent their issues. He said he was keen to join a union that works for their cause. Labour activists say unions never took off in the IT industry since employees themselves stayed away for the fear of being blacklisted. Mythili B, a techie in the city, said though social media is abuzz with the issue of lay-offs, there is neither fear nor empathy at work place regarding the issue. Industry sources claim that entry of unions could be a huge blow to the knowledge-based IT sector which is a complete contrast to the manufacturing industry. They believe that unionization by people who did not understand its operations could do more harm than good.
Textiles and Garments
Sircilla powerloom weavers’ strike enters sixth day
KARIMNAGAR, TELANGANA , January 4, 2015 (http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/sircilla-powerloom-weavers-strike-enters-sixth-day/article6751832.ece?ref=sliderNews)
The indefinite strike launched by the powerloom weavers of Sircilla textile town demanding increase in wages entered the sixth day on Saturday. The AITUC and CITU trade unions had called for the indefinite strike demanding increase in wages of powerloom weavers from the existing Rs. 0.17 paise per 10 pics to Rs. 0.30 paise per 10 pics of fabric produced in the loom. The other demands are bonus for weavers and eight-hour working shift. The strike has cast a shadow on the entire textile town with those working in allied sectors going without work since five days. After the launch of the strike, the Labour Department held consultations with the powerloom owners asking them to address weavers’ problems. But the latter firmly said that they would review wages only after three months as they were already in deep crisis. Samalla Mallesham, president of AITUC affiliated to powerloom workers’ union, said weavers have lost their wages following the indefinite strike and they were unable to borrow money outside. He feared that micro-finance companies would enter the textile town and further increase difficulties for the weavers.
Hosiery manufacturers voice against fixation of minimum rates of wages
TIRUPUR, January 26, 2015 (http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/hosiery-manufacturers-voice-against-fixation-of-minimum-rates-of-wages/article6822810.ece)
Hosiery manufacturers in Tirupur cluster have voiced against any further fixation of minimum rates of wages for workers in the hosiery sector here. The opposition comes in the wake of the initiation of process by the authorities concerned in the State who had constituted a committee for revision of minimum wages for employment in hosiery sector after a gap of over five decades. South India Hosiery Manufacturers Association president A. C. Eswaran told The Hindu that besides the fact that the said committee did not even have a representative from our association, the major representative body for hosiery manufacturers in the entire South India, there was no need for fixing minimum wage rates at a time when wage revision pact were signed frequently in clusters like Tirupur. “If the rate is fixed at the government level, the revision comes only after a long gap like in the last case. Whereas, we are already giving upward revision to the workers once in four years and the continuation of this system is essential for smooth working relationship and camaraderie between the employers and the workers,” he said. According to the entrepreneurs here, fixation of minimum wages for any industry could arise only when the industrial establishment concerned have no negotiating machinery with workmen or their unions for periodic revision of wages. “In the main hosiery clusters like Tirupur, agreements are signed on wages for specific periods and on its expiry, fresh negotiations and settlement were made before the Labour Department officials as per the provisions stipulated by the Industrial Disputes Act. So, the minimum wage fixation is not needed at all,” pointed out the hosiery unit owners.
Demonstration by powerloom workers
SALEM (TN), January 22, 2015 (http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/demonstration-by-powerloom-workers/article6810381.ece)
The members of the CITU Powerloom Workers Union staged a demonstration in front of the Samiampalayam panchayat office near here on Monday urging the government to withdraw the recent steep power tariff hike. The demonstration was also in support of the powerloom units which are on strike for the above demand. More than 25,000 workers are employed in the powerloom units Namakkal, Salem and Komarapalayam. The steep hike in the power tariff had badly hit the powerloom units, and in turn the livelihood of the hundreds of workers employed in them. The powerloom unit owners are on indefinite strike demanding the withdrawal of the hike. The Katheri branch of the CITU Powerloom Workers Union staged the demonstration in support of the powerloom unit owners strike. M. Marimuthu, secretary of the union, led the agitation, when K. C. Gopi, Salem district president of the union and others spoke highlighting the demand.
Tea workers struggle
Centre urged to regulate tea wages- Assam MP seeks amendment to act
New Delhi, March 18 (http://www.telegraphindia.com/1150319/jsp/frontpage/story_9519.jsp#.VRJV5fyUeVl)
The cup that cheers proved to be hotter than expected for the government today as it came under pressure to amend a central act to regularise wages of tea labourers. Congress MP from Assam Pankaj Bora demanded a timeframe within which the government would amend the Plantations Labour Act to ensure protection for tea garden workers. The question came up in the Rajya Sabha when labour and employment minister Bandaru Dattatreya, replying to Bora’s question on whether the government was examining the proposal to increase the wages of tea garden workers from Rs 94 to Rs 330, said the wages were decided by state governments.
This prompted Bora to raise the issue of amendment to the central act as he urged the Centre to intervene to protect tea garden workers. Conceding that tea garden labourers were exploited and Bora’s concerns over the need to raise wages were valid, Dattatreya said the government was examining a proposal received from the ministry of commerce and industry to amend the act. “The proposed amendments are being examined,” he said. The commerce ministry’s amendments aim to ensure, among other things, the welfare of workers. Dattatreya said the views of various ministries and states, including the ministries of panchayati raj and rural development and the states of West Bengal and Assam, had been received. The minimum wages of tea garden labourers varies in the tea-growing states. Even within Assam, a major producer of tea, wages are different in the gardens of Brahmaputra and Barak valleys. The wage agreement between Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha and the Consultative Committee of Plantations Associations, Assam Valley Branch, for daily wage labourers of the tea industry dated March 1, 2012 expired on December 31 last year. The ACMS had placed its demand for revision of wages and after discussions the new wage structure for 2015 was fixed at Rs 115, to be increased to Rs 126 next year and Rs 137 in 2017. Bora found support in Trinamul MP D. Bhattacharya who said variable dearness allowance should be a component of the workers’ wages. CPM leader Sitaram Yechury also supported Bora’s concerns. “It is a long-standing demand for a central act to accord them (workers) protection,” said Yechury. He said cases of suicide by tea garden workers had been reported from West Bengal.
Revised wages inadequate, say tea workers
KOLKATA, March 6, 2015 (http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/revised-wages-inadequate-say-tea-workers/article6966900.ece)
Describing the recent hike in wages of tea garden workers in Darjeeling and Dooars as inadequate, several trade unions have said that the problem of malnutrition and starvation would continue in the tea plantations of West Bengal. A tripartite wage agreement signed on February 20, 2015, fixed a raise of Rs. 37.50 per day (in phases over three years) to tea plantation workers in Terai and Dooars and Rs. 42.50 to workers in Darjeeling. The daily wage before the agreement was Rs. 95. The agreement was between the State, planter’s associations and workers’ unions. “Workers will therefore be paid a miserly amount of Rs. 112.50 [per day] in the first year, Rs.122.50 in the second year and finally Rs. 132.50 in the third year. By no logic can such an increase be justified,” said a statement issued by Progressive Plantation Workers Union (PPWU), which had refused to sign the agreement. Kiran Kalindi, president of the PPWU, said that the minimum wage declared by State government for the agricultural sector is Rs. 206 per day at present. “The agreement comes after almost a year-long tripartite wage negotiation process and is far from what the workers of tea plantations demanded,” said Debjit Dutta, a trade union activist working with several tea garden unions. Another statement, jointly issued by many groups working with unorganised sector workers, pointed out that the revision won’t end the crisis.
Tea group workers threat hunger strike for pending dues before first flush
DARJEELING, 15 Mar 2015 (http://echoofindia.com/darjeeling-tea-group-workers-threat-hunger-strike-pending-dues-first-flush-80571)
Workers of three tea gardens under the Alchemist Group of India have threatened to go on a hunger strike from March 20, to press upon the management to clear dues of Rs.5 crore that have accumulated since the past one year. According to the Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union (DTDPLU) affiliated to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), the management had failed to pay dues which included provident fund and gratuity of workers for one year, distribution of ration and LTA. “The workers of the three tea gardens have not got their PF and gratuity for the past one year. And ration and other facilities have been denied to them by the management. In all dues worth Rs.5 crore have accumulated,” DTDPLU general secretary Suraj Subba said on Sunday. The Alchemist Group of India owns the Dootriah, Kalej Valley and Pesokh tea gardens which produces orthodox and china tea leafs that are exported to countries like Germany, Austria, Singapore, UAE and the USA. The plantation areas of the three gardens are spread across 756 hectares. The trade union was also critical about the attitude of the garden management alleging they had failed to turn up in meetings to discuss the issue. “On February 24 we had invited the company management to discuss the issue but they did not turn up. On previous occasions too we tried to hold talks. But each time the management gave us no response. Under such a circumstance we have no other option but to a start hunger strike program to get the attention of the management,” Subba said. With the company management not paying heed to their demand, workers of the three tea gardens in February had called staged a “pen down” strike, but later resumed work. “We have called a meeting again on March 19 at the assistant labour commissioner’s office in Darjeeling to sort out the issue. If, the management does not turn up then we will start our agitation from the next day,” warned Subba. The management of the three tea gardens could not be contacted for their response on the hunger strike threat, but Darjeeling Tea Association (DTA) principal advisor Sandeep Mukherjee, said over the phone from Siliguri that he had not received any communication regarding the meeting on March 19. “We have not received any information about the meeting. However having said that we appeal to the trade union to not start the hunger strike as it will affect the first flush plucking season. We will try to sort out the matter through talks,” he said. Plucking for the first flush that fetches premium price in international market starts in March that goes on till May. Then after a gap of 15-20 days the second flush plucking starts in the Hills. However, the first flush in earnest has not started because of irregular rainfall this year. At least three inches of rain are required for plucking to start.The Dootriah tea garden has 1200 workers while Kalej Valley and Pesokh have 642 and 570, respectively with a collective production of 450,000 kg of Darjeeling tea leaf, annually. (EOIC)
Domestic workers struggle
Domestic workers demand fixed wages in Madurai
MADURAI, Feb 17, 2015 (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/madurai/Domestic-workers-demand-fixed-wages-in-Madurai/articleshow/46268190.cms)
Members of a domestic workers union are threatening to go on a state-wide strike and carry out protests, reasserting their long-pending demand for minimum wages. The fresh call comes as the state assembly session is scheduled to begin from Tuesday. Members, mostly women, belonging to the Tamil Nadu Domestic Workers Union alleged that domestic workers were being paid a paltry amount due to the absence of law protecting their wages. The struggle for minimum wages has been going on for last seven years. The government came forward to create a law in this regard during an assembly session in 2010, but the efforts reached nowhere. At that time, after a state-level consultation, workers decided on a minimum wage of Rs 30 per hour. Now, however, they are demanding at least Rs 70 per hour. There are roughly 18 lakh domestic workers in the state, but hardly 75,000 people have registered with the association so far. In Madurai alone, there are only 1,500 registered workers, although there are estimated one lakh domestic workers in the district. “Our work involves washing, cooking, cleaning and taking care of children and adults in the absence of caretakers. Although the need for domestic helps is increasing, especially in cities, the wages continue to be poor. If there is an Act ensuring basic wages, it would be of great help. If the government does not listen to our demands and pass an Act, we will go on strike and stage protests throughout the state,” said P Clara, coordinator of the union. “We are paid just Rs 40 per hour for strenuous works like cooking and washing and keeping the house clean. The price of essential things is soaring and we cannot make ends meet. We should be given bonus during Diwali, but we get scolded when we ask for it. We cannot do anything,” said R Pechiammmal, a domestic worker. “Domestic workers have to face innumerable problems like harassment, non-payment of wages and sexual exploitation. We do not know where to make grievances. When police is approached, they always support the employers. Whenever there is a theft or crime, domestic workers are suspected first and their whole family is tortured,” Clara said. “There should be a separate committee in all districts to address the grievances of unorganised workers, including domestic helps where we can take our complaints about non-payment of wages and harassment,” she added.
Domestic Workers’ Union Rally for Justice for the Murdered Maid
Patna, 10 Jan 2015 (http://www.patnadaily.com/index.php/news/10346-domestic-workers-union-rally-for-justice-for-the-murdered-maid.html)
Bihar Domestic Workers’ Union in Patna on Friday took out a rally demanding justice for the 12-year old girl who was allegedly tortured and murdered by her employer Geeta Singh in Patna a couple of days ago. Demanding the arrest of Singh, who is being sought in the torture and murder of her maid Sumitra, dozens of domestic helps marched through the roads of Patna arriving at the Dak Bungalow Crossing where they asked for Rs. 10 lakh for the victim’s family members. As reported, Sumitra, the daughter of Lal Bahadur Mistry and Manju Devi of Sohdih village in Sheikhpura district under Ariyari police station, had been employed as domestic help at the home of Geeta Singh in Patna since last October. Last Wednesday, Geeta Singh called Sumitra’s parents and told them that their daughter had been sick. When the parents arrived in Patna, Singh told them that their daughter had to be admitted in the ICU at a Patna hospital. She further told them to go back to their village and she would send their daughter to her village in an ambulance. However, when the ambulance arrived at the village, the parents found Sumitra dead with signs of extreme physical brutality, including burn marks in her body, broken teeth and broken arms. Investigating the case, when Patna Superintendent of Police (SP) Shivdeep Lande arrived at her flat in the Nilambar Apartment, they found the home locked and the residents long gone. Authorities are conducting raids to apprehend Geeta Devi. Lande said that he was hoping the accused would soon give herself up before the police. “If she does not surrender, police would start the proceedings to seize her properties and may even take Geeta Singh’s son and daughter, who are said to be studying Delhi and Kanpur respectively, in custody for questioning.
India doesn’t ratify ILO convention on domestic workers:Govt
New Delhi March 18, 2015 (http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/india-doesn-t-ratify-ilo-convention-on-domestic-workers-govt-115031800736_1.html)
India has not ratified International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention on decent work for domestic workers as the national laws and practices are not in conformity with the provisions laid down by the global agency, Parliament was informed today. “Government of India has not ratified ILO Convention No.189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers,” Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya said in a written reply to Rajya Sabha. Elaborating further he said, “In India we ratify an ILO Convention only when the national laws and practices are brought fully into conformity with the provisions of the Convention in question. “Since the national laws and practices are not in conformity with the provisions of the convention, India has not yet ratified the ILO Convention No.189.” About National Policy on Domestic Workers, he informed the House that the Policy is under active consideration of the government. However, no time frame has been indicated to finalise the Policy, Dattatreya said. He said, “The domestic work falls under the purview of state sphere. It is primarily the responsibility of states governments to take action for protecting people including domestic workers from exploitation.” The central government has enacted the Unorganised Sector Social Security Act, 2008 for providing social security to unorganised workers including domestic workers. Minimum wages have been fixed for domestic workers by a number of states. Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) benefits have also been extended to various categories of workers including domestic workers, he added. In another reply, the minister informed the House that as many as 1.79 lakh irregularities were detected under the Minimum Wage Act, till December this fiscal, compared to 2.7 lakh in 2013-14 and 2.9 lakh in 2012-13 under the central sphere. As per minister’s statement, the number of convictions under the Act was 1,041 during this fiscal till December compared to 5,074 in 2013-14 and 4,954 in 2012-13. As many as 1,790 prosecutions were started during the current fiscal till December compared to 5,167 in 2013-14 and 5,307 in 2012-13. The number of inspections conducted under the Act in central sphere were 4,852 till December 2014-15 as against 13,099 in 2013-14 and 15,550 in 2012-13.
Beedi Workers Struggle
Beedi workers oppose amendment to COTPA
UDUPI/MANGALURU (KARNATAKA), March 18, 2015 (http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-karnataka/beedi-workers-oppose-amendment-to-cotpa/article7005791.ece)
Beedi workers, affiliated to the Centre of Indian Trade Unions and the All India Trade Unions Congress, took out a procession and staged a dharna in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office here on Tuesday against the Union government’s move to amend the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Product Act, (COTPA) 2003. Addressing protestors here, Balakrishna Shetty, secretary of the district unit of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), said that there were nearly 10 lakh beedi workers in the State. Most of them did not have identity cards, log-books and other mandatory facilities.
In Mangaluru, beedi workers from different parts of the district marched from Town Hall to the office of the Deputy Commissioner where a protest meeting was held. Addressing the protestors, Centre of Indian Trade Union’s representative Prasanna said the present Bill to amend COTPA will destroy beedi industry in the region. AITUC State Secretary Seetharam Beerinje said the government was not paying heed to the problems.
On Women’s Day, Rampur beedi workers get little respite
RAMPUR, Mar 7, 2015 (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bareilly/On-Womens-Day-Rampur-beedi-workers-get-little-respite/articleshow/46487484.cms)
As the world celebrates the 107th International Women’s Day, few will spare a thought for the thousands of women in Rampur district engaged in rolling beedis. The women earn a measly sum of Rs 90 for rolling 1,000 beedis. In local parlance, these women are called “beedi mazdoor” – beedi workers. Their work leaves them constantly exposed to the dust of tobacco, and at heightened risk of bronchitis and TB. Many of the women function from home, leaving them no way of escaping the constant presence of tobacco. The industrialists who gather up the beedis and sell them under a brand name, though, make a killing. Since beedi-rolling is done mostly at home, many of the women would have learned how to roll out beedis as children. At the time of marriage, prospective husbands and their families feel proud to add to their families a woman who brings home an income. Rukhsana, 30, learned to roll beedis when she was just seven years old. Her mother rolled them out too. After she married, she continued to roll out beedis. Her husband, an embroidery worker, earns a modest income, and the family of seven – with three daughters and two sons – is dependent on Rukhsana’s earnings too. Her eldest son, now 12 years old, is mentally retarded. Rukhsana says she is undergoing treatment for tuberculosis at the district hospital, Rampur. There are treatment expenses to meet. She has to roll out beedis faster to meet her family’s needs. She is paid the standard Rs 90 for 1,000 beedis, but in her hurry to make the numbers, sometimes, she slips up. Some of her beedis are rejected, and then she cannot expect to make even Rs 90 a day. Rukhsana is not alone. In the Nala-Paar (across the drain) locality of Rampur, hundreds of women like her live off beedi-making skills. Each beedi is made with care – the tobacco has to be placed inside the dried tendu leaf just right, rolled tight, and secured with a thread. The tips are closed using a sharp knife. The women work about 14 hours a day. The middle-man pays the woman a standard rate. “The tobacco dust has caused me to get TB. Doctors say I might need some donated blood. I know my days are numbered, but I would like my children to grow up healthy, strong and secure. Whatever we earn, however, is spent in just our daily needs,” Rukhsana told TOI. Rukhsana added she has had to sell some of her crockery to get by, since getting sick with TB. 25-year-old Sadaf Khan runs a little unit of beedi makers. There are about 30 women – and many children — working in the open-air premises, located on the outskirts of the city. The rolled beedis are placed in a bamboo tray, called ‘sufa’. Some of the women sway, rocking back and forth as they roll the beedis. While the younger ones work with alacrity, the older women, with the tremors in their hands, find it rather more difficult to roll out neat beedis. Naeema Khatoon, 40, says politicians have made their career starting out as champions of the beedi workers. “Azam Khan (cabinet minister) started his career with the cause of the beedi mazdoors. He made sentimental speeches, but we have no assistance from him or the state government.” Khatoon added that far more than broad roads and sprawling parks, politicians need to look at the plight of women in beedi-making, who suffer from bronchitis and tuberculosis. Firasat Khan, who has served as president of the beedi mazdoor union for the past 30 years, said, “I have witnessed how the fingers of the beedi makers get deformed, from long years of doing that work.” Khan recalled that when Azam Khan became labour minister in 1989, payment to the beedi workers was increased from Rs 8 to Rs 16 for 1,000 beedis. That was the last official hike. PK Rai, labour commissioner, Moradabad division, told TOI, “The office of the Central Labour Welfare Commissioner of Northern India is in Allahabad. There are several schemes for beedi workers, covering health and housing loans. But getting to Allahabad from Rampur is not easy for these women.”
‘Fulfil promises made to beedi workers’
NIZAMABAD, TELANGANA, January 13, 2015 (http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/fulfil-promises-made-to-beedi-workers/article6783264.ece)
CPI(M) threatens to lay siege to the Assembly
The CPI (M) State secretary Tammineni Veerabhadram has warned the government that the Left parties and trade unions would lay siege to the Assembly if it fails to implement the demands of beedi workers immediately. Addressing the huge public meeting of beedi workers held under the banner of Beedi and Cigar Workers’ Union affiliated to Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), here on Monday, he said that the TRS chief K. Chandrasekhar Rao before the elections had wooed the beedi workers with the promise of Rs.1,000 pension per month to every beedi worker and got their votes. The TRS swept the elections in the district only with the support of beedi workers as they were in considerable numbers in all the nine Assembly constituencies, he said and added that the Congress was defeated as it failed to keep its promise to implement the payment of minimum wages after issuing the G.O No. 41. “Therefore, I want to appeal to the present Chief Minister not to invite the same fate if he wishes to have the support of scores of beedi workers. The Congress Government buckling under the pressure of managements of beedi companies kept the G.O. No.41 in abeyance by bringing another G.O in its place,” said Mr. Veerabhadarm. Saying that the CPI (M) would always extend support to working classes in all their agitations for the betterment of life, he said over three lakh families of beedi workers would get benefitted if the Chief Minister kept his promise. The CPI (M) district secretary Dandi Venkati who presided over the meeting said that the beedi workers under the aegis of the union would wage relentless struggles until their demands were met with. Party leaders P. Venkatramulu, A. Ramesh, Noorjahan, Govardhan and others were present. Earlier they took out a motorcycle rally from Rajiv Gandhi Auditorium to Collectorate. A large number of beedi workers arrived from all parts of the district participated in the meeting.
Women beedi workers stage dharna
Karimnagar Special Correspondent adds: Women beedi workers have staged a massive dharna in front of Collectorate here on Monday demanding that the government provide dearness allowance of Rs. 1,000 per month to all the beedi workers in Telangana state. Stating that Chief Minister Chandrasekhar Rao had announced during the elections that he would provide DA of Rs 1,000 per month to all beedi workers, they demanded the government to fulfil the promise as the beedi industry was reeling under crisis. They also urged the government to ensure that the beedi workers get 26 days of employment.
ASHA/Anganwadi/Panchayat workers Struggles
ASHA Workers March to Parliament
2nd March 2015, Delhi (http://www.citucentre.org/index.php/component/k2/item/74-asha-workers-march-to-parliament)
Despite the pouring rain since the last 24 hours, over four thousand ASHA workers from 13 states, under the CITU banner, demonstrated before Parliament on 2nd March 2015, raising slogans relating to their demands for regularisation as government health workers, for minimum wages, for better service conditions, etc. At Jantar Mantar they held a meeting, inaugurated by the CITU President, A K Padmanabhan, and addressed by Brinda Karat ex MP of the CPI(M), Shankar Datta, CPI(M) MP, and CITU Secretary AR Sindhu on behalf of the AIFAWH and Mid Day Meal Workers Coordination Committee. Maimoona Mollah of AIDWA and Krishna Prasad, from the All India Kisan Sabha expressed their solidarity with the ASHA workers and their struggle. Tapan Sen, General Secretary CITU, and Rajya Sabha MP, led a delegation comprising of Ranjana Nirula, VV Presenna Kumari, Sunita Bhagat and Prevesh to meet Shri JP Nadda, Minister for Health and Family Welfare. The Minister was unable to give any concrete assurance regarding fulfilment of the demands in the memorandum submitted to him, but assured the delegation that he would look into their grievances. The delegation also protested against the 25% cutback in allocation for the NHM in the Budget. Tapan Sen greeted the workers and congratulated them for their militant struggles for their rights. Under the National Health Mission, almost 9 lakh ASHA/USHA workers are working all over the country. Their notable contribution in the health system has been acknowledged by several committees. The CITU has developed unions of this section of workers in nearly all states of the country and raised their demands regarding their working and service conditions. The working conditions and emoluments of these workers are a matter of serious concern. Different studies have stated that policy level responses of the Government are inadequate and the present incentive system and payment mode is not commensurate with the important contribution made in the health sector by these workers. However, even the January 2014 government circular improving incentive rates, has not yet been implemented yet, in most of the states. The Parliamentary Committee on Empowerment of Women (2009-10) and the Mission Steering Group of the NRHM, recommended monthly remuneration for these workers, along with its other recommendations. In addition, the 45th Indian Labour Conference recommended that they should be recognized as workers; be paid minimum wages; and they should get all social security benefits, etc. It is most unfortunate that the Government has taken no action on these recommendations.ASHA workers have become an indispensable part of the rural health system but the minimum basic needs of these workers being denied and several representations to the Central Government have failed. The workers are now on the streets, agitating on the following demands:
• ASHA/USHA workers should be regularised as ‘ Health Workers’
• They should be paid minimum wages of Rs. 15,000 per month as has been demanded jointly by the Central Trade Unions.
• They should get all social security benefits like pension, gratuity, maternity benefits, etc.
• Pending regularization as health workers, they should be paid a fixed monthly remuneration equivalent to the statutory minimum wage for skilled workers in the respective states, in addition to the specified incentives.
• The NHM should be made a permanent health programme of the government, with universal application and adequate financial allocation.
• The allocation for public health services should be increased to at least 5% of the GDP.
• The ASHA/USHA workers should be covered in various schemes available for workers like Aam Admi Bima Yojana, Rashtriya Swastha Bima Yojana.
• All the incentives should be paid on time, on a regular basis and through bank/post office accounts.
• Harassment of ASHA/USHA should be checked through setting up of an appropriate mechanism.
• Rest rooms for ASHA/USHA workers should be provided in all health centres.
• They should be given uniforms, ID cards, bus passes, and all facilities applicable to BPL card holders.
• Facilitators/Coordinators should be recruited only from the existing ASHA/USHA workers
• ASHA/USHA workers should be given appropriate training, with 10% reservation in Nursing colleges for them.
• ASHA/USHA workers should be promoted as ANMs after training.
• Government health facilities and infrastructure should be improved on a priority basis.
• Privatisation of the public health system should be reversed.
If the government does not take measures to fulfil the demands, the Coordination Committee of ASHA workers has given a call to intensify their agitation, including going on strike.It has given a call to organise protest demonstrations and burn the effigies within 15 March 2015 at local level and also to join the CITU protest against the anti worker Union Budget 2015-16.
25 CITU protesters taken into custody
ONGOLE (AP), March 18, 2015 (http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-andhrapradesh/25-citu-protesters-taken-into-custody/article7005002.ece)
As many as 25 leaders of the CITU and its affiliate All-India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers (AIFAWH) were taken into preventive custody when they blocked vehicular traffic on the arterial trunk road here on Tuesday. Hundreds of CPI (M)-affiliated CITU and AIFAWH activists assembled at the Church Centre and squatted on the trunk road in protest against the arrest of their fellow workers proceeding to Hyderabad. As many as 148 AIFAWH activists who embarked on ‘Chalo Assembly’ were arrested across the Prakasam district, police said. Their demands included a minimum monthly pay of Rs 15,000, job security and social security benefits.
Anganwadi workers take to streets
VIJAYAWADA, VIJAYAWADA, March 18, 2015 (http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Vijayawada/anganwadi-workers-take-to-streets/article7005005.ece)
Govt. accused of using police force to suppress the stir
Anganwadi workers organised massive protests in the Coastal Andhra districts on Tuesday, in protest against the denial of permission for the proposed ‘Chalo Assembly’ programme and to bring pressure on the government to address to their woes, with increase of wages topping the bill. The workers organised a human chain at the busy Day and Night Junction in Srikakulam and raised slogans against the government. CITU leaders D. Govinda Rao, Tejeswara Rao, Ganesh, Aruna and others alleged that the government had failed in conceding the genuine demands of Anganwadi workers. “Many of the workers are forced to work for a meagre wage of Rs. 3,500 to Rs. 4,000 per month,” they said. With situation going out of control owing to the protesters going violent, the police resorted to lathicharge and used additional force to clear the mob and the traffic. Majority of protesters were taken into police custody. Mr.Govinda Rao said that the people would teach a lesson to the government as it was adopting “anti-people’s policies”. Anganwadi workers from East Godavari district burnt the effigy of the State government at the Collectorate here on Tuesday. Hundreds of workers from different parts of the district gathered at the Collectorate and raised slogans against the government. Addressing the workers, CPI (M) secretariat committee member Dadala Subba Rao demanded that the government address the long-pending problems of the workers. He faulted the police for resorting to arrests of the workers who were on their way to participate in the ‘Chalo Hyderabad’ agitation programme. “It is unfortunate that the government is using police power to suppress the agitation,” Mr. Subba Rao said. The workers, under the aegis of CITU, took out rallies, organised rasta rokos and organised human chain in Vizianagaram, Parvathipuram, S. Kota, Kothavalasa, Bobbili, Cheepurupalli and other mandals on Tuesday. The police foiled the attempt of the workers to board trains to participate in ‘Chalo Assembly’ programme on Tuesday. At Parvathipuram, police arrested CITU leaders and a few anganwadi workers when they blocked vehicular traffic at RTC Complex.
Gram panchayat workers seek wage revision
MANDYA, KARNATAKA, March 17, 2015 (http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/gram-panchayat-workers-seek-wage-revision/article7001960.ece)
Urging the State government to implement various demands, including revision of their wages, the gram panchayat workers across the district staged a protest outside the Labour Commissioner’s office here on Monday. Protesting under the banner of the Karnataka State Gram Panchayat Employees’ Association and the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, the protesters took out a rally here. Expressing displeasure over the alleged delay in revising the wages as announced in the State Gazetteer a few years ago, the protestors raised slogans against the government. They demanded that Rs. 15,000 a month be fixed as minimum wages for bill collectors, clerks and computer operators; Rs. 12,000 for water pump operators and ‘D’ group employees and Rs. 1,000 for sweepers. They said that social security benefits should be extended to gram panchayat employees. The government should regularise the services of all those working in gram panchayat offices, they said. G.R. Ramu, Shivakumar, Nagaraja, Nanjaiah and others were present.
On the Issue of Employment Guarantee under NREGA
Vehicle ‘jatha’ of farm workers union reaches Udupi. The union opposes dilution of provisions of MNREGS
UDUPI ( KARNATAKA), February 3, 2015 (http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/vehicle-jatha-of-farm-workers-union-reaches-udupi/article6852241.ece)
The “Vidhan Soudha Chalo” vehicle ‘jatha’ of Karnataka State Agricultural Workers Union, which is against diluting the provisions of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act Scheme (MNREGS) reached here on Tuesday. The jatha, which began from Basavakalyan in Bidar district on January 25, has passed through 10 districts of the State, and will reach Bengaluru on February 10. Speaking to presspersons here, Nityananda Swami, President of the State unit of Karnataka State Agricultural Workers Union, said that the MNREGS had provided employment for 100 days in a year in some villages, while it had provided employment for 70 to 80 days in other villages. This had helped the villagers when they had no work. But now the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Government was trying to dilute the provisions of the MNREG Act by trying to restrict it to 200 most backward districts in the country. Presently, of the grants allocated MNREGS, 60 per cent was for wages of farmers, while the remaining 40 per cent was for material costs. But the Union government was trying to reduce wage component to 51 per cent and increase the material cost component to 49 per cent, which was wrong. The ordinance promulgated by the Union government on land acquisition would result in fertile agricultural lands of farmers being given to the industrialists, which was a regressive move. The farmers hardly know anything except for agricultural operations. This ordinance should be withdrawn.
The Union wanted the MNREGS to be extended to all districts of the country. The upper limit for providing employment under the scheme should be extended from 100 days to the maximum possible days. The minimum wages should be increased to Rs. 300 per day. An employment guarantee scheme should be drawn up for urban areas also. In addition to minimum wages, the farm workers should be provided with ESI, Provident Found and other social security benefits. A Welfare Fund should also be established for helping construction workers, beedi workers and porters, Mr. Swami said. Venkatesh Koni, Vittal Poojary, Basavaraj Kumar, leaders of the union, were present.
More than 70% NREGA wages unpaid this fiscal
New Delhi, January 29, 2015 (http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/more-than-70-nrega-wages-unpaid-this-fiscal/)
At a time when the NDA government’s moves to prune spending on the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and to limit its scope has brought the focus back on the gaps in the scheme’s implementation, data with the Ministry of Rural Development show over 70 per cent wages have not been paid on time under the scheme so far this financial year. As per a presentation made during an internal review meeting of the scheme by the Rural Development Ministry earlier this month, only 28.22 per cent of wage payments have been made within the stipulated 15 days till December, indicating 72 per cent of the payments were delayed. Of the delayed payments, almost 9 per cent were paid after 90 days. MGNREGA promises a 100 days of work every year to each rural household. The Act stipulates that payments are made to workers within 15 days of completion of work. Delayed payments have been one of the biggest criticisms of the scheme, causing distress to those seeking work and also discouraging some from opting for work under it. The data shows some of the worst performing states are West Bengal and Punjab where merely 8 per cent of the wages were paid within 15 days, followed by Karnataka, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh where 14 per cent, 16 per cent and 18 per cent of the wages were paid on time. Only in six states — Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand — more than half of the wages were paid within the mandated time frame. Such delays have occurred despite steps taken to check them, including asking states to fix responsibilities on functionaries causing delays and paying compensation to aggrieved workers. Ministry officials say the percentage of delays has been higher this financial year because of backlogs in releasing funds to states. Several states have faced serious fund crunches because of ad-hoc releases by the Centre, curtailing their ability to pay wages on time.
Pressing Labour issues
14 workers from Odisha released from bonded labour
VISAKHAPATNAM, March 21, 2015 (http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Visakhapatnam/released-from-bonded-labour/article7018256.ece)
Fourteen workers from Odisha, including women and children and belonging to three families, were released from bonded labour at Kokkirapalli near Elamanchili following a raid by Revenue Divisional Officer of Anakapalle and the police, on Friday. Following the intervention of former Union Secretary E.A.S. Sarma and complaints received by the NHRC and the International Justice Mission, Collector N. Yuvaraj directed RDO Padmavathi to investigate and get the workers released. “She along with local tehsildar and a Sub-Inspector went in search of the brick kiln in a private vehicles and found them engaged as bonded labourers,” Mr. Yuvaraj said. The labourers — five men, six women, and three children — are from Karla in Bolangir district of Odisha. A compensation of Rs. 1.5 lakh was handed over to them. They were given tickets and put in train to their village. A constable was accompanying them.
In Pune district, nearly 2 lakh children toil as workers, a third are girls
The government is planning a survey on the number of out of school children in Maharashtra.
Pune March 23, 2015 (http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/in-pune-district-nearly-2-lakh-children-toil-as-workers-a-third-are-girls/)
At a time when Maharashtra is being lauded as one of the most developed states in the country, a grim picture emerges of child workers in the state, according to statistics from the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development. While over 20 lakh children are classified as main workers, over 6 lakh children are marginal workers in the state. In Pune district, 1.66 lakh children are main workers while over 30,000 children are marginal workers. The Census of India defines main workers as those who had worked for the major part of the reference period (i.e. 6 months or more) while marginal workers are those who had not worked for the major part of the reference period (i.e. less than 6 months). The statistics are in three categories — 5-9 years, 10-14 years and 15-19 years. In these respective age groups in Maharashtra, there are 1,44,895, 3,52,021 and 19,61,051 children who are actually working for six months or more throughout the year, which means they hardly go to school.
As far as marginal workers are considered, there are 7,52,418 children between 5 and 19 years working in the state. Of the total workers, girls form a substantial number. There are 8,81,898 girls who are main workers, while 3,50,396 are into marginal work. In Pune district, 1,66,022 children are main workers while 41,067 are marginal workers. Of them, 53,923 are girl main workers while 17,479 are girl marginal workers. After the Right to Education Act was enacted in 2009, the concept of out of school children was taken up with more focus. As per the Act, every child between 6-14 years of age should get free and compulsory education. Last year, the state Ministry of Education, set up a committee under the director of primary education to make a report on how to include out of school children in formal education system. The report has overshot its October 2014 submission deadline. Mahavir Mane, Director, Primary Education, told Newsline, “The number is so high because of the large number of migrants from outside the state. We have agricultural workers and others who migrate from one place to another in search of work. But this number is not very high. But construction workers and others from outside are large and this adds to the number of child workers.” “The government is planning a survey on the number of out of school children. We also in the report have mentioned various schemes to be implemented like special schools for children of tamasha artistes, etc. We will be talking to the concerned minister and secretary to get their opinions too,” he added.
Number of pending labour disputes declines by 2.7% in 2013-14
New Delhi, February 25, 2015 (http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/number-of-pending-labour-disputes-declines-by-2-7-in-2013-14-115022500838_1.html)
The number of labour disputes pending have declined in 2013-14 by 2.7 per cent compared to an increase by 5.7 per cent at the end of 2012-13, Parliament was informed today. “As per the information collected from office of the Chief Labour Commissioner (Central) that the disputes pending at the end of the year witnessed a decline in 2013-14 (-2.7%) as compared to an increase (5.7%) at the end of 2012-13,” Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya said in a written reply to Rajya Sabha. As many as 4,503 labour disputes were pending at the end of 2012-13 which was 5.7 per cent higher than 4,261 pending at the end of 2011-12. The number labour disputes came down by 2.7 per cent in 2013-14 to 4,382 in 2013-14, according to the written reply. Meanwhile in a separate reply to Rajya Sabha, the Minister said that the number of women jobseekers has increased to 1.65 crore in 2013 from 1.56 crore in 2012 and 1.36 crore in 2011 as per the government employment exchanges. These exchanges helped about 59,000 women jobseekers to get a job in 2013 compared to about 68,000 in 2012 and 86,000 in 2011. In another reply, the Minister said, “as per the information available from states/UTs, during the year 2014, 1,098 violations (of Child Labour Act) came to notice, 1,054 prosecutions were launched against the employers and there were 785 convictions.
200 labour families working in pathetic conditions in brick kilns
Andhra Pradesh, March 12, 2015 (http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/200-labour-families-working-in-pathetic-conditions-in-brick-kilns/article6984098.ece)
The officials identified about 200 labour families working in brick kilns and other units working in pathetic conditions. Most of the labourers migrated from the neighbouring States and districts. Leave alone the facilities for women and their children. These unregistered kilns are not maintaining any records. The raids revealed the sorry state of affairs of labourers and the poor implementation of Labour Laws and Acts in the district. The National Human Rights Commission served summons to the officials in pending cases relating to their failure in preventing bonded labour system and for not providing rehabilitation to the rescued labourers under Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976.
Recently, the Labour, Revenue, Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) Education departments officials conducted inspections on brick kilns at Velagaleru, Vellaturu and Kuntumukkala villages in the district. The officials noticed that the labourers are working in highly polluted environment without provision of proper medical facilities. The labourers migrated from Odisha and Telangana States and Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and other districts. “We conducted raids on 21 brick kilns with the help of police. The officials inquired about implementation of Minimum Wages Act, safety precautions, medical, drinking water, toilets, holidays, schools, maintenance of records and other facilities, which are not up to the mark,” said Gudivada Assistant Commissioner of Labour Srimannarayana. Mandal Education Officer George Raju said only a few children were provided education. Tehsildar Sandhya Rani said the officials are taking steps to ensure all facilities to the families in line with Inter State Migrant Labour Act Workmen (Regulation and Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979. “About 25 to 40 labourers are working in each unit. The managements are paying Rs. 450 for making 1,000 bricks. Instructions are given to the owners to register the kilns immediately,” said Tiruvur Assistant Labour Officer Durga Prasad. We conducted raids on 21 brick kilns with the help of police. The officials inquired about implementation of Minimum Wages Act, safety precautions, medical, drinking water, toilets, holidays, schools, maintenance of records and other facilities, which are not up to the mark.
Protest against anti-labour policies of State and Corporate
Pro-RSS union leads protest against labour reforms
MUMBAI: Jan 25, 2015 (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/Pro-RSS-union-leads-protest-against-labour-reforms/articleshow/46006602.cms)
The RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) is at the forefront of protests against the state government’s pitch to reform the labour sector even as other trade unions plan to demonstrate against the proposed changes. “We are calling a meeting of all trade unions on January 31. We will plan a militant protest like we did in Rajasthan. We have already sent messages to all the ministers in the state government protesting against the reform proposals,” said BMS state chief Prabhakar Banasure. In a potential embarrassment to the NDA, the BMS has taken the lead in decrying labour policy amendments both at the Centre and in states. It was at the forefront of the coal strike earlier this month and has been openly critical of the labour reforms in Rajasthan, a BJP-ruled state. The BMS has distanced itself from the BJP government at the Centre. “We are not part of the government. The Modi government has not even allocated 1% of its budget to social security for workers. Yet it’s at the forefront of these so-called reforms. We agree labour laws should be reviewed but only after a detailed consultation,” said Banasure.
On Saturday, TOI reported on the state labour department’s proposals to overhaul the labour sector with the aim of promoting flexibility for business. These proposals suggest allowing units with less than 300 workers to retrench employees and close down without government permission and reducing the scope of the Factories Act and Contract Labour Act. The former enforces safety guidelines and the latter mandates minimum standards for contract workers. Unions in the state are opposed to the proposals and will be part of the national protest against labour reforms on February 26. “Labour laws are not enforced a majority in the unorganized sector. But now the government wants to dismantle protection for the organized sector. Most of the central trade unions will participate in the protest next month,” said Sukumar Damle from the All India Trade Union Congress.
Trade unions slam “anti-labour” policies of the Centre
NAGERCOIL (TAMIL NADU), February 27, 2015 (http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/trade-unions-slam-antilabour-policies-of-the-centre/article6939818.ece)
Members of trade unions, including the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), INTUC, CITU, AIUTC, MMS, LPF and the AICCTU, staged a dharna in front of the Collectorate here on Thursday protesting the “anti-labour” policies of the Union government. The labour policies of the NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi were pro-corporate, they said. Hundreds of leaders and cadres of 11 Central trade unions staged the protest to denounce the government’s policy of disinvestment of public sector undertakings and for increasing foreign direct investment in various sectors. The leaders who spoke at the dharna slammed various decisions taken by the government, which they said would have a negative impact on working conditions of employees. Describing the government’s move to hike or allow FDI in defence, insurance and railways and the decision for disinvestment in public sector units, the trade union leaders said it would be detrimental to the interests of the economy and national security and to the common people. The leaders alleged that labour law reforms had been undertaken favouring big corporate companies.
Air India pilots protest move to hire staff on contract
Mumbai, March 2, 2015 (http://www.financialexpress.com/article/companies/air-india-pilots-protest-move-to-hire-staff-on-contract/49636/)
Air India, which has initiated the process to recruit 197 pilots on contract for its Airbus fleet, has come under severe criticism from its existing pilots for such recruitment as a bulk of its pilots are awaiting opportunities to upgrade from their existing positions. The Air India pilots union which is recognised by the airline, Indian Commercial Pilot’s Association (ICPA), has written to the chairman of the airline, Rohit Nandan, and the minister of civil aviation, Ashok Gajapathi Raju, as well as other officials of the ministry raising their concern. “Air India currently has more than enough pilots to fly its planes. While pilots with as many as 7-8 years of experience are not getting upgraded to command position, the airline is planning to bring in pilots from outside on a contract basis. This is wasteful use of resources when the airline is a lossmaking entity and has over Rs 40,000 crore of net debt,” said a senior captain with the airline. Air India currently has 1,464 pilots in its ranks, while its fleet consists of about 110 aircraft. The airline wants to hire pilots on contract for its Airbus 320 fleet, consisting of 17 aircraft, some of which have been taken on lease. “While as many as 95 pilots are awaiting for their training to get upgraded to captain’s position, the airline is turning a blind eye to them and looking to hire pilots from outside. This is unfortunate,” said the senior pilot with the airline. Another pilot with the airline told FE that recent plans of the airline to hire 197 pilots, which is aimed towards bringing down costs, is aimed to sideline the existing pilots whose salary is a significant sum for the airline. “Almost 140 pilots from Air India’s wide bodied fleet have quit in the past year and half due to the indifferent attitude of the airline’s management towards the career progression of the pilots. Most of these pilots have joined Etihad,” the pilot said. “At present, many Air India pilots, who are supposed to fly 80 hours a month, fly only 50-60 hours a month. The move to hire pilots on contract has further dented the confidence of the airline’s existing pilots who are already under a pay cut of 25% since 2012 due to the airline’s financial woes,” the pilot added. “At present, about 30% of our cabin crew members log less than 40 hours a month against the mandatory 55 hours that is required from them. A lot of this can be blamed on poor roster management,” the official said. Minister of State for civil aviation Mahesh Sharma on Monday told Parliament that Air India would hire 197 pilots on a contract basis in the next two years to fill up existing positions that will be vacant post retirement of pilots and due to the plans of the airline to augment its fleet.
Half a million Indian coalminers launch strike
Jan 6, 2015 (http://www.industriall-union.org/half-a-million-indian-coalminers-launch-strike#.VKwMsExxI9c.twitter)
IndustriALL Global Union’s mining affiliates in India are leading a five-day nationwide strike that has shut down the country’s coal industry. Beginning 6 January, the strike is in rejection of government plans to privatize state-owned Coal India Ltd. (CIL) which produces almost all of India’s coal.
The strike action was jointly called by national coal unions affiliated to five national trade union centers – AITUC, BMS, CITU, HMS and INTUC – that together represent over 90 per cent of the 550,000 Coal India employees. All operations are halted at Coal India, its seven subsidiaries and at the Singareni Collieries Company Ltd. The strike runs from this morning’s first shift to the end of the third shift on 10 January. However, more strikes will follow until the privatization agenda is reversed. “If the government fails to respond positively to the unions’ demands, we will launch an indefinite strike very soon,” said IndustriALL Executive Committee member, Sanjeeva Reddy, who is President of INTUC, India’s largest national union. Coal India accounts for 80 per cent of domestic coal output and 60 per cent of the country’s energy needs. Other core sectors like steel, cement and iron will be affected by the strike, as well as energy. India’s Supreme Court blocked repeated government efforts to open coal contracts to private companies between 1993 and 2010. The current Government in October 2014 declared the Coal Ordinance (Special Provisions) Bill, 2014, which will allow production contracts to be reallocated through a tender process. The five national centres boycotted a meeting called by the Coal and Power Minister Piyush Goyal for 3 January, insisting that the privatization policy be repealed before negotiations can restart. India is the third-largest coal producing country after China and the United States. Strike demands include:
• Halting denationalization of coal industry
• Withdrawal of the Coal Mines Ordinance and subsequent Coal Mines Bill
• Regularization of precarious workers
• Protection of service conditions upon transfer
Coal unions to protest on Friday against disinvestment
NEW DELHI, January 29, 2015 (http://www.thehindu.com/business/Industry/coal-unions-to-protest-on-friday-against-disinvestment/article6835241.ece)
Following the government’s decision to disinvest 10 per cent shares of Coal India Limited’s (CIL), five central trade unions have announced protest demonstrations on Friday across the country. Representatives of the central trade unions had earlier declared a five-day strike from January 6 till 10 against the government’s move to introduce the Coal Ordinance permitting commercial mining and against disinvestment in CIL. They had aborted the five-day strike after two days as Coal Minister Piyush Goyal had promised to set up a committee with government and unions’ representatives to examine the workers’ demands. The January two-day strike, the biggest industrial action since the 1980s, had left a third of the thermal power plants in the country with no coal stocks left. The committee proposed on January 7 with representatives of government, CIL, central unions as members was expected to submit its findings by March but it is yet to be set up. “The committee proposed to be set up under Joint Secretary is yet to be set up. But before holding even a single discussion with the workers’ representatives, the government has declared the disinvestment of 10 percent in CIL,” said Rajya Sabha MP and General Secretary CITU Tapan Sen. The unions have proposed to hold protest demonstrations at collieries across the country, and will burn effigies of the CIL officials, the unions said in a statement. “We received communication from the government yesterday after it had already announced the disinvestment asking us to nominate members to the committee. First they went ahead with their announcement and later, contacted us. There is no spirit of consultation. We have thus decided to hold a protest on January 30 across the country,” said Pradeep Kumar who represents coal workers’ union in Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh’s wing, Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh. The government decided to go for the biggest share sale of CIL by offloading 10 percent stake in it, expecting it to fetch upto Rs. 24,000 crore. The government will sell 315.8 million shares, or five per cent stake, through an offer of sale, with an option to sell another five per.cent later. Earlier, the Coal Ordinance and the subsequent Bill on the same proposed that 204 coal blocks be allotted through e-auctions and private companies be allowed to sell the coal without restrictions on end purpose.
Airport Workers Threaten Strike over Privatisation
Union says privatisation increases cost of travel, demands ‘proper hearing’ from government
19 Jan, 2015 (http://www.businessworld.in/news/economy/airport-workers-threaten-strike-over-privatisation/1704027/page-1.html)
Opposing the government’s airports privatisation plan, Airports Authority Employees Union (AAEU) has threatened to renew its agitation including a strike call if the move is not halted. The AAEU, in a letter to Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju recently, has also alleged that the decision to privatise the development, operations and management of four more airports – Chennai, Kolkata, Jaipur and Ahmedabad – violates the Tripartite Committee recommendations, which have already been accepted by the government long back. “If the government does not give us a proper hearing, we shall be constrained to take to recourse to industrial action and call for a general strike in AAI (Airports Authority of India),” the union said. The decision is detrimental to the interests of not only AAI employees but also air travelling public, it said. “The services provided at private airports come at a high price, as has been experienced with all the existing private airports where costs borne by the air travelers are much higher in comparison to the AAI-managed airports, where quality service is equally available at a much cheaper price,” the union said. The fresh agitation threat by the AAI employees comes following the NDA government taking a U-turn on the airport privatisation policy. The erstwhile UPA government had proposed to privatise six airports – Chennai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Lucknow and Guwahati. In 2013, it had floated a global tender to give management contract for these airports. However, the move did not take off as the then government went into election mode. Taking the previous government agenda forward despite a stiff opposition from the AAI union, the new government had said it would privatise only Ahmedabad and Jaipur airports and not hand over Chennai and Kolkata airports to the private corporates as it has already invested public money to the tune of Rs around 5,000 crore in their modernisation and upgrade. The government, however, in a departure from earlier stand, early this month invited private domestic and overseas firms to operate, manage and develop the Chennai, Kolkata, Jaipur and Ahmedabad airports. But it left out Guwahati and Lucknow airports from the agenda as besides loss-making these airports also do not have enough volumes to attract private players. Even in the draft aviation policy announced last year, the government had stated that management contracts will be issued for the Kolkata and Chennai airports and the privatisation of Guwahati and Lucknow airports has been put on hold. Government’s airport privatisation policy also came under criticism recently by the global airlines body, International Air Transport Association (IATA), which has often termed Indian airports as one of the most “expensive” ones. Observing that privatisation is not a “panacea” and does not solve all the problems, IATA Director general and chief executive Tony Tyler had said, “There are very successful airports run by Governments and private companies, while there are very expensive and inefficient airports too run by governments and private sector.”
Port unions’ strike called off
KOCHI, March 15, 2015 (http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/port-unions-strike-called-off/article6995367.ece)
Port and dock workers have called off the indefinite strike they had planned against corporatisation of major ports after conciliatory talks with the Central Labour Commissioner in Delhi on Friday. A copy of the minutes of the discussions between Central Labour Commissioner and port unions said that the trade unions called off the strike plan since the government assured to look into issues raised by the unions. A 10-member committee has been constituted to study the issues raised by the unions, said a spokesman, who also claimed that the Union Minister for Ports Nitin Gadkari had assured that privatisation of ports would not be carried out. Since the government has constituted a mechanism to address the concerns raised by the unions it was decided that the strike would be called off. The federation agreed to call off the strike and assured cooperation with the government and the Indian Ports Association, minutes said. The report was conveyed by general secretary of All India Ports and Dock Workers’ Federation P.M. Mohammed Haneef.
Port Workers Federation announces that major ports to go on indefinite strike from March 9
Mumbai, February 20, 2015 (http://www.india.com/news/india/port-workers-federation-announces-that-major-ports-to-go-on-indefinite-strike-from-march-9-289561/)
The workers of all the major ports of the country will go on an indefinite strike from March 9 against the government’s decision to corporatise the sector. The national coordination committee of Port Workers Federation today announced its decision to go on strike. The strike has been called against the unilateral decision of the Shipping Ministry to corporatise the country’s major ports, a release by Transport and Dock Workers’ Union, Mumbai said here today. The decision to this effect was taken during a Federation’s meeting held in Mumbai on January 28-29, 2015. “The ministry has taken the decision disregarding several assurances given to the Federation as well as the unanimous recommendations contained in the parliamentary standing committee’s 117th report, which was presented in the Rajya Sabha on 11 August, 2011,” core leader in Federation in Mumbai, S R Kulkarni said in a statement. The leaders stated that the present attempt of the ministry is not only detrimental to the interest of the port, dock workers and pensioners, but also against the sovereignty of the country at large. They criticised the attitude of the ministry for not taking the workers into confidence while making radical changes in the organisational structure and the consequences arising out of it. Port authorities are blatantly violating statutes by not implementing several statutory settlements relating to serving employees and pensioners signed between Port management and the Federation before central authorities. The union leaders alleged that the ministry has even initiated action to enforce decision on industrial relations policy in vogue, in recalcitrance to Major Ports agreement with the Federation, even disregarding the labour ministry’s guidelines and several court judgements.
Tens of thousands of Indian dockers join protest
More than 30,000 dockers across India staged mass protests – ‘dharana’ – in all 12 major ports as part of a national day of action on 8 January against government corporatisation plans, organised by the five major dock workers’ union federations.
The government is proposing to amend the Major Port Trust Act 1963, which has so far protected the status of the ports. The amendment would mean that the major ports become autonomous, corporate bodies, which unions fear would pave the way for future privatisation. In Mumbai, 3,000 dock workers joined a protest in front of the Mumbai Port Trust’s administration building, alongside several union leaders, including S K Shetye, president of Mbpt Employees General Workers’ Union; and Kersi Parekh and Sudhakar Apraj, labour trustees of Mumbai Port Trust. In a message read out to the protestors, S R Kulkarni, president of the Transport & Dock Workers’ Union & All India Port & Dock Workers’ Federation, said: “Port workers have made an immense contribution to the ongoing success of India’s major ports, which now handle 2.75 percent of global maritime trade. These ports have also been the gateways for the inflow of forex and the catalyst for the development of several industries. “We need to protect the workforce and the assets of our ports. That’s why we are appealing to the Indian government to shelve its plans to amend the Major Port Trust Act and corporatise the major ports. If it fails to do this, port and dock workers will be forced to intensify their protests.” The TDWU Mumbai is organising a public meeting on 29 January in Mumbai Port to raise awareness of the issues among port employees, warehousing workers, transport workers and contract workers.
Vizag Port workers protest corporatisation move
VISAKHAPATNAM, March 2, 2015 (http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/vizag-port-workers-protest-against-corporatisation/article6951391.ece)
The announcement on corporatisation of major ports by converting them into companies as per Companies Act evoked strong protest by a section of the employees of Visakhapatnam Port Trust here on Monday. Taking strong exception to transform major ports into landlord ports, workers owing allegiance to CITU-affiliated United Port and Dock Employees’ Union and Visakhapatnam Dock Workers’ Union staged a dharna in front of the administrative building of the VPT. Both the unions had undertaken a sensitisation programme among various departments of the port during February 10-15 against corporatisation. “The UPA when it was in power and the NDA now are responsible for involving private investors in mechanisation of facilities under the pretext of competing with private ports,” United Port and Dock Employees’ Union general secretary V.S. Padmanabha Raju told The Hindu. He wondered why the major ports were facing problem now and pointed out that the reason for their present predicament was due to allowing private ports on their neighbourhood by offering them slew of incentives. Mr. Raju said for instance, Gangavaram Port was awarded to a private party under PPP mode by exerting pressure on Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited, the corporate entity of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, to alienate its land for the project ignoring the proposal by Visakhapatnam Port and VSP to develop a satellite port. He said private ports were also posing a threat to national security as several multinational players were picking up stake in the major ports.
Unions rail against outsourcing, spook train passengers
Feb 28, 2015 (http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-tamilnadu/railway-employees-sit-on-fast-against-fdi/article6939917.ece)
Threatened by outsourcing proposed in the Rail Budget and a tender floated by their local bosses, Pune division employees post provocative board at stn
On Thursday, railway minister Suresh Prabhu may have been very gung ho about outsourcing some critical support systems of the world’s largest rail network, but clearly not everybody in his establishment share this confidence. Even as he made his announcements, others in his establishment worked to spook passengers at Pune Station on this very prospect. Threatened railway employees installed a conspicuous black board at the station’s platform no 1 warning passengers of an unsafe journey, as they insisted the railway authorities have washed their hands off the maintenance and running of air-conditioned coaches by outsourcing the work. “Savdhan, savdhan, sadhan” (Beware!), shouted the notice board place by members of the All India Railwaymen’s Federation (Pune division). On the left end of the board was a photocopy of a tender notice issued by the rail authorities. Referring to it the handwritten placard noted that the electrical maintenance of all coaches, including the air-conditioned ones, was being handed over to private parties. “This means the work will be done by untrained and unskilled workers, raising the risk of mishaps, inconveniencing passengers. It could also inflict serious injuries on passengers and damage their luggage. In such instances, the blame cannot be pinned on the railway worker,” the notice declared. This strategy of co-opting passengers’ concerns in their fight against the administration, the union has evidently sparked panic among the passengers streaming into the station since Thursday. “When I first glanced at the board, I thought it was a warning of some danger in taking a train out of Pune. Only when I read the board twice over, did I realise that it is a conflict between the union and the administration,” said Sandeep Kumar, who had come to board a train to Patna. “More than a protest, the board works to scare passengers. The union should have addressed the administration rather than passengers,” objected Mangilal Solanki, who regularly travels between Pune and Mumbai. “Even if we accept that the workers have done this out of their fear of losing jobs, the situation will not get conveyed to many people and create unnecessary panic. They should have taken their angst to the administrative offices instead of bringing it to the platform,” concurred Hemant Tapale, president of Pune-Mumbai Pravasi Sangh. But far from doing a rethink, union members are clearly delighted by these reactions. “We have already written to the divisional railway manager about our opposition to the move to outsource. We felt it was our duty to also inform passengers on the fall out of such outsourcing and so we parked the board here,” an unrelenting Sunil Bajare, secretary of All India Railwaymen’s Federation (Pune division), told Mirror. Also trying to justify the union’s move, he pointed out, “There have been past instances where air-conditioned coaches have caught fire due to short-circuit. Now, handing over these specialised jobs to private players, who will deploy workers not trained like us, the administration is only running higher risks of accidents.” Some of the trains originating from Pune with air-conditioned coaches include, the Duronto trains running between the city and Ahmedabad, Delhi and Howrah, Jhelum Express, Pune-Patna Express and Azad Hind Express. Strangely, until Friday evening, Suneet Sharma, divisional railway manager of Central Railway’s Pune division, was clueless about the panic the union had managed to churn among passengers at the station. But once informed, he rushed to assure, “We have not yet outsourced the work. It is only in the planning stage. Even when we outsource, it will not make the journey unsafe for passengers. I will have to ask my staff to have the board removed from the platform immediately.” We have not yet outsourced the work. It is only in the planning stage. Even when we outsource, it will not make the journey unsafe for passengers
Railway employees sit on fast against FDI
TIRUCHI, February 27, 2015 (http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-tamilnadu/railway-employees-sit-on-fast-against-fdi/article6939917.ece)
Railway employees of various unions observed a fast near the Armoury Gate at Golden Rock here on Thursday opposing 100 per cent foreign direct investment in the railway sector and in support of their other demands. Members of unions, including Southern Railway Employees Sangh, Dakshin Railway Employees Union, Railway Employees Progressive Union, Southern Railway Anna Trade Union, and Indian Railway Technical Supervisors Association, participated in the day-long fast. Their demands included merger of 100 per cent Dearness Allowance with the basic salary, grant of interim relief till implementation of the Seventh Pay Commission, supply of quality spares in tune with production, and withdrawal of bio-metric attendance system.
Gujarat fishermen observe bandh to protest use of large fishing vessels
Rajkot, January 19, 2015 (http://indianexpress.com/article/india/gujarat/gujarat-fishermen-observe-bandh-to-protest-use-of-large-fishing-vessels/)
FISHERMEN of Gujarat observed a day-long bandh and joined nationwide strike to protest against reported move of the Central government to allow foreign-made larger vessels to do fishing in Indian waters. However, Union Minister of State for Agriculture, Mohan Kundariya said the government would protect interests of the fishermen. Hundreds of fishing trawlers and small boats did not set sail from major fishing harbours like Veraval, Pobandar, Jafrabad, Okha and Jakhau in the state. Nor was loading or unloading of fish done as part of the strike. “Around 50 per cent of boats of Porbandar are not going on fishing trips as the availability of fish in the sea is less. If large vessels are allowed to do fishing, they will catch majority of schools of fish and traditional fishermen will be out of business,” said Manish Lodhari, secretary of Gujarat chapter of National Fish Workers Forum. The nationwide bandh call was given by Federation of Indian Fishery Industry (FIFI), an organisation of various stakeholders of fishing industry in the country. Velji Masani, vice president of All Gujarat Fishermen Federation (AGFF) said that during its last months in power, the UPA government had taken a decision to allowIndian fishermen to buy large fishing vessels from abroad and do fishing in Indian waters. “FIFI leaders have told us that the NDA government is in the process of implementing the decision taken by the UPA government. But we fear, industrialists and those with money would buy such vessels and catch all the fish from our waters. This will ruin livelihood of lakhs of traditional fishermen,” said Masani. Masani further said a traditional fishing trawler would be around 20 metres long and powered by 88 horse power (HP) engine. But the imported vessels can measure up to 50 metres and powered by 500 HP engines. “The stated objective of the Central government decision is to explore the Indian water far away from shore which traditional trawlers can’t. The decision will also require traditional trawlers to fish within 12 nautical miles from the coast. But due to pollution, there is no fish near the coast and trawlers are already going as far as 70 nautical miles,” Masani added. The AGFF vice president said he had a conversation with minister Kundariya and that the latter had assured to look into the matter. On his part, Kundariya said the government would take necessary steps. “I have come to know about the issue through media reports. The decision was taken by the previous UPA government. But NDA government will do everything possible, including not to implement the decision, to protect interests of fishermen,” Kundariya said while talking to The Indian Express. Gujarat has 1,600 km shoreline, the longest in the country, and has a rich fishing industry. The industry earns the country foreign exchange through exports of fish. There are more than two lakh active fishermen in the state. Incidentally, Congress government had allowed Taiwan to do fishing in Indian waters in 1991-92 but had to withdraw that permission later on following protests by Indianfishermen.
Food Corporation of India trade unions upset at government’s policies
NEW DELHI, Jan 29, 2015 (http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2015-01-29/news/58586272_1_fci-silos-food-corporation)
Labour and trade unions of Food Corporationof India, upset at the government’s policies, which they think tend to favour the private sector, staged a demonstration in front of the FCI headquarters on Thursday, opposing the implementation of winding up of the corporation’s activities in traditional procurement states, drastic reduction in coverage of National Food Security Act, etc. The unions are unhappy with the report submitted by the high-level committee headed by senior BJP leaderShanta Kumar on the restructuring of the corporation, and could even resort to a strike, said JS Duggal, president of Bhartiya Khadya Nigam Karamchari Sangh. “The government is looking at the report on liquidating and outsourcing some core activities of FCI, including its various establishments like zonal offices to favour private players and other small organisations with less productivity and higher percentage of grain losses than the corporation,” Duggal said. He further added that some companies are already eyeing FCI-owned land. “In Whitefield and Bellary near Bangalore, Adani Group has started assessment for construction of silos, ahead of any tender,” Duggal said. Adani officials, however, refuted such charges. “We have built our own silos since 2007 and will explore opportunities when the state comes out with tenders,” said an official. Adani has silos in Moga in Punjab, Kaithal in Haryana, Malur in Bangalore and Taloja in Maharashtra, apart from Coimbatore, Chennai and Kolkata. The committee’s recommendation to introduce negotiable warehouse receipt systems which had been introduced in the early sixties through the Central Warehouse Corporation was also opposed. “The scheme failed in the past as the financial conditions and agriculture holding in our country are not suitable to such a system,” said MC Tyagi, all India general secretary of the union, which represents more than 60% of FCI’s workforce. Labour union leaders also expressed fears of the government’s labour policy, especially the suggestion that FCI should be made leaner and nimble by scaling down, or by abolishing zonal offices (Noida, Mumbai, Chennai, Guwhati and Kolkata). The unions opposed the recommendation, arguing it wasn’t necessary. “Dismantling zonal offices will impact the functioning of a region. This is not a viable situation,” Duggal added.
72K mathadi workers to go on strike today
Mar 16, 2015 (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/navi-mumbai/72K-mathadi-workers-to-go-on-strike-today/articleshow/46577284.cms)
NAVI MUMBAI: Around 72,000 mathadi workers (head loaders) working across the state at APMC markets, railway yards, transport industries, government warehouses and MIDC companies will observe a one-day token strike on March 16. They will protest against the state government’s implementation of the Labour Policy, which they allege is arbitrary and against the Mathadi Act and other labour laws. The decision to boycott work on March 16 across Maharashtra was taken unanimously at a meeting of mathadi workers in APMC market. Narendra Patil, Mathadi union leader and MLC, said, “The state ruled by the BJP-Sena alliance has formed a 10-advisory member committee but not involved any mathadi representative. The committee has suggested amendments in the labour policy, which are unfavourable for mathadi workers. If implemented, the companies having more than100 workers can be arbitrarily shut down without the consent of the state government, thus rendering many mathadi workers jobless.” He also added that BJP leaders are deliberately trying to abolish Mathadi Act from the industrial sector.
“If they implement the rule of lock-out of companies with even 300 workers, then a huge number of mathadi workers will be jobless,” said Patil.
Regularise services of postal employees, all the moves to privatise the postal services should be dropped
ALABURAGI, KARNATAKA, K March 15, 2015 (http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/regularise-services-of-postal-employees/article6995117.ece)
The indefinite strike by postal employees affiliated to the All India Postal Grameen Dak Sevak Employees Union demanding, among other things, the regularisation of all the postal employees working in the rural areas entered the fourth day today. The members of the union continued their dharna outside the post office on the main road for the fourth day under the leadership of the president of the union Abdul Jabbar and secretary Digambar N. Sajjan. Other demands of the striking employees included appointment of the 7th pay commission under the chairmanship of a retired Supreme Court judge and rejection of the recommendation of the task force to privatise the postal department. They said that the government should constitute the 7th pay commission under the chairmanship of a retired Supreme Court judge. All the moves to privatise the postal services should be dropped.
CITU organises rally against anti-workers policies of Centre
Agartala, Tripura, March 14, 2015 (http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/citu-organises-rally-against-anti-workers-policies-of-centre-115031400615_1.html)
The Tripura unit of the Centre for Indian Trade Union (CITU) today organised a ‘Satyagraha rally’ here to protest anti-workers policies adopted by the NDA government at the Centre. Hundreds of protesters, majority of them women, took to the streets demanding repealing of the anti-workers laws including allowance of 49 percent FDI in the insurance sector. “NDA government’s economic policy has no difference with the former UPA government led by the Congress. This NDA government is destroying all democratic and federal parliamentary practices and has adopted anti-labour laws, without consultation with the trade unions and state governments. Even many BJP ruled states have lodged complaints against such practices,” National Secretary ofCITU Swadesh Dev Roye said. Roye said, a national convention of different trade unions would be held in Delhi on April 10 to fix up the date for a nationwide strike. Sankar Prashad Datta, MP and secretary of the Tripura unit of CITU claimed more than 10,000 protesters today courted arrest in front of AIR (All India Radio) office when they tried to enter the office premises after demonstrations.
Roadways employees’s strike against granting of long route permits to private transporters.
Haryana Roadways employees go on strike, passengers harried
Karnal (Haryana), March 17 (http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/haryana-roadways-employees-go-on-strike-passengers-harried/54751.html)
Bus services across the state remained paralysed on Tuesday as employees of the Haryana Roadways went on a one-day strike to protest against new time-table for private buses and granting of long route permits to private transporters. According to reports from various parts of the state, Roadways buses remained off the road, causing inconvenience to commuters. The strike call was given by the Haryana Roadways Employees coordination committee late last night and all roadways employee unions extended their support to it. Employees demonstrated on the premises of bus stands and raised slogan against the government. They also staged dharna and demanded the withdrawal of the new time-table and order of granting long route permits. The decision on today’s strike was taken late last night following the issuance of new time-table and granting long route permit by the government, said Anil Kumar, district president, Haryana Roadways All-Workers Union. “The government has betrayed roadways employees by issuing permits to private players, which would not be tolerated,” said Ram Niwas Sharma, president, Haryana Sanyukt Karamchari Sangh. The government’s decision would reduce the number of government vehicles and eligible youths would not get jobs, said Ishwar Chand, secretary, Haryana Roadways Mahasangh. Sarbat Singh Punia, president of the Haryana Roadway Workers Union affiliated with Sarva Karamchari Sangh, alleged that the state government was trying to demolish state transport system by issuing long route permits to private transporters. Punia said decision of today’s strike taken only last night after the government suddenly issued new time-table under transport policy of 2013. Punia said union leaders will meet in the evening to decide whether to continue with the striketomorrow or to keep it a one-day token strike. Meanwhile, the strike caused inconvenience to commuters who were seen looking for other means of transportation.
Initiatives of Delhi AAP Government on Labour
AAP government stops termination of contractual employees
NEW DELHI, Feb 17, 2015 (http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2015-02-17/news/59232418_1_aap-government-termination-contractual-employees)
Delivering on its poll promise, the AAPgovernment today put a restriction on termination of services of any contractual employee till a thorough review of the issue was completed, a move which will benefit around one lakh employees. The decision was taken at a high-level meeting presided over by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Trade unions call for structural changes in labour sector
NEW DELHI, March 22, 2015 (http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/trade-unions-call-for-structural-changes-in-labour-sector/article7019694.ece)
Trade unions and organisations representing labourers on Friday made a fervent plea for bringing about “structural changes” in the labour sector in the Capital in order to protect the interests of the working class, especially in the unorganised and construction segments. They also laid emphasis on strict compliance with the labour laws. Representatives of trade unions, who attended a Jan Sunwai programme addressed by Delhi Labour Minister Gopal Rai, said the newly elected Aam Aadmi Party government must accord the highest priority to labour welfare, as the working class’ support had played a crucial role in the party coming to power with an absolute majority. A cross section of trade unions, such as Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, AITUC, INTUC and Delhi Labour Union, took part in the two-hour-long interactive session at Shah Auditorium in Civil Lines here primarily aimed at providing a platform to labour representatives to air their grievances and finding ways to resolve them. A serious concern was raised during the programme over the recent amendments made by the Union Government in the labour laws, which the participants felt had benefited big industrial houses and the corporate sector rather than securing the interests of labourers. Nagendra Pal Singh of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh said the labourers’ groups would oppose the changes in legislation at all available forums. Amjad Hassan of INTUC said the staff strength in Delhi Government’s Labour Department had decreased over the years, making it difficult for the department to keep track of labour welfare activities. Pramod Kumar Rajput of AITUC said the workers’ cases under the Industrial Disputes Act were being consistently rejected and minimum wages were being denied, while licences for permanent works were being issued in violation of the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act. Responding to the issues raised by the participants, Mr. Rai said his department would shortly form a Minimum Wages Committee for welfare of labourers and prepare a base for payment of wages to all workers as per the minimum notified rates. Mr. Rai noted that the workers hired through contractors were not being paid minimum rates of wages even though the contractors get full wages from the principal employers.
Panel to study minimum wages in Delhi
New Delhi, March 20, 2015 (http://www.financialexpress.com/article/industry/jobs/panel-to-study-minimum-wages-in-delhi/55893/)
Delhi government today announced that it would form a committee to study minimum wages in the national capital. Delhi Labour Minister Gopal Rai, at a public hearing, directed officials to ensure that wages are paid to all workers at least as per the minimum notified rates. According to a senior government official, as per minimum notified rates in city, Rs 8,086 is paid to unskilled worker while semi-skilled worker can be given Rs 8,918. Besides, Rs 9,802 can be paid to skilled worker. “The committee, which will also have around two MLAs as its members, will soon be formed. It will study and come up with new minimum wages in Delhi,” the official said. At a public hearing chaired by Rai, more than 350 trade union leaders, Commissioner, Labour, and all senior officials of the nine districts gathered to understand the problems faced by workers in getting their legal entitlement in a time bound manner. During the hearing, the Minister expressed his concerns with respect to the complaints received from workers about non-payment of the notified minimum rates of wages. Rai also advised officials of Labour Department to be more pro active towards the needs of workers, advising union representatives to shoulder their responsibilities in a more effective and humble manner providing succour to workers. The Minister also invited suggestions from trade unions for bringing moreeffectiveness in the working of Labour Department so that large numbers of workers are benefited in a time bound manner.
On the Issue of Social security
Steelworker strike looms as Tata moves to close pension scheme
Trade unions prepare for first national dispute in 30 years and accuse steel group of being hell bent on closing scheme
14 March 2015 (http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/mar/14/steelworker-strike-tata-pension-scheme)
Steelworkers could be balloted on industrial action after Tata Steel announced plans to close their pension scheme in April 2016, according to unions. Officials accused the steel group of being hellbent on closing the British Steel pension scheme, affecting about 17,000 workers, and warned that they were on the brink of a big industrial dispute for the first time in 30 years. Community, GMB and Unite are preparing plans to ballot their members for industrial action. Roy Rickhuss, chairman of the union coordinating committee, said:“Tata Steel’s decision to close the British Steel Pension Scheme is unnecessary and profoundly disappointing. It is not a position we expected to find ourselves in, given that trade unions have been in discussions with the company since early November. “Throughout a long process, we have acted in good faith and negotiated constructively in trying to reach an agreement which addresses what we acknowledge to be a significant deficit in the scheme. “We have made every effort to compromise with the company, even discussing the possibility of meeting the deficit through changes to member benefits, despite the fact the company is legally obliged to pay for the deficit and has always done so in the past. “Sadly, the company rejected this offer out of hand. It appears they are hellbent on closing the scheme and are not prepared to compromise. “We have lost all faith in the company and its leadership, which has brought us to the brink of a major national industrial dispute for the first time in over 30 years.” Tata Steel said: “The company and the trade unions have had a number of meetings to discuss the preliminary actuarial valuation of the British Steel Pension Scheme as at 31 March 2014. Those discussions have been held in a constructive and transparent atmosphere. “The unions and company have discussed the performance of the UK business and considered the challenges facing the pension scheme. We have been unable to come to an agreement that would have enabled defined benefit provision to continue and will be consulting employees on a proposal to close the defined benefit scheme to future accrual. “It is proposed that future pension provision will be on a defined contribution basis. We remain committed to providing employees with competitive future pension provision.”
Autorickshaw workers demand welfare board
PUDUCHERRY, March 14, 2015 (http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/autorickshaw-workers-demand-welfare-board/article6993101.ece)
Several members of the Auto-Rickshaw Workers’ Union affiliated to the Central Indian Trade Union (CITU) on Friday took out a rally towards the Legislative Assembly urging the government to create a separate board for the welfare of unorganised workers including autorickshaw workers. The rally, started from Kamarajar Road, proceeded towards the Legislative Assembly along Nehru Street. T. Murugan, honorary president of the Auto-Rickshaw Workers’ Union said, “We have been agitating for the establishment of a separate board for more than 15 years. But the present government has not taken any step to protect the families of around 5000 workers. Chief Minister N. Rangasamy, who has been in power for 10 years, shows scant regard towards unorganised workers and autoworkers.” The workers also demanded an allocation of Rs. 10 crore for the fund besides setting up of separate welfare board. They also said three per cent of amount collected as road tax on auto should be allocated to the board. They also sought to impose complete ban on illegal rental two-wheeler centres and urged the government to construct apartments for autoworkers who did not own a house.
Trade unions to protest investment of PF money in equities
NEW DELHI, MARCH 11, 2015 (HTTP://WWW.THEHINDUBUSINESSLINE.COM/NEWS/TRADE-UNIONS-TO-PROTEST-INVESTMENT-OF-PF-MONEY-IN-EQUITIES/ARTICLE6982311.ECE)
Flaying the Finance Ministry’s proposal to invest 5 to 15 per cent of retirement funds worth over Rs 6 lakh crore belonging to about 8 crore depositors in the ‘speculative’ share market, trade unions said they will register their protest in the tripartite body of the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO). AK Padmanabhan, President of Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), and a member of the tripartite Central Board of Trustees, said the Finance Ministry’s move to “partially amend” the investment pattern had not been sanctioned by the trustees. “The existing investment pattern, thoroughly discussed and finalised by CBT and notified on 21.11.2013, did not sanction any investment in share market and was being followed for investments from 1st January 2014,” he said in a statement, adding that on March 2, 2015, the Finance Ministry amended the investment pattern by directing 5-15 per cent investment in share market and up to 5 per cent investment in other miscellaneous investments, such as Real Estate Investment Trusts. “These amendments have been made by limiting investments in government securities,” he said, adding that trade unions will resist investing the assets of workers in the share market. Earlier, another trustee, Virjesh Upadhyay, General Secretary of the RSS-backed Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, had also voiced his opposition to invest retirement funds in equity or equity-related instruments. “It is our responsibility to protect and safeguard the money of the poor workers as trustees of the fund,” he told a news agency, adding “Why would we invest in equity when government does not give us guarantee against any loss due to such investments.” Padmanabhan also criticised the Finance Minister’s Budget speech proposing to take away about Rs 6,000 crore from the corpus of EPF in order to provide a welfare fund for senior citizens. “The so-called ‘unclaimed deposits’ are the properties of workers who have to be identified and paid,” he added.
EPFO has no plan to launch housing scheme for its members:Govt
New Delhi, November 26, 2014 (http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/epfo-has-no-plan-to-launch-housing-scheme-for-its-members-govt-114112600635_1.html)
Retirement fund body EPFO has no plans to launch a housing scheme for its over five crore subscribers on additional contribution by its members, Parliament was informed today. “No Sir,” Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha on a question whether Employees’Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has chalked out a scheme for providing housing to its subscribers on additional contribution. The idea to provide housing by EPFO on additional contribution 10 per cent of subscribers’ basic wages was mooted earlier this year by Labour Minister Oscar Fernandes during a function of the body in January. Addressing the gathering, Fernandes who was also heading the EPFO trustee’s board, had said, “EPFO can deduct extra 10 per cent of their basic wages over the mandatory contribution of 12 per cent made by them at present. The money can be used to provide them housing facility.” The Minister had also said, “Most of the workers throughout their working life live in rented accommodation and their entire saving on retirement is spent on purchasing a house.” At present, all workers covered under the EPFO schemes, pay 12 per cent of their basic wages toward PF contribution every month. The basic wages include basic pay and dearness allowance. On the occasion, EPFO’s central Provident Fund Commissioner K K Jalan had said: “We will definitely work on the proposal. He (the minister) has a lot experience.” According to information available, EPFO had earlier constructed a few houses and provided to workers covered under its scheme during the tenure of late Sahib Singh Verma as Labour Minister. However, they did not have to make any additional contribution during that time. A senior official said that the body has huge financial strength to take up any such housing scheme for its subscribers but how many of them would be ready to take a cut of 10 per cent of basic wages. EPFO has a corpus of around Rs 6 lakh crore and receives incremental deposits of over Rs 70,000 crore every year. A large chunk of EPFO funds are invested in central and state securities.
ESIC spends Rs 5,345 cr on 12 medical college projects
New Delhi, February 25, 2015: Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) spent Rs 5,345.5 crore till September on its 12 medical college projects, which is over half of the estimated cost, Parliament was informed today. The estimated cost of the 12 medical college projects was Rs 9,990.84 crore and ESIC has incurred an expenditure of Rs 5,345.5 crore by September 30 last year, Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya informed the Rajya Sabha in a written reply. The ESIC has decided to focus on providing primary, secondary and super speciality medical care services to its insured persons and exit the field of medical education entirely as it is not its core function, the minister said.
The minister further said that around Rs 10,000 crore was allocated for 12 ESIC medical college projects which are under construction. The annual expenditure likely to be incurred on running of a medical college is about Rs 60-80 crore and associated 500 bed hospital is about Rs 100-125 crore, he added. ESIC has also decided to hand over on-going medical colleges and other medical education institutions having separate infrastructure to state governments willing for such transfers, the minister said. These under construction medical colleges are located at Patna, Basaidarapur, Faridabad, Mandi, Gulbarga, Rajajinagar (Bangalore), Paripally (Kollam), Alwar, Coimbatore, K K Nagar (Chennai), Sanathnagar (Hyderabad) and Joka (Kolkata).
Insurance Workers Join All-India Protest
BENGALURU, 10th March 2015 (http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/bengaluru/Insurance-Workers-Join-All-India-Protest/2015/03/10/article2706631.ece)
The employees of Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) and four public sector general insurance companies observed a nationwide strike on Monday, protesting against the passing of Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2015, by the Lok Sabha. The agitators were supported by CITU, AITUC, INTUC, BMS and other central trade unions, bank unions, BSNL and public sector enterprises. According to the protesters, the strike affected work in about 3,000 branches of LIC. There were no financial transactions in all the branch offices of LIC. In Karnataka, at least 5,000 people participated in the strike. President of All India Insurance Employees Association Amanulla Khan said the passing of the law was unnecessary. He said the objective of opening the insurance industry to private players in 1999 has not been met. “There is no justification in increasing the foreign equity limit from 26 to 49 per cent in the insurance sector. Taking the ordinance route on this Bill is like mocking the parliamentary process,” he said. “The insurance industry is not capital intensive and enough resources are available within the country to meet the capital needs of the private companies. Political parties must see the danger and prevent the passage of this Bill in the Rajya Sabha,” said Khan.
Less than 1% of labour cess spent on workers
Ahmedabad, July 20, 2013 (http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/less-than-1-of-labour-cess-spent-on-workers/)
The state government has collected Rs 470 crore as labour cess till March 31,2013, for the welfare of building and other construction workers since 2006 when the Gujarat Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board came into existence. But only Rs 4.10 crore (less than one percent) has been spent for the welfare and uplift of the workers and their family members. According to official sources,the number of beneficiaries were 15,000. The major portion of the money was given as scholarships to children of the workers. Only Rs 12 lakh was given as ex-gratia to the families of six workers who died while at work. Board sources say the main reason for workers not being benefited from the scheme is a provision in the central Act that makes it compulsory for beneficiaries to be registered with any of the 68 labour offices in the district or taluka where they are working. Unregistered workers are not covered under the scheme. Board secretary A B Parmar said a worker had to produce a certificate of having worked for at least 90 days in a year at some project to get benefits under the scheme. This certificate needs to be renewed and submitted every year in the respective district labour office. According to Parmar,this condition was coming in the way of most workers securing these benefits. He said most private groups did not issue work certificates because they feared that workers could use the document to claim Employees State Insurance Corporation,provident fund and gratuity benefits which could reduce their profit margin. According to Parmar,there are a total of 69,000 workers from government undertaking and another 39,000 from private groups registered with the labour offices across the state. The total workforce employed at various construction sites in the state is estimated to be 15 lakh. Bandhkam Mazdoor Sangathan secretary Vipul Pandya on Thursday submitted a memorandum to National Commission for Protection of Child Rights,demanding that the cess money collected by the government be transferred to a separate account of the board. The demands also include making changes in the provisions for hiking the scholarship amount and allowing the children of construction workers to continue getting student scholarships from other sources,like the state government. The Comptroller and Auditor General of India had,in its reports for 2009-10 and 2010-11,indicted the state government for having failed to do anything for the welfare of building and other construction workers despite collecting a huge amount as labour cess.
TCWF’s Judicial Intervention Ensures Social Security Cover for Migrants
29 January 2015 (http://www.bwint.org/default.asp?Index=6001&Language=EN)
Judicial interventions in India by the BWI affiliated trade unions continue to reap benefits for the workers in the country. In the Southern State – Tamil Nadu, TCWF’s ongoing writ petition in the State High Court has prompted the State Government to declare inter-state migrant workers enrolment in the Tamil Nadu Construction Workers Welfare Board and ensure protection of migrant workers rights. The State Government has also constituted an expert committee to oversee the process including data collection on the number of migrants employed in the State. With this announcement, migrant workers shall become eligible for various benefits under the welfare board including pension, funeral assistance, maternity benefit, scholarship for children etc. The State Government has declared fresh guidelines for migrant workers’ enrollment. The guidelines include documentation, maintenance of biometric data with the Board with validity of registration for one year initially, to be renewed subject to continuity of their employment in Tamil Nadu State (renewal period for local workers is 5 years). The guidelines also include mandatory visits by labour officers to large infrastructure work sites that employ a substantial number of inter-state migrants. Pon Kumar, President, TKTMS and member union, TCWF commented “This is a very positive announcement made by the State Government. We shall continue with our efforts in upholding rights of migrants and shall ensure this announcement becomes a reality and thousands of inter-state migrants who have been marginalised for years and years are accorded their due status in Tamil Nadu State.” The TCWF is a federation of seven BWI affiliated unions in Tamil Nadu State. Last year on 5 February, the TCWF filed a writ petition in the State High Court, Madras highlighting gaps and various implementation issues in the Inter State Migrant Workmen Act, 1979 and raised specific demands for coverage of inter-state migrants in the Tamil Nadu State Construction Workers Welfare Board.
Waste pickers to get minimum wages and statutory benefits in Pimpri Chinchwad
Pune, Jan 25, 2015 (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/Waste-pickers-to-get-minimum-wages-and-statutory-benefits-in-Pimpri-Chinchwad/articleshow/46014650.cms)
The three hundred waste-pickers members of Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat (KKPKP) engaged by the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation have won a hard fought battle for Minimum Wages and other statutory benefits. “The work performed by waste-pickers is very important for the city. I welcome the step of providing minimum wages and other benefits to them. They should receive all wages and benefits due to them and I will continue to support them in their struggle,” stated Laxman Jagtap, BJP MLA from Chinchwad. On Thursday, the municipal commissioner agreed to discontinue existing contracts for door to door collection of waste in A, D and F zones of the municipal corporation. Through the efforts of KKPKP, the PCMC has now agreed to publish new tenders clearly specifying minimum wages payable per worker. Contractors will receive a service charge over and above such wages for meeting operations and management costs. All wages will have to be paid directly into the workers’ bank accounts and monthly proofs have to be submitted to the municipal corporation. “We have been exploited and harassed by contractors for two years, but we kept on fighting. Now let us see who will take up these new contracts when there is little scope for stealing our dues,” said Anita Dahake while announcing the news to the two hundred odd waste-pickers gathered in protest of harassment from labour contractors.
Unorganized workers demand ESI Hospital in Jamshedpur
JAMSHEDPUR January 24, 2015 (http://www.avenuemail.in/jamshedpur/unorganized-workers-demand-esi-hospital-jamshedpur/69970/)
Unorganized workers staged a demonstration in front of DC office to press for the demand of ESI Hospital and two dispensaries in Jamshedpur. They have also demanded action against financial exploitation at different police stations for issuance of character certificates, and a ban on selling of illicit liquor being done with the tacit support of the police. Unorganized Workers’ Union general secretary Sanjiv Srivastava and Youth Congress district vice president Rakesh Sahu led the demonstration. On the occasion a six-point charter of demands was submitted at the office of deputy commissioner. The workers’ union said that more than 2 lakh workers from unorganized sector are earning their livelihoods in Jamshedpur. The middlemen are fleecing thousands of rupees from the poor workers in the name of safety cards. The union said that the regional provident fund office had asked the workers to file complaints regarding PF online instead of listening to the problems from the workers at the PF office. The workers’ union urged the administration to act on the demands at the earliest.
Issues of Health and Safety
Three quarry workers killed
TELANGANA, January 11, 2015: Three labourers were killed and another sustained serious injuries when boulders fell on them at Chintalagutta granite quarry at Kothagattu in Karimnagar district on Saturday evening. Reports reaching here said that the labourers were at work when huge boulders rolled down on them. The deceased have been identified as Raju Naik and Rahul Naik of Odisha and Mariappa of Tamil Nadu.
10 workers killed in Ranipet tannery
VELLORE (TN), January 31, 2015 (http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/10-workers-killed-as-effluent-tank-collapses-in-vellore/article6841995.ece)
In the worst tannery disaster in Tamil Nadu, 10 workers were drowned in toxic sludge in the early hours of Saturday at a tannery unit in the Small Industries Development Corporation (SIDCO) Industrial Estate in Ranipet.
Breach in wall
The flood, caused by a breach in the concrete wall of the sludge storage tank of the adjacent Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP), caught the workers who were asleep, unawares. Nine of the dead were from Paschim Medinipur district, police said. They were identified as Abeeb Khan and his two sons Ali Akbar and Ali Ankar of Vidyapur Saltawani; Shajahan and Kutub Khan (brothers); Akram, Eshyam, Pyar and Habeeb, all from Balrampur. G. Sampath of Melvallam, the watchman at the unit, was also killed. Two other employees, K. Ravi (50), a supervisor and G. Aminul Ali Khan (21) of Balrampur were rescued by fellow workers. The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) has ordered the closure of the CETP, run by the Ranipet SIDCO Finished Leather Effluent Treatment Company Limited, as well as 79 member-units linked to it, for not following safety norms.
P.K. Senthil Kumari, Superintendent of Police, Vellore district told The Hindu that a case has been registered against the company under sections 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others), 285 (negligent conduct with respect to fire or combustible matter) and 304 (ii) (causing death by negligence) of the IPC. The CETP was established in 1995 with a designed capacity of 2,500 cubic metres per a day to treat effluents discharged from 87 member tanneries. Currently 79 tanneries are linked to it., following the closure of the remaining for various reasons.
BMC playing with lives of manhole cleaners,’ claims workers union
Mumbai. 18-Mar-2015 (http://www.mid-day.com/articles/bmc-playing-with-lives-of-manhole-cleaners-claims-workers-union/16071196)
Members of the Municipal Workers Union allege that, despite several deaths taking place, the civic body has been flouting the 2006 HC directive asking it to provide staffers cleaning manholes with safety gear such as earplugs, safety goggles, oxygen masks, gloves and gumboots Citing the 2006 Bombay High Court directive to the BMC on providing safety gear to its conservancy staff, especially the ones cleaning manholes, members of the Municipal Workers Union have accused the civic administration of gross negligence and of playing with the safety of the workers. A union member claimed that the high court had asked the BMC to provide manhole cleaners with earplugs, safety goggles, oxygen masks, gloves and gumboots for their safety, but the civic body has been flouting the directive despite several deaths taking place. The Supreme Court had also issued a similar directive in 2011 and asked employers not to treat manhole workers as “mechanical robots” (see box). Mahabal Shetty, the working president of Municipal Workers Union, said, “As per the HC’s directive, the BMC is supposed to provide every worker who cleans manholes with the necessary safety gear. However, nothing has been done till date.”
When this mid-day correspondent passed a site in Lalbaug where the cleaning of a manhole was in progress last Wednesday, he observed that the worker had entered the manhole without any safety gear. He was wearing shorts and a t-shirt and had been lowered into the manhole with the help of a rope held by his colleagues. The cleaner passed out buckets filled with filth and muck to workers outside, who dumped it right next to the manhole. A conservancy staffer, who is also a member of the union, said cleaners have no choice but to risk their lives every time they enter a manhole as this job is their only source of income.
Supreme Court judgment
Upholding a Delhi High Court order on a PIL, the Supreme Court had said in 2011, “Given the option, no one would like to enter the manhole of a sewerage system for cleaning purposes, but there are people who are forced to undertake such hazardous jobs with the hope that at the end of the day they will be able to make some money and feed their family.” “The State and its agencies/instrumentalities cannot absolve themselves of the responsibility to put in place an effective mechanism for ensuring the safety of the workers employed for maintaining and cleaning the sewerage system. The human beings who are employed for doing the work in sewers cannot be treated as mechanical robots, who may not be affected by poisonous gases in manholes,” the court had said, highlighting the need for giving proper equipment to sewer workers.
Caught on camera
Court, a critically acclaimed film, which has won quite a few awards at international festivals and will be released this month, deals with the topic of a sewage worker who dies inside a manhole as he goes in without any protection. Chaitanya Tamhane, the director of the film, said, “While writing Court, I had figured out all the scenes outside of the courtroom, but I still hadn’t figured out the case that the film would revolve around. One day, while researching, I came across two of S Anand’s disturbing articles for Tehelka, titled, ‘Dying in a black hole’ and ‘Life inside a black hole’. The articles mentioned that over 22,000 dalit sewage workers die every year because of lack of proper safety equipment and a general negligence towards their working conditions.” “I was quite moved by what I read, and eventually I had a breakthrough; the story of a manhole worker’s suicide became the foundation of the court case in the film. Several details from the reports that I had read became important narrative elements in the script of Court,” he added.
Three cleaners working in a Mulund sewer died after inhaling poisonous gases in May 2014. The fire brigade managed to save the lives of four others who had entered the main sewer that runs along the Eastern Express Highway and ends at the Bhandup sewage pumping station. Cleaners Uma Krishnan (25) and Pandian (22) died after inhaling toxic fumes, and another cleaner had a narrow escape, while cleaning a sewer line at Kalachowkie in May 2010. Two railway employees died of asphyxiation in a sewer line near Matunga station in May 2010. The incident occurred days after the Kalachowkie deaths.
The other side
Vipinkumar Pandey, chief engineer, Sewerage Operations Department, said, “We are providing the workers with all the safety equipment”. When mid-day visited the G-South (Lower Parel) ward office, however, workers there said that no safety equipment is made available to them. This reporter, too, did not see any safety equipment in the cleaners’ room or the ward office. The union’s secretary, Ashok Jadhav, said, “The lack of safety equipment is not restricted to that one ward alone. Wards in the suburbs also don’t have safety equipment. Most of the manhole cleaners don’t even live up to the age of 60. Due to the lack of safety equipment, the workers die of skin problems and cancer. Most of them die of tuberculosis.” 1,200 Number of manhole cleaners employed by the BMC
Seven workers injured
TUTICORIN, March 18, 2015 (http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-tamilnadu/seven-workers-injured/article7005867.ece)
Seven construction workers suffered injuries while building a concrete structure in front of Ottapidaram panchayat union office on Tuesday. According to police, the workers fell off while being engaged in the construction work. They were admitted to Tuticorin Government Hospital. Based on a complaint lodged by P. Ramar 45, Annai Teresa Nagar, Kovilpatti, one of the injured, a case was filed by Ottapidaram police. The injured were Srinivasan (47), Chithiraikani (34), Sankar Ganesh (20), Sankara Subbu (35), Ramachandran (23) and Ganeshan (37)
Issues of International Solidarity
ITF urges solidarity with Indian dockers facing massive jobs threat
Five Indian union federations have come together in a historic joint campaign for dockers’ jobs in the face of port corporatisation and have announced an indefinite strike in 11 major ports beginning on 9 March. The federations and their affiliated unions simultaneously filed strike notices on 20 February. The federations taking the action are the All India Port & Dock Workers’ Federation; the Water Transport Workers’ Federation of India; the All India Port & Dock Workers’ Federation (workers); the Port, Dock & Waterfront Workers’ Federation; and the Indian National Port & Dock Workers’ Federation. The government is proposing to amend the Major Port Trust Act 1963, which has so far protected the status of the ports, to turn the major ports into autonomous, corporate bodies. Unions fear this would pave the way for future privatisation, which they believe would be detrimental to the future of the ports, the survival of dock workers’ jobs and workers’ pensions. ITF dockers’ secretary Sharon James and Asia Pacific assistant regional secretary Sangam Tripathy were in Chennai to meet with national dockers’ union leaders and activists, and to run a training workshop for the activists. James said: “The filing of the strike notice by the unions and federations was a statement of the seriousness of their intent to follow through on the decision made earlier this year. “These dockworkers have made an important contribution to the growth of the national economy but they now face an uncertain future if the government goes ahead with its plans. We are gearing up our affiliates to support the 40,000 members we have in these major ports so that they know they aren’t fighting this alone, especially if they are forced to go on strike indefinitely in just a few days’ time.” More than 30,000 dockers staged mass protests in India’s major ports as part of a national day of action on 8 January against the government’s privatisation plans.
Mozambique: Workers On Strike At Indian-Owned Coal Mine
16 JANUARY 2015 (HTTP://ALLAFRICA.COM/STORIES/201501161480.HTML)
Maputo — About 250 miners and other workers at the Chirodzi coal mine, in the western Mozambican province of Tete, run by the Indian company Jindal Mozambique Minerals, have been on strike since 9 January, reports the latest issue of the independent weekly “Savana”. This is the third strike at the Chirodzi mine since it was inaugurated by President Armando Guebuza in August 2013. The workers accuse the mine management of discriminating against Mozambican workers in favour of foreigners, particularly Indians. In a letter sent to the Tete Provincial Labour Directorate, the workers say that Jindal pays a Mozambican operator of a dumper truck a net monthly wage of 7,500 meticais (about 237 US dollars), but an Indian worker doing the same job receives more than 35,000 meticais a month. The strikers complain that when they attempt to negotiate wage grievances with the management, they are told that they should be thankful with what they are offered. “They say that if we are not satisfied with what we earn, we can leave, since there is no shortage of labour in Mozambique”, one of the strikers told “Savana”. Mozambican labour legislation states that foreigners should only be hired when there are not enough qualified Mozambicans to fill the posts. But the workers claim that Jindal is employing Zimbabweans, Malawians and Tanzanians who are in the country illegally. The strikers accuse Jindal of exploiting the foreign workers in exchange for protecting them against repatriation. The workers also say that Jindal does not provide them with face masks, and they are thus exposed to coal dust, with all the health risks this entails. They add that they are accommodated in camps without basic safety and hygiene conditions. Their living quarters have no drinking water, no electricity and no toilet facilities. They are this obliged to relieve themselves in the bush surrounding the mine. The strikers say they are given a poor diet and forced to drink untreated water. As a result, diarrhoeal diseases are rampant among the workforce. “Savana” attempted to contact the Jindal management at the company office in Maputo, and was referred to the Jindal delegation in Tete, where nobody was answering the phones. The Tete Provincial Labour Director, Olga Nassone, said her office has set up a team to investigate the workers’ complaints. The team has talked with both the workers and the employer, and is producing a report which will determine what measures should be taken if the workers’ complaints are found to be true.
Rolls-Royce accused of offshoring engineering jobs via the backdoor
20 March 2015 (http://www.unitetheunion.org/news/rolls-royce-accused-of-offshoring-engineering-jobs-via-the-backdoor/)
Britain’s largest union, Unite accused Rolls-Royce of offshoring high-tech engineering jobs via the backdoor today (Friday 20 March) as it emerged that the company plans to open a new design facility in India. The announcement of the new site in Bangalore with 500 new jobs comes amid a global restructuring exercise by Rolls-Royce with the loss of 2,600 posts. The exercise has already led to the proposed closure of Derby’s precision manufacturing facility and the turbine machining facility in Ansty, Warwickshire, leading to warnings from Unite that vital skills would be lost to the UK economy. Commenting, Unite regional officer Tony Tinley said: “We warned when Rolls-Royce announced plans to cut jobs last year that it could result in the offshoring of high-tech engineering jobs. “It now appears that this is the case and that the company’s global restructuring exercise is being used as cover to offshore jobs via the back door. “Today’s announcement will be good news for workers in India, but it will be viewed as a kick in the teeth by UK workers and apprentices who face an increasingly uncertain future. “The UK workforce is world class and has proved time again to be at the cutting edge of engineering. They have shown their loyalty in building up Rolls-Royce and it’s time the company repaid that loyalty with concrete assurances about long term engineering in the UK.” Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.
New Evidence of Allegations in DHL India
16 March 2015 (http://www.uniglobalunion.org/news/new-evidence-allegations-dhl-india)
An ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) official returns from India today after a fact-finding visit to investigate allegations made by Indian unions and workers – as well as in a report to be released today and a recent German TV programme – of serious injustices in the operations of logistics giant Deutsche Post DHL there. The ITF and UNI Global Union work together to ensure that DP-DHL treats its workers fairly and with respect – wherever they are in the world (see http://www.dhlblog.org). Ingo Marowsky, ITF global head – supply chain and logistics, leaves Delhi today following an urgent visit to meet with DHL India workers and politicians. His return will coincide with the release of a report by respected US academic John Logan of San Francisco State University and the University of California-Berkeley. Professor Logan was commissioned by the ITF to make an independent investigation into multiple allegations of widespread mistreatment of staff at in DHL India. These included serious victimisation; punitive transfers of staff, moving them hundreds of miles away from their families and homes at almost no notice; and forced re-grading of personnel to try and prevent them joining a trade union. The title of his report leaves little doubt of what he found: Intimidation, misclassification and obstruction: DHL’s strategy to undermine labour rights in India. It is attached below or can be read via ITF here. Similar concerns about Deutsche Post-DHL’s Indian operations were also aired in a recent report on German television. See here for that clip in German: http://www.zdf.de/zdfzoom/zdfzoom.zdf.de-36965554.html. Ingo Marowsky commented: “The widespread accusations of persistent victimisation are extremely serious and – in their effects on workers and their families – heartrending. They are so grave that we asked Professor Logan to investigate. Sadly, he has found them to be well founded. This substantiates the testimonies I have heard this week in India, including that the company has taken out over 20 injunctions in an attempt to muzzle workers and their union. I hope that his report and German television’s recent exposé will stir DP-DHL into action to address what is clearly going seriously – and publicly – wrong with its management in India.” He continued: “DP-DHL claimed to have conducted a full review of what was happening in India last year – but only conducted random and anonymous investigation and repeatedly refused to confirm they had actually interviewed any of the workers who’d been victimised, or union representatives. That startling omission underlined the need for an outside investigation.” Stephen DeMatteo, Head of Post & logistics at UNI Global Union, commented: “We are gravely concerned by the findings of Professor Logan’s report as well as those confirmed in the past week by our colleagues at the ITF. UNI is committed to work with ITF to resolve the issues in DHL’s Indian operations. UNI calls upon DHL to take action now to ensure workers’ rights are respected in India and everywhere DP-DHL does business.” John Logan is professor and director of labor and employment studies at San Francisco State University, and visiting research fellow, Institute for Research on Labour and Employment, University of California-Berkeley. This is the executive summary of his report:
Extensive interviews with workers from DHL sites in four major Indian cities, plus trade union officials, scholars and labor experts, and backed up by documentation, have revealed the following: • Local and national DHL India managers have threatened, intimidated and discriminated against pro-union workers. • Management have used long distance punitive staff transfers to target union activists and threaten their colleagues • DHL management has actively attempted to undermine existing unions. • Management eliminated a union in Kolkata in 2004. • It is now fighting efforts by couriers to join their union of choice. • Since 2005-2006 it has deliberately attempted to convert couriers into hoax “managerial” level employees to try and stop them joining a union • Management has pursued a legal strategy that is intended to tie this dispute up in the courts for years • The company’s behavior is contrary to its behavior in its home country, and violates international conventions and global labor standards.
Wärtsilä favours a mock trade union at its factory in India
Helsinki, 17.03.2015 (http://heikkijokinen.info/en/trade-union-news-from-finland/730-wartsila-favours-a-mock-trade-union-at-its-factory-in-india)
The Finnish engineering company Wärtsilä has set up an internal trade union at its factory in Khopol, India to keep the genuine trade unions out, according to a recent report by the Finnish industry watchdog Finnwatch. The mock trade union at the Wärtsilä factory (which is not officially registered as a trade union) in Khopol in the state of Maharastra is an internal union appointed by the factory. All regular workers are automatically members of it. It is, however, affiliated to the General Kamgar Union. The factory directors told Finnwatch that they themselves had approached this union and invited it to come to the factory to avoid collective bargaining, typically held every 3 – 4 years. All discussions on pay are conducted on an individual basis. A Kamgar Union representative visits the factory only once a year. The employees interviewed for the report said the internal union is undemocratic and does not deal with issues relevant to the workers. It has no right to participate in bargaining concerning pay and terms of employment. “The trade union does not represent temporary contract workers and has not actively pursued higher wages for workers. The use of this so-called yellow union is in clear contradiction to the spirit of Wärtsilä’s accountability policies,” says Finnwatch Executive Director Sonja Vartiala. The report concludes that the lowest incomes in the factory are not sufficient to cover living costs. The factory also prefers to employ temporary workers when it can, who have worse terms of employment than their regular employees, and whose income is especially low. Problems with subcontractor The conditions seem to be even worse at Wärtsilä’s subcontractor Echjay Forgings in Khopol. In 2010 some workers were dismissed after demanding a pay rise. “Some of the workers said that the incomes they earn are below the minimum wage and that they work without paid leave. Migrant workers work 12 hours a day, six days a week. Many of the workers live in filthy conditions, without adequate sanitation in factory-provided housing,” Vartiala states. Wärtsilä is a supplier of power solutions for the marine and energy markets. In 2014 its net sales were 4.7 billion euro and it had 17,700 employees. The company has operations at more than 200 locations in nearly 70 countries around the world. In India it has 1,241 employees. Wärtsilä’s head of sustainable development Marko Vainikka told the Finnish national broadcaster Yle that the company will look at the report and work to correct the problems identified in it. The report was commissioned by the Trade Union Solidarity Centre of Finland SASK, the Finnish Metalworkers’ Union, the Union of Professional Engineers in Finland and the Trade Union Pro.
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Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”
What does labor want? We want more schoolhouses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge; in fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures,”
Social progress depends not upon the ennoblement of the few but on the enrichment of democracy; universal brotherhood can be achieved only when there is an equality of opportunity - of opportunity in the social, political and individual life.
In the new global politico-economic regime with new international division of labour, informalization of labour, free mobility of capital, alarming expansion of reserve army of labour and creation of global reserve army of labour for capital, and a system of regulating at international level and deregulating at national level, the pre-globalization strategies of organizing and collective bargaining have largely become ineffective and irrelevant. Therefore the labour movements and the social, political movements in general need to develop and implement new strategies of organizing and collective bargaining effective in new global politico-economic regime.
Divide, isolate and rule is the most important aspect of the capitalism to control the labour by not letting the working class emerge as a unified force. Dividing the working class in different sectional interests, and intensifying social conflicts (caste, gender, religion, regionality and nationality conflicts etc) are important strategies of capitalism. On the other hand, by its various institutions and propaganda machinery, the capitalism blurs the link between various sectional problems and their linkage with the capitalist system and therefore the movements appear detached from each other and focused on their sectional issues rather than challenging the capitalist system that produces and reproduces these problems.
The fate of social, political movements in India depends on their attitude towards learning and building unity in diversity at various levels to defeat the capital’s attempts to divide, isolate and rule. The revival of the working class movement also depends on this factor.